NACE Members Forecast the Year’s Most Popular Sweet Treats

So Long Cupcakes, Hello Options!

Melanie Brzozowski, Chef’s Expressions, Baltimore, Md.

Dessert in Tall Shot Glass - White and Strawberry Bavarian credit Chef's Expressions

Cupcakes are finally on their way out. They have stuck around much longer than expected. And while they will still have a presence, it will be nothing like we have seen the past two to three years. So what will be “in”? Dessert action stations are still going to be hot. Chefs making ice cream or gelato in front of the guests, interactive s’mores bars, and sweet crepe stations were all big toward the end of last year.Ice Cream Action Station Credit Chef's Expressions

That trend will build this year and include nostalgic twists—like “make your own ice-cream sandwich” or creating gelatos infused with alcohol. Butlered desserts will continue to make an appearance as will late-night comfort desserts, especially in the colder months, like milk and chocolate chip cookies or strawberry shortcake shooters. Sweet and salty combinations will always be a hit but instead of just chocolate truffles with sea salt, other fun trends arise, like kettle corn topped with sparkly edible glitter and passed in paper cones. Pie bars will also be popular.

Although there will always be wedding cakes, the number of clients wanting something else grows significantly each year. One couple this year wants a sweet food truck to arrive outside their venue toward the end of their reception. This is a great idea, especially if there is something else going on outside, such as custom fireworks for the couple.

Let them eat cake, and have fun, too!

Doug Quattrini, Feastivities Events, 

Feastivitivities photo Meryl Snow 1

The focus continues to shift away from elaborate and ornate wedding cakes. Several of our couples are using a small cake for a photo op as opposed to something that will feed all of their guests. The most prevalent trend is the downsizing of desserts into individual portion sizes, presented in fun and unique serving vessels. Mini mason jars, as an example, are being used to serve seasonal pies, parfaits, and puddings. This allows for a wide variety of desserts to be offered and can be easily added to a display, passed as a butlered dessert to guests who are up and moving around, or arranged on platters and placed on guest tables for a “family-style” dessert option.

Mini desserts also provide a great opportunity for including a family or favorite recipe. As an unexpected touch to “traditional” coffee service, mini donuts served directly on a coffee cup turn something that is a bit of a requirement into something fun.

Savory elements, as opposed to only sweet continue to work their way into desserts as well. Bacon ice cream? Bacon added to a traditional S’more? Bacon added to popcorn? Why not? It’s not just about having something predictable anymore as the definition of what constitutes a dessert is getting a little more fuzzy.

Another trend is adding an interactive element to dessert, which is almost a requirement. Guests expect more, and rightfully so. After you’ve impressed and delighted them with fun hors d’oeuvres and great entrees, why not end on a high note? Mixing ice cream, on marble slabs, to guest specifications and in their presence, building mini sundaes for them, serving cookies off a warm griddle—any interaction you add elevates the item being served.

Get ready to go over-the-top

Warren Dietel, Puff ‘n Stuff Catering, 
Orlando, Fla.

PuSu_034 Credit Puff 'n Stuff Events Catering

Couples are beginning to request rich and decadent desserts. A great example of this is an over-the-top version of a chocolate cake, happily named the CX7. As the name implies, there are seven heavenly layers of goodness including a flourless chocolate sponge, chocolate creameaux, and a chocolate macadamia caramel.PuSu_037Credit Puff 'n Stuff Events Catering

Another trend is the transition away from stations to butler-passed desserts. This adds a layer of sophistication and encourages guests to try bite-sized items. This is the perfect serving option for another popular request, the macaron. For years, couples have been finding ways to infuse their wedding with their favorite personal touches, creating a unique guest experience. Now, they can take this a step further and create custom cookie flavors in any color combination.

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