Macaroni and cheese becomes an elegant passed appetizer when served in dainty ramekins. Our version features sharp white cheddar and Gruyere.
Combine the luxury of caviar with the simplicity of a soft-boiled egg in a delightful dish for a wedding brunch or shower. We used salmon caviar and orange roe, which are pretty, flavorful, and relatively inexpensive. Acknowledge Cupid with toast cut into hearts and arrows.
The name of this classic drink makes it quite fitting for a wedding. A mix of apple brandy, Benedictine (an herb-and-spice-based spirit originally made by monks), and lemon juice, it's shaken over ice and served in martini glasses. Garnish with fruit leather cut into a crescent shape; serve with printed cocktail napkins or coasters.
Shrimp and grits, a Southern specialty, were a highlight of the reception dinner at Amy Neunsinger and Shawn Gold's Georgia wedding in May of 1999. Departing guests each took home a sackful of grits, which were displayed on a table in enamel basins. Each bag had a recipe for the dish wrapped around the outside.
A wedding is such a sweet occasion, it wouldn't seem right if the coffee were bitter. You can sweeten your guests' after-dinner cappuccinos by having a flower drizzle-drawn atop the steamed milk of each cup using warm chocolate syrup. Serve crisp ginger biscuits alongside.
With a puff-pastry blossom resting atop a flaky crust, a miniature pot pie makes a delightful and delicious first course at a wedding. This favorite home-style dish is filled with a medley of vegetables, including asparagus, carrots, and pearl onions, and baked in a ramekin. Wonderful for a country-themed reception, it would be appropriate to serve at a shower, too.
Sweet marzipan acorns capture the beauty of fall. The marzipan is tinted pale green with food coloring to mimic the appearance of nuts just picked from the tree; a thin coating of bittersweet chocolate, decorated with sprinkles, crowns each one and balances the marzipan's concentrated sweetness. Place the acorns on pressed leaves for a lovely autumn display, and serve them on a dessert buffet or on platters at guests' tables.
These fruit-flavored, flower-shaped candies are a traditional French treat called pates de fruits. A sort of jelly candy, they make a tasty addition to any shower. The candies come from confectioners in small squares, or can be special-ordered in large sheets. Cut shapes using a cookie cutter; then roll in a bowl of confectioners' sugar.
End your celebration with a few oohs (as in diminutive doughnuts) and aahs (as in the delighted response they're sure to evoke) by passing out these traditional breakfast treats as a dessert with coffee service, either skewered on coffee spoons or set in dainty piles. Any way you serve them, guests are sure to circle back for more.
Warm up an autumn cocktail hour with a comforting, colorful shot of savory vegetable soup in eye-catching colors. Guests can sip the harvest flavors of beet, butternut squash, and spinach-pea puree served in diminutive, finger-friendly sake or espresso cups -- no spoon required. With their free hand, they can either raise a glass of Champagne, or reach for seconds.
Basic sugar cookies become elegant favors when stacked to resemble miniature wedding cakes and topped with sugar flowers. Each sugar-cookie cake was spread with royal icing, then assembled once the frosting was set. Small dabs of icing also secure each layer, holding the tower intact while still allowing the cookies to be pulled apart easily. Package in clear plastic boxes, and tie on a hole-punched card-stock tag with ribbon.
As an alternative to plain Champagne, try this cocktail for rehearsal-dinner toasts. To make a Blushing Bride, pour 2 ounces of chilled passion-fruit nectar into a glass; gently pour in 3 ounces of cold Champagne, then 1/2 teaspoon grenadine. Do not shake or stir. The three will commingle as prettily as a flush spreading on the cheek of a shy bride-to-be.
Take a cue from the Milanese, who serve panetonne, a sweet bread made with dried fruit and citrus zest, on special occasions. The loaf is traditionally made in a large panetonne mold, but we baked ours in attractive mini paper ones. Each treat is then wrapped in a cellophane bag tied with a letterpress tag by Austin Press. Bellissimo!
Premade decorations dress up a wedding cake in an instant. Embellishments -- crafted from gum paste or marzipan and painted with food-safe paint -- can be ordered from Wendy Kromer Cake Confections in Sandusky, Ohio (Kromer's cakes often appear in Martha Stewart Weddings). Trimmings are made to order, then shipped. Have your baker make a plain cake (this one is a basic three-layer cake topped with fondant) to use as a canvas for an assortment of adornments, which can be attached with royal icing. Piped trim at the base of each tier provides decoration.
Ice cream molded into the shape of a strawberry makes a lovely accompaniment to slices of wedding cake or a sweet passed dessert on its own. We found these little gems at a specialty ice cream supplier; easy to order, they are shipped in dry ice. Here's a tip for the caterer: A sprinkling of finely crushed nuts or cake crumbs on each plate will prevent the strawberry from sliding.
Make an impression on guests by adding eye-catching detail to basic cookies with ordinary rubber stamps, which come in a wide range of designs, or ceramic cookie stamps. Since rubber stamps can be custom ordered, create your own, like our monogram. To yield the best results, use the stamps on cookie dough containing no leaveners, such as shortbread.
These marshmallows are imported from Paris and, as you might suspect, they're not your typical campfire fare. They are long (about 14 inches), pastel-hued, and quite pretty, especially when fashioned into love knots, time-honored symbols of commitment. Tie marshmallows into basic knots (to keep them from getting stale, don't leave them exposed to the air for too long), and place in cellophane bags.
This cake is as magical as the season's first flurry. Snowflakes made from royal icing are miniature at the top of the cake and larger at the bottom, giving the impression of a gracefully drifting snowfall. The tiers are frosted smoothly with Swiss meringue to resemble tightly packed snow.
As the reception dinner winds down with coffee, give your guests one last delicious treat -- fresh cherries dipped in melted white chocolate. This fruit is at its best during the summertime, making it a perfect choice for a warm-weather wedding. A pair of cherries with the stems attached will perch daintily on a saucer.
Fluffy, snow-white meringue tops the layers of this cake. Unbaked meringue holds its shape well when piped; a large star tip (Ateco No. 869) was used to form these fluted peaks. Meringue not only looks lovely, it tastes delicious, especially when flavored with a few drops of vanilla extract or orange-blossom water. (A pale or clear flavoring works best because it won't mar the pure white of the meringue.)
Just as the coffee is being served, the dancing always seems to begin in earnest, leaving guests with cold coffee when they return to the table. At your reception, offer caramel wafers to rest across the top of the cup -- the coffee will stay warm and the caramel will soften, turning the wafer into a sweet gooey treat.
Just don't call them Jell-O shots. These sangria-inspired gelees, infused with sweet wines and subtly undercut with citrus flavors, are for sophisticated palates. The glistening, gemlike squares make a refreshing dessert and add fetching sunset hues to a reception table.