Good Things to Eat
To get your meal off to a great start, perk up pats of butter with zesty herbs and spices. These four delicious combinations, include (clockwise from top left) turmeric and mustard seed; Asian nori and sesame; smoked chipotle and lime; and lemon basil. At your reception, set each table with assorted compounds in passable dishes; between bites, total strangers can become friends while trading their tasting notes on each variety.
Like the carnival apples you’d drool over as a tyke, these fruits, which include pears, cherries, and apricots, were popped on sticks and dunked in various glazes. Contributing editor Peter Callahan, of Peter Callahan Catering in New York City, who made all the desserts on this page, suggests setting out a selection after dinner. Or, have servers pass them to revelers later in the night.
Packing some major flavor ammo, these “spoons”— each dipped in different delectable chocolate combos—are meant to be swirled in coffee or warm milk served in petite demitasse cups. And, with a sugar-cookie base, the mouthwatering delights can withstand repeat dippings.
One-bite treats with seasonal ingredients have all the appeal of their Thanksgiving-size counterparts, minus the food coma. Set out an assortment buffet-style, or serve a trio to each guest in lieu of a slice of cake.
Here, we plated a Heart-Shaped Apple-and-Raspberry Hand Pie, Chocolate-Ginger Ganache Phyllo Cup, and Red-Wine Poached Plum Tartlet. You could also ask your caterer to make a mini-me version of your favorite.
These bite-size treats may be breakfast foods, but they make equally delicious late-night snacks for your wedding guests.
Mini Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese becomes an elegant passed appetizer when served in dainty ramekins. Our version features sharp white cheddar and Gruyere.
Ice Cream Cups
These tiny ice cream cups are ideal for a no-mess refreshing dessert -- or a snack during cocktails. The cups are made on a pizzelle iron, which is available at cookware stores and looks like a flat, decorative waffle iron.
Elegant Eggs with Caviar Butter
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.
Red Potatoes with Sour Cream and Caviar
Choose the smallest, most blemish-free red-skinned potatoes, allowing two to three per person. You can either boil or bake the potatoes -- either will work for this dish.
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.
Spring Vegetable Potpies
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.
Thin breadsticks are enriched with a lively flavor and hue when they're infused with extracts of beet, carrot, parsley, or tomato.
Cinnamon-Orange Molasses Cookies
The dough for these cookies is firm, making it ideal to cut out in shapes.
At the cocktail hour, serve crunchy vegetables complete with their own dip: buttermilk-peppercorn, roasted pepper and eggplant, or toasted curry. Their bowls -- hollowed-out slices of baguettes in pumpernickel, plain, or everything -- are meant to be eaten, too.
Sweet Marzipan Acorns
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.
End your celebration 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.
Roasted Mushrooms with Robiola and Truffle Oil
Roasted wild mushrooms lie on a bed of Robiola, a mild and soft Italian cheese. Ribbons of flat-leaf parsley and a drop of white truffle oil perfume the whole.
Let guests cleanse their palates with a miniature "cake" molded from sorbet. 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.
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.
Take a cue from the Milanese, who serve panettone, a sweet bread made with dried fruit and citrus zest, on special occasions. The loaf is traditionally made in a large panettone 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!
Ham and Egg Hors d'Oeuvres
For a chic twist on bacon and eggs, serve crispy prosciutto cups filled with baked quail eggs, plus toasted rye cocktail bread, cut in half, on the side. These stylish appetizers work well at a post-wedding brunch or bridal luncheon.
Beet Chip Hors d'Oeuvres
For a finger-friendly take on classic beet-and-goat-cheese salad, serve fried beet chips topped with a dollop of the tangy cheese and vinaigrette-laced microgreens. They make perfect hors d'oeuvres -- crispy instead of juicy beets means no one will be caught red-handed.
Eggs in Nests
These egg desserts, made with delicious white chocolate, will remind you of the snowstorm outside as they warm up your taste buds.
Spicy Asian Brittle
For a milder version, eliminate the wasabi peas and red pepper.
Nuts in a Single Serving
At a cocktail hour, pass candy cups of sweet and savory roasted nuts for a delicious, no-fuss treat. Each paper bowl holds just the right snack-size amount. Our homemade mix is served with store-bought Marcona almonds.
For these savory napoleons, wonton wrappers are sprinkled with coarse salt, baked, then layered with herbed ricotta cheese. A basil sprig, black-olive slice, and wedge of shiny roasted red pepper form a topknot.
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.
Savory madeleines can be flavored with many varieties of herbs, seasonings, and cheeses. Some options are Gruyere cheese, fresh rosemary, and cayenne pepper.
In this version of pan tomate, Serrano ham and sun-dried tomato butter create a Spanish-inspired union of savory flavors.
Frozen phyllo dough is available in most supermarkets. To keep it from drying out while you work, cover the dough you're not using with a damp kitchen towel.
These containers were made to look like humble brown-paper bags, but that's where the resemblance ends. Sweet and crunchy, they can hold fruit or candy and can be served as an individual dessert as part of a buffet, or offered as a take-home favor.
Deviled Quail Eggs with Caviar
A deviled quail egg dressed with caviar and dill sits atop a piece of pumpernickel bread.
White Chocolate-Covered Cherries
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.
Caramel Coffee Warmers
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.
Citrus Wine Gelees
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.
White treats are just right for a winter wedding, while the coconut flavor gives just enough sweet nostalgia for the summer months.
Customized Letter Cookies
Everyone knows you and your groom are cut out for each other; these monogrammed shortbread sandwich cookies just drive home the point. Let store-bought cookie cutters do the heavy lifting; we used a round ruffly one to get the shape and mini alphabet cutters for the monogram. Between the layers: sweet-tart rhubarb jam -- another perfect match.
Custom Colored Candies
Specialty vendors such as Translucent Chocolates make it easy to match your wedding favors with your decor. Just send them a fabric swatch, color chip, or other sample of your wedding colors, and they'll custom-mix candies in the same hues. Vendors generally offer a large assortment -- we chose candy-covered sunflower seeds, dried apricots, and mini chocolates.