just desserts

I knew from the very start that I didn’t want a big fancy wedding cake.

I had ideas, kids. Lord, did I have them. What if I baked my famous chocolate chip cookies for dessert? We would only need, oh, say, 300 of them. Guests could take the extras home! I even put together a spreadsheet that detailed the cost of each cookie ingredient.* Yes, I priced it out with the Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips. I’m a baking snob like that.

I was so excited about my cookie idea that I mentioned it to my coworker. She was aghast. “You can’t have cookies at your wedding!” she nearly howled with indignation. And why is this? “Because you can have cookies any day. A cake is special. If you don’t get a cake, you’re totally going to regret it.”

Right, then.

My cookies bring, um, all the guests to the, uh… reception?

You know, I’ve seen those reality shows about professional bakers—they make the actual edible part, the cake, days in advance of the event, then drape it in fondant. Which reminds me of nothing so much as the rind on brie cheese, only sweeter. Who wants to gnaw on senescent cake ensconced in sugar wax? I know they can conjure some kick-ass designs on those things, but damn son. I don’t care about what the thing looks like. I care about what it tastes like.

So. I am blithely ignoring the advice of Mrs. FancyPants McCakeFan. Of course, I am well aware that this decision will most surely spark the ire of our guests and hasten the ultimate failure of our marriage. I can see it all now. The dessert table overturned, chairs smashed against the Very Important Historical Fountains That No One Should Look At Lest We Lose Our $89,347** Deposit. Babies crying. Friends and family in a sweaty panic, searching for The Cake. “Where is the fondant?!?” they will shriek. “WE WANT THE FONDANT!!” Our photographers will glower. “You were supposed to cut a big ass cake, and then smear it on each other’s faces,” they’ll hiss. Tables will go up in flames. “You could have DIY’ed cute bride and groom birds as cake toppers,” my inconsolable mother will sob into a napkin. A mere three months later, the beau and I will quietly, humiliatingly, file for divorce. Everyone will roll their eyes. “We knew that was coming,” they will collectively mutter. “You can’t expect it to last long when those cheap, miserable bastards didn’t even bother to serve us a freakin’ wedding cake.”

Well! Anyway! That was fun.

After the incident with McCakeFan — but not because of it — I kind of dropped the cookie idea. My burning desire for cookies still throbs deep in my loins, of course. It’s just that I sort of fell out of love with the idea of baking six or seven batches of them on the day before the wedding. I mean, we already have flowers to arrange. And a rehearsal picnic to set up. And several panic attacks to have. Really, I consulted the planner. They are scheduled for 9:14 am, 2:37 pm, and 4:54 pm, respectively. I also penciled in a 10:08 for good measure.

This leaves us with a multitude of wedding dessert goodies to buy instead of bake. Mmm. Goodies. Now, to pick which ones.

We’ve considered serving a variety of pies. In fact, we know somebody who could make them from scratch, and how cool is that? Also, an awesome person volunteered to make homemade ice cream for our reception. Um, yes please? The only problem I foresee is keeping it cold. So that may not pan out. But if it did, we could serve it with brownies or pie alike. Mmm. Brownies. Glaiiigh.

Doughnuts are, as always, a strong contender. And not just because they’re currently sort of a trend. Besides, we all talked about this already and we decided we don’t care about trends, right? There is no need to avoid them out of spite.

However. Unlike Mouse, we do not have a superlative doughnut*** shop nestled inside our fair city. What we have is a smattering of average ones. Is this enough to turn me off of the doughnut thing? The jury is out. There is a bit more evidence to weigh by way of tasting samples. And then the jury might have to sample them all again. Just to, uh, you know. Check.

True fact: I once seriously entertained the idea of having the wedding in Portland, Oregon, where the beau is from, just so we could get some Voodoo doughnuts for the wedding. Yes, believe the hype.

Portrait of a Voodoo Doughnut classic: the Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Chocolate, peanut butter, crushed Oreos. Divinely supreme.

Spill it. What wedding dessert(s) are you lusting after? Have you already picked them out? Were you terribly offended by my anti-fondant rant? Were you terribly confused about the paragraph where the guests were rioting, and then I got a divorce?

Don’t worry. I was too.


