Category Archives: dessert

the details, part five: desserts

You guys might already know I didn’t want a cake.

You guys might also already know I had sworn off DIY that involved dishes and glassware.

Well, in the end the no cake principle stood. The DIY dessert plates , well… let’s just say that my resolve crumbled. Kind of like a crumb cake. Because marriage has clearly dulled my edge, and now I cannot think of a more clever metaphor than that.

I turned back towards the dark side of DIY because honestly, it was going to be cheaper than buying new plates and stands on which to present the desserts at the wedding, even if they were very basic. And I figured that what had gone wrong with the first tiered dessert stand I made was the the stems of the glassware were probably too delicate to be supporting a number of heavy plates, hence the the snapping and the breaking. I also figured that I could get around that by:

  1. Limiting the dessert stands to just one layer; i.e., one plate and one glass.
  2. Using sturdier glasses.

So with that rough plan in mind, we set off to hunt the thrift stores. At the first two stores we didn’t have much luck. I didn’t really have a plan for what I wanted the damn dessert stands to look like, I just wanted them done. I mean, at this point we were three weeks from the wedding and we were drowning in our task list. So I’d go around the store, picking up any plate that didn’t sear my eyeballs or break my soul and holding it up for the beau to see. Eh? What about this? He’d always shrug: “I dunno.” So I’d sigh, and put it down. GOD. I JUST WANTED PLATES. WHY IS EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH WEDDINGS SO INFERNALLY DIFFICULT?

But then! Then. The third store we went to, I saw these:

I got that look in my eye.

$5 later, I walked out of the thrift store with these plates, plus five glasses and a doily. And the next store? Dear lord, I hit the motherlode:

I loved these things. The beau? He wasn’t incredibly enthusiastic about them. But he didn’t hate them either. And at that point all it really took was for one of us to like something in order to sway the other. So with his blessing, I went about grabbing up every plate I liked. Besides the ones pictured above, I also picked up a plate of Hoover Tower on the campus of Stanford University, a plate of Santa Barbara City High School, a Jimmy Carter presidential plate, a plain plate with a green stripe, and so on. It didn’t matter whether or not it matched any of the other plates. It didn’t matter what color it was. It didn’t even matter what size. I just got what I liked.

And in retrospect I think that’s the thing that really worked for us about the wedding: we didn’t buy something unless we liked it. Sometimes this caused frustration, like all the times we went searching for something only to walk away empty handed. But when it worked, it really worked.

As for the glasses, I tried to get them in a variety of heights so that the dessert stands wouldn’t be all on the same level. I picked up old jars, old drinking glasses, decorative candy dishes, decorative ice cream dishes — anything that looked like it was durable and solid enough to support a plate.

I just winged it. I didn’t really know what I was getting, or how much of it to get. In addition to the plates and glasses, I ended up getting some basic serving trays at the thrift stores, too. We spent about $0.30 to $3.00 on each item.

Two days before the wedding, we broke out the Plumbers’ Goop and made an impromptu assembly line: I picked out which plate and glass went with each other, and the beau glued them together. It went pretty fast, I think. In all, it wasn’t that bad of a project.

Also, I want to just say that Fabio took such a keen liking to the Jimmy Carter presidential plate that I gave it to him the day after the wedding. Thanks for coming! Here’s your commemorative dessert stand.

Okay okay okay, and what about the desserts you actually put on them, you say? Well, I should tell you that we had five pies: two apple, one cherry, one pumpkin, and one mixed berry. We also had about four dozen peanut butter cookies, about six dozen miniature brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar, one dozen vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, and one dozen vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. Sounds like a lot, huh? Sounds like we got in way over our heads.

Well. We had 95 guests, and not one dessert was left by the end of the night. In fact, I only got to have a taste of apple pie, and one peanut butter cookie. The beau? He didn’t get to try anything. Yeah. All gone. And I’m not really sure what happened, here. I saw my uncle stuffing cookies in his pockets, and I heard a story recently about my aunt wrapping some in a napkin and putting them in her purse. And maybe some of the staff ate some? And I thought I heard something about my brigadier taking part of a pie, or maybe a whole pie? I don’t know all the details. All I know is that EVERYTHING WAS GONE. This was good, because we weren’t interested in toting loads of leftovers back home. But this was also bad because my family is still like, I NEVER GOT TO TRY THAT PIE. Sheesh. You can’t please everyone so you may as well not even try.

