Desserts: Sugar & Spice

Give your fête a pinch of foodie flair with rustic-chic desserts featuring surprisingly complex flavors | Photographs by Barrett Doran; Decor by Michelle Leo Events


Herbal Essence

This trio of minimally styled cakes by pastry chef Alexa Norlin of The Rose Establishment includes a naked vanilla butter cake—layered with a sage and bourbon simple syrup glaze, beurre noisette Swiss buttercream, and pears—and two buttermilk cakes. One is made with fresh peaches, thyme simple syrup glaze, lemon Swiss buttercream filling, and cream cheese Swiss buttercream topped with candied thyme. The other features lemon, lavender simple syrup glaze, lemon cream with candied lavender pieces, and vanilla Swiss buttercream sprinkled with candied lavender.

“I love herbal desserts, and I definitely think they’re part of a trend,” says Norlin. “The foodie movement really enjoys uncommon pairings and unique flavor combinations.” Her pomegranate rose pâte de fruits are tasty bites for dessert buffets or packaged as favors.

Table, linen, olive branch arrangements, and serving pieces (shown throughout),  Michelle Leo Events.


Sugar, Shocked

Sugar and salt are a match made in dessert heaven. Just ask Hilary Cavanaugh of Rue de Lis Desserts, who can’t get enough of the combo. “I remember eating chocolate-covered potato chips as a kid,” she says. “Salty-sweet has always been one of my favorite flavor profiles.”

Inspired by her indulgent childhood treat, she created this spread spiked with sugar and salt: Argentine-style alfajores rolled in coconut, frosted vanilla sugar cookies, vanilla bean baked meringues, bacon maple marshmallows, mini pine nut tarts, and a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate salted caramel tart sprinkled with flakes of sea salt. “I love the variety of sweets you can offer with a dessert bar,” says Cavanaugh. “It’s a fun way to show off the couple’s personalities and tastes at a wedding.”



Ripe for the Picking

“Utah produces amazing stone fruits,” says pastry chef and wedding caterer Alisa Watson of Theo & Eve (801-864-7576). Based in Fruit Heights, Watson doesn’t have to wander far to get her pick of the Beehive State’s best peaches, apples, pears, cherries, plums, and nectarines. She used ripe fruit plucked from trees in her own backyard to bake this lattice-topped peach, pecan, and dark chocolate pie, the brandied pear and Marcona almond crumble pie, and a batch of buttery hazelnut and dried cherry brittle—break it into chunks and package it for sweet guest take-aways.

“Fruity, nutty desserts have a rustic elegance that few ingredient combinations can produce,” Watson says. “Nuts are so essential for texture and that depth of flavor you can’t get from anything else.” She recommends pies instead of cakes for celebrations focused on comfort and family. “There is no stuffiness with pie—just pure simplicity and love.”

Utah peach jam wedding favors, Michelle Leo Events.


Haute Chocolate 

Latin American cultures have long known the tantalizing results of combining picante seasonings with rich cocoa. Lucky for your taste buds, Utah bakers are catching on to this power couple and are incorporating the fiery flavor profile in wedding confections. Case in point: These decadent wintery treats by baker Ange Christiansen of dessert café The Chocolate.

Create sparks at your snowy shindig with Christiansen’s grand tiers of spicy Callebaut dark chocolate cake frosted with buttercream and drizzled with gooey, cayenne pepper-studded, dark chocolate ganache. If you can handle the heat, kick things up a notch with dense Wasabi chocolate brownies, or play it safe with ginger molasses cookies. Wash it all down with tall glasses of cold Winder Dairy milk, or cozy up to mugs of hot cocoa made with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper.



{All photos by Barrett Doran for Salt Lake/Park City Bride & Groom magazine}