The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Mini dessert display with mason jar blueberry cobbler by The White Apron Catering. Blissful Beginnings photo.

Say goodbye to your parents’ wedding cake
Wow your guests with unique desserts

By Allie Ginwala

Gone are the days when a couple was driven by expectation and tradition to serve a tiered white cake covered in cascading sugar flowers. Today, it’s all about mixing up the sweet side of the wedding reception with alternative and easy-to-eat goodies that have a story behind them.
“You don't have to have the pressure of [having] a three-tiered white cake,” said Lara Vanasco, owner of My Friend’s Bakery in Rochester. “If you don’t like cake, don't have cake. If you’d rather have pie or a tart or cupcakes, make it your own.”
When it comes to wedding desserts for 2016, it’s all about customization.
“The trend is there is no trend,” said wedding planner Melanie Voros of Blissful Beginnings. “Customization is the trend and really reflecting on who the couple is.”
Although many couples opt to have some form of cake at the wedding (mainly so they can have the traditional cutting of the cake and photo op), lately the cake itself has been simpler or done on a much smaller scale while offering something different for guests to enjoy.
Choices, choices, choices
Going hand-in-hand with the turn toward customization is options. Why pick just one item when you can have a dessert bar with six sweets to choose from? And for many couples that serve up a selection, the “mini” reigns supreme.
“One wedding I did, they had a full dessert table so cream puffs, mini cheesecake bites, little whoopie pies, mini cupcakes … little mini tarts, little lemon meringue tarts,” Vanasco said. 
Voros has also worked with couples who wanted mini or handheld desserts, like a gingerbread cookie and hot cocoa station for a winter wedding and mini blueberry pies or mini mason jars of blueberry cobbler in the summer. 
“Whatever their favorite dessert is [just] in a mini or fun fashion,” she said.
“Mini” doesn’t have to mean one- or two-bite treats. Vanasco once made individual apple and pumpkin pies, about four or five inches each, and one of her all-time favorite wedding dessert orders was a cake bar with several small cakes in non-traditional flavors like “nuts for nutella” and “lime in the coconut.”
Danielle Thibodeau, owner of The Wicked Sweet Sugar Boutique in Hampton, likes to surprise people during cake tastings by giving them her Guinness stout cake, a decadent chocolatey flavor.
“You have sweet people and chocolate people and people who prefer savory and fruity desserts,” Voros said. “One of the big crowd-pleasers is just having options.”
Another benefit of doing a selection of smaller desserts instead of a grandiose cake is the control in terms of logistics — a family member can pick up boxes of pastries more easily than a multi-tiered cake, Thibodeau said. Plus, if the reception is at a banquet hall or large facility, you can avoid the additional fee some charge for cutting and serving the cake.
“It makes an interesting table spread,” she said.
When you have a six-foot table covered in cake pops, French macaroons, tartlets, mini whoopie pies and cookies, you can bet that presentation is going to be more memorable than a solitary cake.
Alternative flavors
Another trend Voros has seen lately among couples is a throwback to favorite flavors from childhood. 
“We have a lot of people doing like little shooters with milk and mini cookies on them, mini milkshakes and cookie bars,” Voros said. “I’ve also seen a throwback to flavors of things that remind us of our childhood so Funfetti wedding cakes or Funny Bones or Devil Dogs.”
If cake really isn’t your thing, go for a dessert tower that gives the illusion of a cake. This summer, Voros has a couple who will have a tower of Oreos shaped like a cake. The piles of Oreos will be set in place with frosting.
“I did a Greek wedding where they did a Greek cookie station,” she said. “It’s nice to have delicacies like that that relate to the [couple’s] heritage.”
She’s also had a couple choose a cannoli “cake” that had an actual cake on the top tier, but tiers stacked full of mini cannolis below. 
One of the most unusual wedding desserts Vanasco has ever done is croquembouche — a French dessert tower of pastry balls set with caramel — for a New Orleans, French-themed wedding.
“I thought it was a good idea because everyone has a three-tiered cake … but you sure bet if you ask the people who went to that wedding, they remember it was the croquembouche,” she said. 

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