And with that I think I’ll leave you with some shots of the desserts in action, courtesy of our photographers:


Tell me about your dessert plan. What did you do, or plan to do?

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Photos 1-7 by me, of what dessert stands we have left (I kept a lot… I couldn’t part with all of them). Photos 8 and 9 by Aaron Rosenblatt. Photos 10-14 by Christina Richards.

potential

Tuesday was the beau’s 30th birthday. We’d already gone skydiving on Saturday, so we kept the “real” celebration mellow. We stayed in with our best pal and brigadier,* and I made a special dinner of tator tot casserole, like the white trash we apparently aspire to be.

I was also supposed to bake something for his birthday. Oh yes, this was a big fat deal, because I like baking, and he loves it when I bake. So I always make this big production of having him pick some new dessert, and then I whip it up all special-like. This year the beau had his sights set on a chocolate caramel pecan pie. I’d never successfully made a pie crust from scratch, but damn if I wasn’t going to try. I even found a recipe for vodka pie dough, which according to reviews was supposed to produce the most tender, flaky pie crust on the face of the planet and make you weep with sheer joy. That or win the lottery. Probably both, actually.

I don’t have a food processor.** And I knew deep down inside that using a blender to combine the butter and flour would indubitably end in failure, but my tendency toward lazy-assery insisted that I should give it a shot. SURPRIZE, it did not work. Time to try cutting in the butter by hand! I set about scraping the contents of the blender into a bowl, which due to the fact that we have approximately one square foot of counter space in the kitchen was perched haphazardly on the edge of the sink, when SURPRIZE, the bowl tipped over into the sink. That was all the butter I had in the house, sitting right there in the sink. Being the calm, rational person I am, I handled this new development by bursting into tears and sobbing as if someone had died. Aw, look whose hormones decided to come out and play!

After I finally stopped wailing, then started again later while folding laundry because I don’t even know why, my best guess is that folding laundry totally sucks and is something to get incredibly upset about, then stopped again and finally calmed down for good, I decided that there would be no baking this year. Sorry, beau. Yes, I know that thirty is a big deal birthday-wise, and I wanted to do something really spectacular for you, but now I’m just running out of time and oh my god, I’d better stop thinking about it now or I’ll start bawling once more.

IN SUMMARY: That was fun! Let’s do this again in one month, please!

Maybe I couldn’t make my partner a tasty treat myself, but I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to provide him excessive amounts of sugar somehow. So on Tuesday morning, I marched myself down the block to a bakery, and proceeded to order a dozen cupcakes. Even though I wanted the cupcakes ready that very same day, they let me order special flavors. So I picked chocolate salted caramel and bacon maple pancake. They whipped them up and had them ready at 4:00 pm. Is that awesome or what?

I took these pictures post-birthday, after the leftover cupcakes had had candles stuck in them and their tops smashed in from sitting in a box in the refrigerator overnight. Even at a day old, they were still so very incredibly delicious.

I have about three words to say about that, and they are HELL @$#!%*&#@!*$#% YES.

Are these wedding dessert contenders? Possibly. Very, very possibly. It’ll come down to the price, really — the dozen I bought worked out to $2.75 each, which is spendy for a cupcake. On the other hand, these aren’t your typical grocery store cupcakes, either. On the other other hand, they said they charged extra for “wedding” cupcakes (of course) because they deliver and set up the cupcakes on tiered stands for you. I am doubtful that we actually need that level of service, but then again if we don’t have the dessert delivered, someone will have to leave the wedding and go pick them up. And there is no kitchen onsite, so we can’t just go get the cupcakes in the morning and store them at the venue all day. What if it’s hot? The frosting would melt. Yeah. So I am confused about how that whole thing is going to work out. We may have to just settle on a dessert that’s melt-proof. Like pie. Or Twinkies.

