Sweets & Treats
Happy Halloween! Cheers to the day that ushers in festive parties and, of course, candy! Everyone loves something sweet, from deep rich chocolates to tangy fruit tarts, there is something on the dessert spectrum for everyone. For some time now, dessert has been more than just big cakes and pies, although those are good too! When you’re planning your event, corporate or private, you can use this tasty course as a means to provide your guests with a little something extra. With the holidays just around the corner, we sat down to brainstorm (and Pinterest) some of our most successful and non-traditional sweet set ups.
The Classic Candy Bar … with a Twist
The Candy Bar is a great classic alternative or addition to your sweet offerings. If you’re having a Bar Mitzvah, wedding, or baby shower, it can be a unique way to incorporate the guests of honor. For one baby shower, we picked very simple glass bowls you’d find in an old variety store, covered the table with a light beige linen cloth and pale blue table runner. Each jar contained various goodies that the MothertoBe was craving. In the end, guests could nibble on their candy out of simple white paper bags, or we prepackaged some candy in little plastic baby shoes, tied with a simple yellow or blue ribbon. They made for a fun activity and party favor.
For weddings, you can get candy that matches your color palette and then use your bowl selection to enhance your theme. For example, if you were going for an 'Arabian Nights' look, with metallic lanterns and jewel tone colors, we’d fill jars that have an arabesque shape to them of varying heights. Also, you can monogram M&Ms these days!
If you’re looking for something with a bit more pizazz, we suggest adding nitrogen dessert station. This trend of flash freezing food has been quite popular during the 2015 wedding season. The billowing smoke is completely harmless; nitrogen as a gas is in the air we breathe, when brought down to 321 degrees, it becomes a liquid. By adding a nitrogen station to any candy table, you’re allowing for the same elegant simplicity in look and flavor options but with a dramatic finish. The flash freezing does not add an flavor component, it just adds a different texture to the food, and one that feels extraordinary to the mouth.
Desserts, possibly more than any other food item, lends itself really well to a theme. The way a monochromatic candy bar can echo your event color palette, holiday themed desserts can really enhance your party. It’s not just about cupcakes with holiday appropriate icing anymore!
Since it was Halloween that put us in the mood to talk sweets & treats, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of our favorites.
Take one chocolate brownie, a stick of white chocolate pretzels, and a marshmallow and you have a skeleton in a bag. These individually wrapped treats are great as a conversation pieces or a party favor. If you want a bit more DIY you can buy all these ingredients and pick up the clear plastic bags and ribbon at the Container Store.
My personal favorite Halloween treat has been the Vampire Cupcake. They are an unexpected addition, but surprisingly time consuming. You bake a simple white cake. You can make it from scratch or use a mix depending on how much time you want to use. Bake them in a regular cupcake tin for usual amount of time, let them cool. While they are cooling empty a can of cherry pie filling into a bowl. With a handmixer beat the filling until you’ve separated all the chunks. Leave it in the bowl. Once the cupcakes are cooled, take a small knife to the top of the cupcakes. Insert the blade at an angle and cut around in the circle. Your goals is to remove a chunk of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Then chop off the cone part, leaving a cakelid top. You’ll take a teaspoon and fill the hole you just created with the cherry pie filling. Once you’re done, take your new cakelid and place it back on top. If you need to remove some filling so it won’t overflow, go ahead. Once the tops are all on, take out your marshmallow fluff. If you made it yourself, you’ll want to make sure it’s thick and spreadable. If you’re not sure, beat it in your standing mixer a bit more. If you’re using a jar, you might need to grease the utensil you’re using to spread it with so it will only stick to the cake. The final step is the best part. Take a toothpick, dip it in the remaining cherry pie filling. Make two dots on the fluff, resembling bite marks. Then drag a bit of the filling down towards the edge of the cake to make it look like little blood trials. You’ve just created a delicious and creepy addition to your party!
We’re big fans of traditions, so with that, we don’t like to mess with Thanksgiving. It’s a pie holiday. How you want to vary those pies is up to you, but pie is the name of the game. Our suggestions this year is minipies. If you’re having a large group, this gives everyone a chance to taste some variety. We suggest doing bite size mini pies for your fruit pies like apple and blackberry. These little bites make a fun addition to a large meal. For other things like pumpkin and spice custard, chocolate mousse, pull out those muffin tins again. Line each muffin tin with parchment, a pastry square, enough so they edges flop over and pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges are golden brown and then remove the weights and parchment and bake until the bottom is golden brown. About 20 minutes each browning, but adjust per your oven. Once your shells are ready to go, make your filling and bake away!
While we maintain that Thanksgiving should have pie, we never shy away from something extra. We found these adorable use for those left over ice cream cones. Dip two ends in chocolate, cover the bottom with sprinkles, or dyed green coconut for grass, add some pretzel sticks and you’ve got one sweet table setting!
We could write a book on what to serve at your Christmas party, private or corporate we have plenty of ideas that will get your guests talking and possibly give them a snack to take to the dance floor. This is where cake pops really do their best work. They can be fun, cute and most important in a large event, portable. We adore those Rudolph ones. We’d serve them at any holiday party. We’d pair the chocolate reindeer with a winter inspired white cake pop with white snowflakes, adding just a touch of that sophisticated color palette to your party.
In keeping with festive, we also recommend a fruit and chocolate pairing, we love these chocolate brownie christmas trees. The fact that the height comes from the strawberry makes for a wonderful surprise and your guests don’t get overwhelmed by all that icing.
For something totally different, it was our friends at Bon Appétit that really won us over last year. My friend Jessi turned me on to their lavender shortbread cookie with flowers and herbs as an edible ornament. They couldn’t be more stunning. And you can really take the decorating in many directions, dried fruit, pomegranate seeds. You’ll be able to set a very different tone than your typical holiday parties while at the same time, giving your guests something unique to take home. You can also hang this from your tree! As the holiday season draws closer, we’ll be talking about your perfect party in more detail!
Sweets as Treats
What to do when it’s not the holidays and you want to incorporate something sweet to your party. Don’t worry, you still have plenty of options. Especially if you like cake. While we want to provide you with as many alternatives as you can so you can throw the party you want to throw, but of course, we always have room for cake.
We know that cakes at weddings are big deals. The couples goes through a lot of tasting to have what will be the most photographed piece of food look and taste just the way the dreamed on their big day. And what if they want to keep the focus on that?
Well there is a lovely custom that goes back to when my parents were married that I am incorporating in my own wedding. My fiancé and I are lucky enough to have a dear friend who is a pastry chef. He’s making our cake. Since its such a special gesture we wanted our dessert options to really focus on what he made for us. So we’re getting cake slice window boxes for each guest to get a slice when they go home.
So let’s say you’re not ready for nitrogen, want something more than a shiny candy bar, it’s not a holiday, and your guests are not into window boxes? I’d wager that you’re throwing a Bar Mitzvah. Candidly, those are tough, I remember not being very kind to my parents when my Bat Mitzvah was upon us, I chalk it up to age and just wanting to watch the Knicks. I was a 13 year old tomboy, these things happen. We would recommend the Cotton Candy Artist. It’s a preteen crowd pleaser! It’s all sugar and it looks like it belong in a Katy Perry Video!
We hope our ideas have given you some tasty inspiration, please feel free to give us a call or leave us a comment if you’d like to talk further. This has been another edition of The Dish.