Very Berry Cakes and Confections
Baskets of Berries
Early summer is the best time to choose a cake like this one -- brimming with a fresh and varied assortment of the season's best berries.
Fresh strawberries top stacked pound cakes instead of the traditional biscuits; mascarpone cream is sandwiched between the layers.
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.
As a prelude to the wedding cake, give each guest a miniature version molded from sorbet, a palate cleanser. For a sweet decoration, the bride's and groom's initials are piped in chocolate along the edge of each plate, and the sorbet cake is garnished with raspberries.
In the charlotte, featherlight ladyfingers surround a filling of raspberry mousse, raspberries, and fraises des bois, or wild strawberries, on soft almond biscuits. More berries and a drizzle of raspberry preserve crown the tiers.
A two-dimensional calico print comes to life on a cake with diminutive hand-sculpted flowers, leaves, and fruits; the soft colors are reminiscent of the faded look of a vintage apron.
Sabayon (called zabaglione in Italy) can be served over cake, ice cream, or fruit; it is a lovely way to dress up a simple white cake. Sprinkle some berries on each plate to add a dash of color and a fresh taste.
Mini Blossoms and Berries
This scaled-down version of a large tiered cake is layered inside with different cakes, white-chocolate mousse, and fresh strawberries, all sealed under white modeling chocolate. The strawberries and their leaves are molded from the same material. Blossoms are made from gum paste, and tiny leaf swags are piped from white-chocolate ganache.
Your guests won't mind brownbagging their desserts when the sacks are made from delicious dark chocolate. These edible containers are filled with plump mixed berries and topped with dollops of whipped cream, but you can also use the ready-made bags to hold a chocolate mousse or seasonal fruit compote. Best of all, they can be filled ahead of time and refrigerated, then served to guests.
Wendy's Mini Pies
Individual miniature pecan and cherry pies were baked by family members in Wendy's pastry shop.
Whimsical and sweet, like strawberries themselves, this cake -- with its gum-paste fruits and flowers atop white-washed fondant -- is a nod to classic Bavarian style. A basket filled with tiny strawberries tops off the countryside-chic creation.
Mini berry desserts make for enticing accompaniments. Vacherins (meringues topped with rose-water whipped cream and a slice of strawberry), panna cotta capped with strawberry gelatin, and strawberry and creme fraiche tarts all pay homage to the petite fruit.
A dessert buffet was created by Jesse's aunt, who is a pastry chef. Handmade paper parasols on wooden skewers make the sweets even more festive.