At any rate, the bakery also told me I could pick out three flavors and come in for a tasting, so I need to set that up very soon. We just polished off the birthday cupcakes last night, and I’m already experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Never mind the fact that every time I eat one, I feel like running around the block/punching someone in the face/staring very intently at the wall for several minutes. Sugar!!!!!!!11! I hate you, I love you, come back to me.

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* My brigadier moved into our spare room for the summer! At last, my life is one step closer to becoming an episode of Friends!

** OH HAI wedding registry alert!

while i’m on the subject

Listen. I have to come completely clean with you. The wine stoppers? Those weren’t the only DIY I tried. I’m sorry, OK? I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but it’s just that we’ve come to trust each other. I felt I had to tell you… that I also dabbled in tiered dessert stands.

I’ll give you a moment.

No doubt you’ve already seen a version of a DIY dessert stand tutorial floating around the wedding interwebs. Still, in order to help us all heal, I need to talk it through. So I’m gonna tell you, step by step, how I did it.

  1. First, get some plates and glasses. My glasses came from a thrift store. Plus 20 points! But I bought the plates new from World Market. CONVENIENCE PURCHASE ALERT! Minus 1,937 points. Am already flunking DIY school, and I’ve barely begun.
  2. Go the hardware store and buy some goop. Plumber’s Goop. This is different from Plumber’s Crack, which can also be found at the hardware store, provided you are vigilant enough.*
  3. Lay out all your supplies. Ed. note: Glass of booze not pictured.
  4. Play with your supplies. How do you want the glasses oriented? Up? Down? How do you want the plates stacked? Do you feel that the general themes of nineteenth century Russian literature are relevant to today’s society? Don’t you like popsicles?
  5. Eat some leftover frosting.
  6. OK! Here’s the key part: Slather goop all around the top and bottom rims of your glass. Place the glass onto the plate so that it’s centered. Ed. note: Your perception of “centered” may vary depending on the number of glasses of booze heretofore employed.
  7. Carefully set the middle plate on top of the glass.
  8. Slather goop onto the second glass, and repeat the centering thing. Finish with the final plate. Contemplate your troubled relationship with that Ke$ha song “TiK ToK.” Attempt to salvage your indie street cred by vociferously announcing to all in the room, including people you converse with on the phone who may hear it on in the background, that you’re only listening to it “ironically.”
  9. Remember that you have no indie street cred.
  10. OK, good. Now, do not move the dessert stand! Give it 24 hours to finish drying. Which means that you probably shouldn’t have built the stand right there on the dining room table, from which the stand is now emanating fumes. Whoops. Ed. note: That headache eventually goes away.

That’s it! You now have a lovely tiered dessert stand that you can use to display your favorite treats again and again, until the end of time, or at least until it shatters in the car on the way to your party while your mother is holding it in her lap. Seriously. The stems of the glasses just snapped right in half. Utterly destroyed before it even saw its first cupcake.

*throwing hands in the air*

IN SUMMARY: DIY AND I DO NOT GET ALONG. I have subsequently quit DIY and am currently in a 12-step recovery program.

Let us never speak of this again.

THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.

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* Ask for Earl.

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.

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* 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.”

and the cake was from safeway

The cake in question

I can’t get this Offbeat Bride post out of my mind.

More specifically, I can’t get this quote out of my mind: “And the cake was from SAFEWAY.” Yes, the bride wrote the name of the grocery store in all caps, and rightfully so. Because who does that?

This couple does that. And they rocked it, too.

A grocery-store cake takes some chutzpah. Because I’m pretty sure the Indie DIY Wedding Club would have revoked their membership after a move like that. “It has come to our attention that the bride neglected to hand-craft her cake from organic fair-trade ingredients. Your wedding is made of FAIL.”

On a completely different note: Has anybody ever pulled Steve Perry aside and quietly pointed out that OH HAI, THERE IS NO SOUTH DETROIT. There is just water. City boy must have been born and raised a fish? Next time you make a fist-pumping, guitar-soloing sing-a-long bar anthem you should double check a map, sir.

Steve Perry: “HEY YOU GUYS I FOUND SOUTH DETROIT, IT IS REALLY NICE HERE.” (image source: Wikipedia)