* Sadly, I did this six months before we even got engaged. That is how reverently I regard wedding dessert.

** I lied. Fine. Our $1,143,799.23 deposit.

*** Or, in the parlance of our times, “Do-nut.”

22 thoughts on “just desserts”

  1. YES! EXACTLY YES! you summed our feelings on fondant perfectly (must forward this to fiance). The only thing we said about our cake is no fondant! nothing sculpted!
    at the fiance’s sister’s wedding, they had a sculpted fondant cake that looked pretty but I never even saw them cut it and I’m quite sure no one ate it. at all. Pie on the other hand sounds wonderful. I was pondering having pies ourselves until our caterer came up with this: flambeed (sp?) peaches, strawberries, and cherries on ice cream with caramel and chocolate and some other amazing toppings. mmmmmm……

    ps. I’m pretty sure my guests will riot when I don’t give them a little party favour each… we can compare pictures later.

  2. Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve never liked cake. R’s idea of fancy cake is Pillsbury Funfetti, which he adorably calls the “burst cake.” So, no, there will be no cake.

    I am making homemade pies from scratch for my wedding. I know it’s crazy. I know I may change my mind the week before. But as of right now, I’m going to do it. Baking is like a destresser for me and I’m assuming I’ll need lots of it before the wedding.

    But because we like dessert so much we’re not stopping there. We’ve got a few cookie bakers who have offered to throw in and we’ll have some candy and storebought cookies as well. A dessert buffet was far more our speed since we both have a huge sweet tooth.

    And you’re not crazy. Fondant isn’t very good. Worth the risk of divorce, methinks.

  3. Dave really, really wants a cake. Even though neither he nor I actually like cake. He can have this little thing about the cake cutting; but if he smears anything on my face, it will be the shorted marriage he’s ever heard about.

    After we cut the cake and auction it off to the highest bidder, we will indulge in pie and other delights. The caterer (who makes super yummy stuff) provides two selections of pies plus coffee and tea – it’s going to be a “dessert station”. People can linger and move at their own pace. We like that idea much better than everyone sitting and being served cake at the same time.

    And those two pie choices?!?!? 1) Toll House Fucking Cookie Pie!! 2) Crumbly Apple Pie. Guys. I am so stoked!

    We might also supplement these two pie choices will additional treats on our own – but we’re not stressin’. Even his super traditional, super picky mom likes our assorted dessert and coffee table idea. So if *she* approves, I’m sure your Ms. Blindly Follows Lemmings Over Cliff friend (aka coworker – sorry if she’s reading…) would approve of this idea!!

  4. Go for some cookies!!!! You might feel greatly encouraged by this wedding tradition:

    You know you can make the dough in advance, freeze it, then hand it off to someone else to bake the day of or day before…

    I think cookies sound fabulous. We had some as favors and meant to have some at the reception too, but they accidentally got put out at the rehearsal dinner and eaten. Oops. But I love the idea… Cookies, and pies, cupcakes, cheesecake, whatever! The more variety the merrier… Mmmm….

  5. This is probably the best (and most entertaining) wedding blog post I’ve ever read 🙂 Certainly the best dessert post!

    This is my first time commenting but I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now, keep up the good work!

  6. This is the best post on cake alternatives I’ve ever read. Must send to my mother to quell her cake obsession now. Also, as for all the cake alternative desserts we’re imagining: cupcakes from Sweet Emilia Jane, some sort of mini red velvet cake for us to cut (Red Velvet is my absolute fave) maybe with an ironic cake topper if I care enough (which I dont. But he may.) Hopefully some brownies or flourless chocolate cake squares from a genius baker friend, and cookies from another genius baker friend. We WILL have delicious sugar overload, but I don’t give a d*mn about whether it’s cake. And I despise fondant, as I have mentioned before.

  7. I hate fondant and can’t understand why anyone would pay to have that on a cake. Yeah, it makes it look all sculptural, but it tastes like wax, IMHO. Maybe I just haven’t met the right fondant yet (Charm City Cakes must have a better recipe?!).

