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Holiday menu items, from sweet to savory

Chain restaurants across the nation are taking different approaches to developing seasonal menu items this year, making use of cinnamon, peppermint, caramel and other flavors associated with this time of year.

At the same time, they are getting creative with colors, shapes and names as they move to appeal to consumers’ holiday spirit.

“Part of the wonder of the holidays comes with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the season,” Yogurt Mountain president and chief executive David Kahn said. “Our customers can relive the magical experiences of their favorite holiday memories with every delicious spoonful.”

In the dessert category, Krispy Kreme has introduced three holiday doughnuts:

• A snowman-shaped doughnut frosted with white icing and decorated with a red-icing scarf

• A red velvet cake doughnut topped with cream cheese icing and red velvet cake crumbles

• A chocolate iced doughnut with red and green sprinkles

The doughnuts are available at participating North American locations through Dec. 31.

Watch a commercial for Krispy Kreme’s holiday doughnuts; story continues below

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Abuelo’s, a 40-unit Mexican restaurant based in Lubbock, Texas, is offering a traditional bread pudding called capirotada through Dec. 31. The dessert is prepared with pecans, cinnamon, golden raisins, evaporated and condensed milk, and cajeta, a caramel made from goat milk. It sells for $1.99.

“It’s a once-a-year special treat available only during the holiday season, and we are excited to offer it for our guests at such a great value,” said Robert Lin, president of Abuelo’s parent company, Food Concepts International.

 Yogurt Mountain, a 39-unit frozen yogurt chain based in Birmingham, Ala., is adding four holiday flavors: eggnog, candy cane, chocolate mint and gingerbread cookie.

The gingerbread cookie flavor doesn’t contain cookies, but is made with brown sugar, molasses, ginger and other spices, and raisin flavor to simulate the taste of a gingerbread cookie.

Yogurt Mountain also is offering 10 seasonal toppings for the holidays: crushed peppermint, gummy snowmen and trees, snowman-shaped marshmallows, stars and trees, jelly wreaths, a cream holiday mix, mini candy chocolate balls, red and green sprinkles, sour jelly stars and yogurt-covered pretzels.

On the savory side, Twisted Root Burger Co., a seven-unit Dallas-based chain that Nation’s Restaurant News named a Hot Concept this year, is offering a Merry Swissmas Burger. The sandwich consists of a beef patty topped with Swiss cheese, housemade honey mustard and two slices of bacon, served on a sesame seed bun. It sells for $7.57 with tax.

Maggiano’s Little Italy has added range of sweet and savory holiday specials for December, available at its 44 restaurants.

• Crab and shrimp fondue with Alfredo sauce, chives, roasted red and yellow peppers, and focaccia crisps

• Mushroom ravioli with braised veal served with marsala cream sauce, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and toasted herb bread crumbs

• Grilled chicken cacciatore with pappardelle pasta, roasted red and yellow peppers, mushrooms and pesto

• Crab and shrimp imperial with lobster cream sauce, herb breadcrumbs and orzo pasta

• Profiteroles filled with peppermint ice cream and dressed with hot fudge, peppermints and whipped cream

• White chocolate and maple bread pudding with maple icing and candied cranberries

And Miami-based Benihana’s 63 restaurants are offering a December Chef’s Special of filet mignon and chicken for two, a six-course meal for $50.

The Chef’s Special features filet mignon and chicken grilled with mushrooms and sesame seeds, and includes onion soup, salad, a hibachi shrimp appetizer, mushrooms, hibachi vegetables, steamed rice, green tea and a cinnamon gelato dessert.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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