Sweetness

By Sharon Naylor

April 16, 2010 5 min read

Every wedding guest waits for the cake -- and the additional desserts you offer. In years past, when budgets were not constricted by the economy, many brides and grooms offered a wedding cake and an extensive buffet of pies, cakes, tarts, mousses, pastries and other sweets that wowed their guests and tempted many off their diets. Now the trend is for a limited dessert collection that -- in its uniqueness and presentation -- still wows the guests and allows the wedding's theme and season to come into play.

For instance, at a spring wedding, the dessert bar might have six or seven brightly colored fruit tarts, a Key lime pie and pastel-colored cupcakes with icing daisies piped onto the tops. A winter wedding might feature all winter-white desserts, such as white chocolate mousse and petits fours iced with festive red stripes, or silver drag?es and blue frosting.

The colors of the wedding now come into play as bakers and pastry chefs design sweet bites that incorporate the tones of the couple's d?cor -- and using color now extends into the design of the wedding cake. Pastel-colored cakes now grab the spotlight at springtime wedding receptions, with sugar paste flowers and butterflies dotting the iced masterpiece, and coordinating-colored truffles are placed on the dessert bar for guests to choose for themselves.

The concept of "personal choice" dessert bars is a big trend for the dessert hour, with the sweets buffet arranged as bowls or platters of small desserts -- such as truffles, petits fours, mini cupcakes and even jelly beans -- presented with silver scoops or tongs that guests use to choose their own collections of luscious bites.

Here are the top trends in themed dessert bars:

*The Brownie Bar: The selection is composed of a half-dozen to a dozen different types of brownies, such as dark chocolate fudge, peanut butter and macadamia nut, coconut-topped sugar-free and gluten-free chocolate brownies iced with lemon frosting, and more.

*The Cookie Bar: Anne Chertoff, editor-in-chief of AisleDash, says the cookie bar is a big hit among guests of all ages. "Set out a variety of cookies in different shapes and flavors," Chertoff says. She also suggests theme-matched shapes, such as stars or hearts, and calling into the mix your favorite childhood cookies. Frosted sugar cookies are in top demand right now. Many companies, including Cheryl and Co., offer pretty pastel-iced round cookies in such wedding-popular colors as light green, bright yellow, pink and orange. For weddings with the trendy black-and-white color scheme, choose the iconic black-and-white cookies, which feature half-black (chocolate) and half-white (vanilla) frosting on top.

*The Sundae Bar: Guests get to build their own sundaes, choosing from six or so different flavors of ice cream (vanilla and chocolate, as well as a selection of unusual flavors, such as black cherry, maple walnut and pistachio) and then topping their bowls with sprinkles, fresh whipped cream, chocolate sauce, warm caramel, walnuts, cherries, crushed cookies and other tasty toppers. A twist on this is the gelato bar, which features gourmet flavors of gelato served in cones or small dessert bowls.

*The Pie Buffet: Chertoff suggests the new trend of the pie bar, at which guests help themselves to their favorite "tastes of home," bringing them back to family celebrations. When you offer a treat that guests aren't served at every wedding, the excitement factor registers with guests. Add in a server with scoops of homemade ice cream for an a la mode option and you have a winning dessert bar.

*The Fudge Bar: Upon this specialty dessert bar are silver or glass platters displaying different kinds of fudge squares, in every flavor from dark chocolate to peanut butter to white chocolate. Brides and grooms who hold beach weddings say the fudge bar reminds them and their guests of visiting fudge shops during their beach vacations.

*The Fruit Bar: Provide a fresh and healthy desserts bar with creatively cut slices of cantaloupe and honeydew, gleaming strawberries, mandarin oranges, star fruit, pineapple squares and mango slices, perhaps even coordinating the colors of your fruits with your wedding colors.

You don't need a been-there-done-that chocolate fountain to impress your guests when you offer uncommon desserts that they get to select for themselves -- and even package to take home as their favors! Setting out a packaging station with pretty labeled boxes and baggies allows your dessert bar to serve a budget-saving double duty.

Presentation is always a key factor, so talk with your reception site manager and dessert chefs about how your chosen desserts can be artfully displayed, iced or garnished to add even more of a wow factor to the delectable dessert bar you've arranged.

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