    I like the cookie idea! And pie. And brownies. I saw someone do a tower of cannolis once, and that seemed unbelievably awesome. We’re (I think) doing homemade cupcakes that the guests can ice/decorate… so like a DIY cupcake bar. I figure that way, we can save time by not having to frost them ourselves, and it’ll be easier to transport.

    I want a Voo Doo doughnut so badly… haven’t made it to the pacific northwest yet, but when i do, that’s top priority.

  8. @Maggie- we transported our DIY cupcakes without frosting to the venue in crate and barrel boxes from a couple gifts we had received. Then two friends iced them (on the morning of the wedding) while I set up the candles, trays, cupcake stands, etc. But the DIY thing sounds great too! 🙂 Sprinkles would be so fun to have!!!

  9. @Jess I call that cake “space cake.” I think because it looks like a very colorful surface of an asteroid-pocked moon?

    @Adventures Along the Way Our wedding is in Pittsburgh, and the expectation is that the cookie table is in addition to the cake. My fiance and I are also frustrated about spending so much on a cake we don’t care about, so we’re considering going cookie-table-only. I also fear the riot depicted by Lyn in this post.

  10. @hitchdied I swear there won’t be a riot. At the wedding we just went to, the cake was fine and all, but everyone rioted to get a piece of the mini-ice cream action. And I truly have no recollection of whether they cut the cake in a ceremonial way or not. Really, I don’t stop to watch you serve food so why do I care if you cut cake? I just want tasty sweets. I think most people feel the same way, despite their tiered cake visions.

  11. I’ve worked with several couples who served something other than cake at their wedding. Fact is, I’m working with one right now. It’s YOUR wedding. You can do whatever you want.
    If you don’t want cake, you’re not going to regret having cake. You might regret spending $5-7 a slice for a cake you don’t want, though.

    Serve pie, serve doughnuts, serve mini-cheesecakes. Do a thank you toast during dinner and “introduce” your alternative dessert. Throw in a dig at the fondant (I agree, fondant sucks. Plus it melts in direct sunlight, but that’s another story). Everyone will enjoy it. It’s free dessert, for crying out loud.

  12. I wanted Ted Drewes Frozen Custard shipped up from my beloved St. Louis for our wedding dessert goodies. (go to http://www.teddrewes.com) But, alas, it would cost too much for 200 servings. So instead we’re having FH’s grandmother make her simply awesome carrot cake for the head table, and then getting THE. BEST. CUPCAKES. EVAR. from a local shop (www.acarefreecupcake.com). These are both compromises I can happily chew on. Yum.

  13. This post made my afternoon. Thank you.

    We were thinking of pies and cakes… but I only really like pie with ice cream. But I don’t feel like finding a way to keep ice cream cold outside in the middle of August.

    I do love your cookie idea, but I agree… making 6-7 batches would be a little much. Plus, who wants a herd of angry people with pitchforks and torches throwing a hissy fit on your wedding day?

    For a brief moment today I thought – pudding. Banana, chocolate… well those are the only really good flavors. But hot pudding? What’s a delicious summer treat that won’t be too messy and stores easily???

    I know…. FLA-VOR-ICE!

  14. I am way late to this party but followed some link and needed to post my dessert table menu, just so it could feel loved:

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
    Lemon Lavender Mini Wedding Cakes with Orange Glaze (wedding cookie cutter, not stacked)
    Berry Frangipane Tarts (like a personal cobbler)
    Mexican Wedding Cookies
    Candied Citrus Peel
    Belgian Chocolate Lollipops- Dark Chocolate with Pecan, White Chocolate with Macadamia Nut, Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut
    Handmade Caramels

    Screw the wedding cake and the cake cutting. the end 🙂

  15. Thank you for this post! I actually ended up sending it to my (ever-so-negative) best friend and bridesmaid after she completely FREAKED out about the fact that I was not having a ‘wedding cake’. I’ve hated wedding planning all along and I hate all the goofy, nonsensical ‘traditions’ that we are supposed to be following. My fiancé and I both don’t even like wedding cake and my mom (who is a private caterer) is going to just make us several different fun cakes, pies and (my favorite) a tower of cream puffs. The friend in question’s exact words were “YOUR NOT HAVING A CAKE? PEOPLE ARE EXPECTING A CAKE!” ugh, no thank you.

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