Cutting (out) the cake

Not so long ago, a cake was the traditional—and only—dessert option at a wedding reception. Now, brides and grooms are embracing dessert tables featuring pretty much anything their sweet teeth desire.

Not so long ago, a cake was the traditional—and only—dessert option at a wedding reception. Now, brides and grooms are embracing dessert tables featuring pretty much anything their sweet teeth desire.

“Just like how the rest of their menu is a reflection of the couple and their experiences, they are using their wedding desserts to brand their wedding as ‘so them,’ too,” said Brittany Ferrin, executive chef and owner of Truffleberry Market, Westmont, Illinois. “Cake is a lovely tradition and can be delicious, but just like anything, more can also be more. Why not have your cake and other desserts and eat them, too?”

Chicago-based wedding and event planner Lauren Housley of Ryan Alexander Events, who often works with Ferrin, said, “It is completely OK to forgo a traditional cake. Many of my clients who want to experience the ‘cake cutting’ are opting for smaller cakes or even pies. By creating a table of smaller and different-flavored cakes and pies, it allows the clients to interject their favorite flavors.“

Set to your tastes

This add-on dessert trend is becoming “incredibly popular,” Ferrin said.

“I think in the last six years, we have yet to execute a wedding where cake was the only dessert offered. That said, I don’t think we have ever not had at least a cake appearance. Whether brides and grooms opt for something traditional or original, the cake is still a fun tradition for brides and grooms,” Ferrin said.

With a customized sweets table, the bridal couple can offer a variety of desserts that are designed to be unique to them, such as something they had on a special date, a childhood memory, a favorite trip or a college tradition.

One bride who “seriously” loves Dr. Pepper asked Ferrin to incorporate it into her desserts. The team created dark chocolate and cherry mini cupcakes, then added Dr. Pepper-infused buttercream and topped it with a maraschino cherry.

“Some Dr. Peppery-ness was missing, though, so we made a Dr. Pepper reduction and injected it into a pipette. So fun to watch guests squeeze (it) inside the cupcake or their mouths and say ‘Oh my god, this is so Brittney,’ ” the bride.

Non-cake ideas

Some other ideas from Ferrin and Housley:
A doughnut and coffee bar can be a parting gift on a cold night or late-night snack for night owls. Guests take a paper bag printed with the name of the bride and groom and wedding date and fill it with a warm doughnut, then visit a toppings bar stocked with cinnamon and sugar, vanilla bean powdered sugar, chocolate toasted coconut or sea salted caramel to personalize the dessert. Coffee accompanies the treat with optional Bailey’s.

The cupcake movement is in full swing. Chefs can create custom cupcakes for guests with choices of base flavors (German chocolate, snickerdoodle, vanilla bean) and icing combinations (chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, cream cheese, coconut, pecan). Guests can mix and match based on the interaction with the chef.

Cheese courses are a perfect opportunity to mix sweet and salty, such as a strong cheddar paired with sliced apple and candied walnuts. It is an unexpected way to end the meal and clear the palette.

A hot chocolate station is a perfect fit for fall or winter brides, with different mix-ins such as red velvet hot chocolate with white chocolate stir sticks. If it’s an adults-only reception, add mix-ins such as brandy or Kahlua. Make it interactive with a gourmet flavored marshmallow bar.

There’s no sweeter way to send your guests home than with a bag of candy from a candy bar stocked with childhood favorites.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass