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Just Desserts

chocolate Fountain The Knot

in partnership with The Knot
Remember that great summertime date when you savored Popsicles like a couple of kids? Why not commemorate such sweet moments of your courtship by serving a special treat at your wedding reception. As you're planning the menu, know that it's not just about wedding cake anymore. In fact, the latest trend is to cap off your nuptial meal with totally scrumptious confections that are all about who you are as a couple, while giving your guests a sweet reward.Creating a confection
Here's the fun part of adding a dessert to your menu: research is required! Seek out your favorite delectable delights and sample the goods (so many treats, so little time). To put you on the express path to indulgence, here are a few key questions:

Where do you go out to eat?
Maybe there's a special dessert on the menu at your local haunt that you always order-and always find yourselves fighting over that last bite. Is there a regional specialty that signifies where you live now or where you grew up? If you're from Ohio, you definitely know what buckeyes are: peanut butter balls rolled in chocolate designed to resemble the nuts that fall from the state tree. Paired with a special ice cream, these would be delectable.

What are your favorite candies or childhood indulgences?
If you grew up on the seashore you may have fond memories of saltwater taffy on the boardwalk. Don't rule it out. You can even base a dessert on a beloved candy bar like GooGoo Clusters (think chocolate, caramel, peanuts, marshmallows...mmm). What's your comfort food when you need something rich to soothe your soul (and belly) -- is it a hot fudge sundae? Milk and cookies? Any seemingly simple treat can be transformed into a witty (not to mention delicious) wedding dessert. We love San Francisco-based Fork and Spoon Production's idea of passing trays of mini milkshakes in tiny frosted tumblers with straws. Why not ask your caterer?

Did you travel somewhere special together and discover something wonderful?
A getaway to France may have inspired a perfect-for-an-October-wedding apple tarte tatin. A cross-country road trip spent noshing on Krispy Kremes could spark some dressed-up variations on the humble (yet legendary) doughnut. Is it important to incorporate something from your ethnic background? If you're Italian, you gotta have cannolis -- but why not do mini ones with a variety of creams from ricotta to French? Likewise, Latino couples might opt for a creative spin on the traditional flan.The wedding cake makeover
If you're not a wedding cake kind of couple, don't feel obligated to have a four-tier, fondant-covered masterpiece. Some brides and grooms are opting out of serving a traditional wedding cake. Cupcakes on stacked tiers with the top tier being a small cake is a stylish alternative. Down South, there's a trend to forgo the groom's cake and do mini pastries, logo cookies with the bride and groom's photo on them, or miniature wedding-cake cookies instead. Or you could serve individual cakes in the shape of, say, an open Tiffany-style box filled with cream and berries. Another fun option gaining in popularity is the dramatic chocolate fountain from Choco Fountain, Inc., actually shaped like a three-tier wedding cake (you can rent one from for about $480, with shipping). Willy Wonka himself couldn't have done it better: Melted chocolate fondue circulates continuously so that guests can dip skewered fruit or sponge cake into its flow. The word on the street, however, is that the chocolate fountains can get messy if not manned properly. But no one ever said indulgence was a tidy business. Can't live without a grand wedding cake? Wedding cakes are gorgeous, but who says you can't pair yours with treats? If you choose a cake with light and fruity fillings, try richer desserts (chocolate, anyone?). The perfect ending
Dessert is king, so why not serve it regally? Dessert stations-basically a buffet setup that guests visit-are where it's at right now. Even if you're doing a seated meal, a dessert station gives guests a chance to circulate a bit. We've seen stations that range from totally elaborate Viennese tables with every confection imaginable to simple themed offerings. Case in point: the candy bar. Many caterers include the sweets the couple loved from their childhood-like malted milk balls, jelly beans, and caramel popcorn. Empty bags are available for guests to take home their favorites. Another popular option: Truffle stations -- where an assortment of individual chocolates is offered-dazzle chocoholics. Along with truffles are chocolate cordial cups filled with a delicious liqueur. Even a table chock-full of a variety of beguiling plated desserts makes a stylish presentation (think of gazing into a pastry-shop window). Some couples take this one step further by offering homey butterscotch or rice puddings in petite demitasse cups. Be specific with your caterer or baker about what you want. Bring a picture from a food magazine or track down the recipe. And don't worry about pleasing every single guest -- no matter what you serve, you'll score points for originality. Another trend we're seeing is mini desserts passed on trays like hors d'oeuvres at the end of the meal. Or fancy flourishes added at the table: It's a nice finishing touch that can be as simple as pouring a special sauce or whipped cream on ice cream or as fancy as serving a flaming dessert. Now give this one an A+ for chutzpah: One bride we know loved ice-cream bars so much that she had a cart-like the ones sidewalk vendors use-positioned in a corner of the dining room so guests could dig right in. So you can have your cake, or ice cream, or pie...and eat it too. Photo: David Prince © 2005 The Knot Inc. All rights reserved.
-- Colleen Brewer