Dessert makes everyone happy. From a decadent, delicious wedding cake to tasty cake pops and cupcakes, the sweet stuff is the perfect ending to any wedding reception, as well as engagement party, bridal shower or even rehearsal dinner. According to The Wedding Report, brides and grooms are spending almost 10 percent more on their desserts, reflecting the greater importance put on closing any wedding season celebration with fabulous treats. That 10 percent is not spent solely on an ornately decorated wedding cake, nor is it spent on a chocolate fountain. (That trend has come and gone.) Now the new must-have for the dessert hour is a sweets buffet.
Much like the Viennese table at a reception, filled with various cakes, pies, petits fours and pastries, the new dessert buffet is more tightly themed. Now the trend is for a chocolate buffet or a candy buffet, where guests can choose their fill of all-chocolate or all-candy desserts.
The highlight of the chocolate buffet is the range of choices within it, as well as the eye-pleasing visual effect of light and dark chocolates, perhaps set on a Champagne-colored tablecloth for an elegant effect. This type of buffet is considered quite formal, perfect for a wedding, and the offerings may include chocolate truffles in an array of flavors from key lime to berry to cheesecake. Anthony Cirone, owner of Li-Lac Chocolates, says, "To ensure your chocolate buffet is a crowd-pleasing success, always include a broad range of items from classic old-school favorites to unique and exotic temptations."
The key to a great chocolate buffet is mixing in those tastes of childhood, like a coconut flavor reminiscent of a Mounds bar with the exotic flavors Cirone mentions. These may include chocolate-dipped pineapple or mango, chocolate-covered orange peel, and even chocolates with a bit of cayenne kick. Anwar Khoder, Li-Lac's master chocolatier, says, "Some of our best-sellers for buffets and parties include almond bark, butter crunch, pecan chews and truffles."
Khoder's report shows the importance of choosing a mix of crunchy and creamy chocolate desserts on your buffet menu so that guests can choose the style of bite that's perfect for them. And be sure to print out attractive labels; ideally, use dark brown ink to suit the table's decor effect and to also identify what each chocolate treat is.
On the more playful side of the dessert buffet is the vibrantly colored candy store effect of bright pink jellybeans and apple green hard candies, mixed in with swirled lollipops, nonpareils and other candy treats. Candy buffets now include guest-pleasing retro candies such as Mal-o-Milks and candy buttons, which guests are thrilled to have access to once again, after perhaps not seeing these brands since childhood. A retro candy brings back wonderful memories for guests and closes the party with a hit.
Another trend in candy buffets is color coordinating the candies. For example, offering candies all in shades of pink to suit a pink-themed bridal shower or candies all in white to end a black-and-white-themed wedding. Visit your local candy store to scout out the possibilities, and look online for reputable retro candy sellers. One top source is Dylan's Candy Bar, where you can browse and buy colorful candies in modern and retro blends.
--Create your delicious chocolate or candy buffet by setting up a large, sturdy table in a spot where guests will be able to walk completely around the table, choosing or scooping up their picks. You don't want a traffic jam at the buffet.
--Set the buffet out of the sun. Both chocolates and candies will melt in even mildly warm sunlight, leaving you with a sticky mess that could destroy your buffet. Never set a sweets bar in the outdoors. The bright colors and scents might attract bees and other insects.
--Display your chocolates or candies in an array of containers. For example, you could use elevated pedestal platters, three-tier dessert plates, silver platters, or clear bowls that let the candies' and chocolates' colors show.
--Avoid setting lit candles on the buffet table. A guest reaching to get a chocolate truffle could light a sleeve on fire. If you wish for a lighting effect, arrange your buffet table under the reception hall's pin lights or add some cube LEDs to vases and votive holders for just a bit of glow.
--Test your scoops and tongs to be sure they work effectively on the candies and chocolates you provide, and set dessert bowls on the table so that guests' choices don't roll off the plate.
Your dessert buffet could double as a dessert hour offering and your party favor table. If you wish for this budget-saving crowd-delight, display a sign next to vellum bags or favor boxes inviting guests to scoop and choose all of the sweets they'd like to take home. Your party will be a sweet success.