PASS IT ON!
PAULINE PARRY, GOOD GRACIOUS! EVENTS, LOS ANGELES
“We are doing more and more tray-passed desserts,” Parry says, which she says allows for greater control over quantities and enables her to use her staff at a time when their workload would typically be slowing down. The popularity of portable desserts has inspired some creative confections, including putting everything from cheesecakes to s'mores into mini cones, and pairing shot glasses of chocolate dulce de leche soup with toffee brittle.
GOOD & FRUITY
Summertime brings a bounty of fresh fruits into the Good Gracious kitchen, where they are incorporated into a variety of unique desserts including fresh fruit liquid candy, sweet panna cottas and variations on Jell-O in amped-up flavors such as blueberry-rosemary, pineapple-jalapeno and, for the more traditional palate, peaches and cream. Additionally, Parry fills strawberries with brown sugar cheesecake and a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs as a tray-passed dessert option.
LEAVING ON A SWEET NOTE
Combining dessert with the party favor is a growing trend that gives the caterer a piece of the party-favor pie. Good Gracious will often customize the bag or box, which can contain anything from nut brittles accented with cocoa nibs to a mix of sweet toffee peanuts and popcorn flavored with Chinese five-spice powder. “Flavored popcorn is also a very budget-friendly dessert option,” Parry notes.
I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM …
JERRY EDWARDS, CHEF'S EXPRESSIONS FASHIONABLE CATERED EVENTS, TIMONIUM, MD.
We all scream for ice cream, especially when it's got bacon in it! Edwards serves smoky-sweet homemade bacon ice cream over caramelized bananas drizzled with a warm rum reduction, taking sweet-savory to a whole new level. For more conventional palates, Edwards offers a more familiar icy option: tableside soft-serve, made by mixing powdered food-grade dry ice into an ice cream base. “It instantly freezes while we whip it tableside and becomes soft-serve ice cream,” he says. Add-ins include mini caramel truffles, crunchy cinnamon nougat, frozen grapes and brandied fruit.
THE POWER OF THREE
For seated desserts, Edwards believes if one is good, three is excellent. His dessert trios feature bite-size samples of cakes, meringues, pies, candies, cookies and dessert soup sips.
LET THEM EAT CAKE!
Cake remains a mainstay, especially at weddings, Edwards says. To add a little pop to the plate, he adds a sparkling shooter. “We'll pair coconut cream cake with pineapple-mango infused sparkling wine with Thai basil,” he explains. “Chocolate cake is paired with a passion fruit-infused rosa regale” — a red sparkling wine.
SUGAR AND SPICE
NANCY GOODMAN, MAIN EVENT CATERERS, ARLINGTON, VA.
“Chiles, fresh herbs, sea salts and items such as wasabi are making a strong push into the world of sweets,” reports Goodman, who adds chiles and sea salts to chocolate to enhance its flavor profile. Herbs flavor ice creams, crème brulee, sauces and fruits, as evidenced in such Main Event dessert mainstays as basil ice cream, tarragon-infused chocolate crème brulee, wasabi crème anglaise and thyme-marinated strawberries. “Adding unusual ingredients in an interesting manner can bring attention to lower budget desserts, Goodman adds.
The cupcake craze is going strong, Goodman maintains. “Cupcakes done well can be both pocket-friendly and attention-getting,” she notes. “Add a cute name and a clever combination of flavors, and you've got a winner for sure.”
TRICIA QUINTO, STEPHEN STARR EVENTS, PHILADELPHIA
“When it comes to indulging in decadence, people want to taste everything without having a whole dessert,” says Stephen Starr pastry chef Tricia Quinto. To that end, she has created a menu of “dessert tapas,” which includes everything from tiny cheesecakes, bite-size ice cream cones and mini ice cream sandwiches to dim sum donuts. “Serving dessert tapas-style is an inexpensive option that offers lots of variety for about $10 a person.”
It seems we never outgrow our love of lollipops. “Dessert lollipops in any and every flavor are very popular,” Quinto says, adding that cheesecake and truffle remain the top picks. Not only are they a delicious bit of nostalgia, lollipops are a versatile treat that can easily be customized by dipping, dotting or striping them to match the theme of the event, Quinto adds.
A TRAY-PASSED DESSERT MENU FROM GOOD GRACIOUS!
Pastel Towers of French-style Macarons in Mint, Yellow and Lavender
Homemade Multicolor Marshmallow Sticks
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Soup
A pearl shot glass of dark chocolate soup, caramel Chantilly cream and crunchy toffee brittle
Lemon Sacristans Swizzle Sticks
Puff pastry twists scented with lemon zest and sugar-baked
CHEF'S EXPRESSIONS' DESSERT TRIO MENU
TRIO OF CHOCOLATE LOVE
Hazelnut Chocolate Soup served in a Vodka Shot Glass, Cinnamon Milk
Chocolate Mousse Cake, Chocolate-dipped Tuile dusted in Hawaiian Red Sea Salt
Raspberry Gelee, Chocolate Raspberry Bavarois, Raspberry Cheesecake Lollipop
TRIO OF FRUITS AND HERBS
Strawberry Basil Salad, Melon Carpaccio with Minted Lemon Zest, Cherry Tarragon Tart
MAIN EVENT'S CUPCAKE AND ICE CREAM MENU
Madagascar Vanilla, Rich Chocolate, Luscious Lemon, Brilliant Lime, Floridian Orange, Hawaiian Coconut, Fresh Carrot, Tingly Spice, Ripe Banana
White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Deep Dark Chocolate, Aromatic Coffee, Hawaiian Coconut, Whipped Cream Cheese, Mocha Java, Peppy Peppermint, Ripe Raspberry, Juicy Strawberry, Caramel Butterscotch, Creamy Peanut Butter, Italian Hazelnut, Madagascar Vanilla
ICE CREAM HOUSE-MADE FROM SCRATCH
Tarragon, Goat Cheese, Black Pepper Cherry, Basil, Dulce de Leche, PB&J, Lemon Thyme
A DESSERT TAPAS MENU BY STEPHEN STARR EVENTS
Raspberry Brownies with Ganache
Tapioca with Passion Fruit Gelee
Pear Frangipane Tarts
Panna Cotta with Balsamic Macerated Strawberries
Peanut Butter Caramel Tarts
Miniature Chocolate Pagodas
Dim Sum Donuts with Ginger Cream Cheese
Key Lime Cheesecake Lollipops
Miniature Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
Hot Chocolate Truffles with Raspberry Sauce