But I Want to be Different! Alternatives to Traditional Wedding Cakes

It’s no secret to my friends and family that I am a connoisseur of all things confection related. From chocolate, fruit tarts, pies, cupcakes, baked goods filled with sweet luscious goodness….and cakes….I love it all. I have fond memories of visiting the Italian bakeries with my Mom, picking out crème puffs and Italian cookies. Don’t get me started on the cakes! One thing I have noticed is how the wedding cake has truly evolved from simple and traditional to original and funky. My parents black and white wedding photos contain a standard white wedding cake, baked by my grandmother. Nothing fancy, but a lot of love and dreams went into that cake! For my own wedding, I stuck with a classic cake. White buttercream and vanilla cake. I had no desire to stand out or be different. I wanted classic style, taste and simplicity, which was reflective of my wedding day, and that’s what I got. But times have changed, and couples today may be searching for ways to be unique from their personal style to their jobs, right down to the type of cake they envision. Some may choose not to have cake at all! Say it isn’t so! No matter, I am here to offer alternatives to the “traditional wedding cake.” Enjoy.



Since I am Italian, my mind goes directly to all things from my heritage. How about profiteroles? These are delicious, bite -sized crème filled pastries, with rich chocolate ganache on the outside. Why not stack them up on each other, with a touch of fresh cream and sprinkles? It’s a tasty alternative.

Love donuts? Did you know you could have a donut cake? It’s true! They exist. You may choose one giant donut as your cake, or hundreds of small donuts in various colors, frostings and fillings. Or how about donut holes? Build donut holes on top of each other for a unique and delicious look. Not to mention this is a cost effective way to have your cake and eat it too! Yum!
How about individual cakes for each table? Rather than offering a slice from one giant cake, have cakes that serve each table (between 8-12 guests) and decorate them with the colors and flowers from your wedding.

So, you aren’t a cake lover but you adore a great pie? Replace the cake with small, individual pies. You can choose the flavor based on the season. For example, for a summer wedding choose coconut or blueberry. For fall, apple or pumpkin pie. The combinations are endless!
How about stacked Bundt cakes? Simple, moist and delicious. Almost everyone loves a great Bundt cake. Cover with a simple glazed icing for a more casual home-style feel.

How about bringing out the inner child among your guests? A cost effective and delicious “cake alternative” involves mixing a popular rice cereal and marshmallows! Serve your rice cereal “crispy treat” along with a “help yourself “ candy bar and your wedding dessert is complete and memorable!
How about cake pops? These cute mini cakes on a stick are very popular. Color coordinate with your wedding colors and provide three options for guests. For example, vanilla, chocolate and red velvet on the inside, with complementing icings on the outside. Set up a table so guests may help themselves after the meal. Easy, inexpensive and a great alternative to a cake slice.

These are just a few alternatives if you are looking to replace the “traditional” wedding cake. There are many options out there and the combinations of style, choice and design are as unique as you are. Imagine. Be different! You will surely stand out from the crowd.


Give Me 5 Minutes To Share Some Tips About Wedding Cakes

Did I grab your attention? I hope so! Weddings are a magical, romantic and a special time in your life. There are so many things to consider from a date, a dress, choosing groomsmen and bridesmaids, the venue, the type of ceremony, and on and on and on…right? And o

25fc7118bd9f80e2551bc1fb80a15c76ne of the many things you have to consider is the wedding cake. I love a fun, festive wedding. And the cake should reflect the type of day you want. Here are some things to consider when choosing a wedding cake:

The number one, most important thing you MUST consider when choosing a cake: the taste! That’s right. It seems obvious, but sometimes brides can get caught up with the “look” of the cake and forget-it has to taste good! Why spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a cake that doesn’t taste good? It should be moist, flavorful and delicious.
That leads me to my second point: the baker. The person you choose is very important. Ask for referrals and recommendations from friends. Go to the baker and taste samples. Ask for pictures, a portfolio and a customer reviews.
Here’s a tip: start early! Don’t wait until a few weeks before the wedding to think about your cake. If you have the luxury of time, start checking bakers out at least 6 months in advance if possible. Usually, the busy bakers are popular because they are good, and their services are in high demand.
Make sure the person you choose to make your cake is licensed, insured and can deliver the cake on the day of your wedding. Availability and service counts!
It’s very helpful to bring photos from magazines or other media to show the cake maker what you like and what you are searching for. This gives them an idea of your taste and style.
Once you have the baker chosen and are pleased with the taste, it’s time to make other choices concerning your cake:

