Photo: John Robert Woods
It's your wedding, and you can have your cake and eat it too. You just want to make sure it melts in the mouth and not on the table, right? Right! To help that super cute dessert table of yours beat the heat at your outdoor summer wedding, we asked a few catering and pastry pros to share their genius tips and tricks on keeping sweets nice and cool.
Don't choose desserts that melt fast.
So yeah, ice cream is probably off the table, sorry brides (unless you have on-site refrigeration that is, then you're good to go)! Even a candy station needs to take the melt-factor into account too, notes Sarah Hall, President of Joel Catering and Special Events. "Choose classic summer sweets like saltwater taffy and old-fashioned lollipops, macaroons and Jordan almonds. They come in gorgeous colors and are melt-resistant."
Do consider outsourcing your dessert table entirely.
Instead, find a dessert food truck where everything can be kept at ideal temps until it's served, suggests Hall. "In New Orleans, for example, we have a gourmet liquor popsicle truck that is always a hit." You can do snow cones, ice cream or whatever your little heart and sweet tooth desire.
Don't forget to think about the frosting.
Turns out, high heat and frosting don't always mix. While your cake should be chilling in the air conditioning prior to being served, that doesn't mean it won't be exposed to brutal temps during transport, warns Hall. Thus, it's important to pick the right kind of frosting and filling (ask your cake designer about this!) and, if temps are really high and you're displaying it outside, steer clear of whipped cream and maybe even buttercream. "You could also have a faux cake for display, then serve sheet cake from the kitchen."
Do use vanilla to keep the bugs at bay.
Did you know that insects don't like the smell of vanilla? According to Food Network Cupcake Wars Champion pastry chef and owner of Ava's Cupcakes, Michelle Spell, it's true! She recommends diluting 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract with 1 cup of water and wiping it on your tablecloth to prevent mosquitoes, black flies and ticks from tasting your sweets on the big day. "Some additional natural bug repellent options include spraying the table with white vinegar diluted with water (2 parts water, 1 part vinegar). This solution can be used all year round," she tells us. "Or simply use citrus and herbs. Slice into a lemon skin so the juice drips out. Add a sprig of mint or rosemary. It looks pretty, and bugs don't like it."
Do serve up fresh (and drip-free) fruit.
There's nothing like biting into a big slice of watermelon on a hot day! To keep the juices from dripping down your guests' dresses and suits though, Spell offers this advice: "First, cut a thin slice off the side to create a flat surface. Then, cut 1" slices horizontally and vertically so you're left with popsicle-sized slices. Kids (and adults) will be able to pull out pieces and enjoy without the juices spilling all over their mouths and hands." Another scrumptious idea? Choose fruit pies, crostatas and other delicious pastries that celebrate summer produce yet can stand up to the heat, advises Emily LeSuer, Catering Chef, Saltbox Kitchen Catering.
Don't dismiss dry ice.
Dry ice is your friend! If you can't imagine summer without a frozen treat and aren't down with a full-on dessert truck, then make it happen by setting up a cooler or bucket with dry ice and individual ice cream sandwiches, popsicles or mini sundaes, suggests LeSuer. "Replenish them as they are eaten and everything should stay cold."