Type of Cake3330712620_5016803231_wedding_cake_636_xlarge_xlarge

Flavor. Do you want vanilla, chocolate, or something off the beaten path? Fruit filled? Buttercream or fondant?
What shape would you like? Square, circle, rectangular, a mish mash of all?
Color- do you want the cake to match a theme? The color of your bouquet? Match the bridesmaid dresses? Match the season?
What is your wedding theme? Is it casual? Romantic? Classic? Modern? Whimsical? The cake should reflect your overall theme.
Do you want additions to the cake? For instance, sugar flowers or bows. Will they be edible? Will you have fresh flowers on the cake? Fruit? What about the filling? Do you need to consider gluten free options?

Cake Toppers59a3183c561cccc124495e58387f7145

There are literally thousands of things you could put on top of your cake. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Some couples opt for a traditional bride and groom. Perhaps a figurine, whether it’s edible or not. Others like a sugar “statement” piece on top, such as a large grouping of flowers or a special design. Others choose a monogram. Literally, you can have pretty much what you want, if you can imagine it. If you have a talented baker, he or she should be able to design a cake with your unique taste and style in mind.

Shopping around for wedding cakes should be an enjoyable experience. With time, planning and ideas, it could be one of the least stressful decisions you’ll have to make regarding your wedding day.


The Best Confection Gift Ideas For Your Sweeties

Any time is perfect for giving the gift of something sweet to the sweeties in your life. Whether it’s a birthday, the arrival of new baby, or something for the holidays, nothing says, “I love you!” more than a tasty homemade confection. The ideas and the combinations are endless. I love giving homemade gifts to friends and family. These work also for your business associates, employees or anyone else you wish to acknowledge. Below, I’ve listed some of my very favorite and easy ideas.



Popcorn is a beloved crunchy treat that is satisfying and yummy. My kids love it when I make a big bowl and top with salt and melted butter for family movie night. But, why stop at butter and salt? There are many other things to top your popcorn with. Try a few of these:

Carmel Corn-drizzle this over freshly popped corn and mix well
White Chocolate-melt chocolate and mix with freshly popped corn
Dark/Milk Chocolate-melt and incorporate over popcorn

Add colorful sprinkles of your color choice while popcorn is still wet. The sprinkles will adhere to the treat, and add a festive touch. Place it in a colorful or seasonal metal tin, and wrap with a ribbon.

Potato Chips and Pretzels


Why not combine the perfect flavors of savory and sweet? Salted crunchy chips and pretzels are the perfect vessel for adding chocolate goodness. There’s nothing better than taking a bite out of something salty and sweet. It’s melt in your mouth, satisfying perfection on the palate! Try these for gifts for friends, too.

For small pretzels, try dipping the entire pretzel in white or dark chocolate. White chocolate may be colored depending on the event. Add colored sprinkles before drying
For pretzel rods and potato chips, dip half into a melted bowl of dark chocolate. For added fun, drizzle white melted chocolate over that, in a zigzag pattern. You may add wish to add sprinkles to your pretzel rods. The potato chips are better without the sprinkles.

These display nicely in a few ways: grab a small tin and fill. I prefer to purchase clear plastic bags at the local craft store. For the chips, line the clear bag with some colored tissue and gently place them into the bag to avoid breakage. Pretzel rods look gorgeous in these bags. Simply tie the top with a colorful ribbon or bow.



I’ve written about these lovely nuggets of rich chocolate goodness. Try the recipe out! They are easy to make. Roll the outside of your truffles in whatever you wish: cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or colorful sugar crystals. You may purchase candy boxes at your local craft store. Place them in the box. Add a clever tag like “Homemade From My Kitchen With Love.” Who wouldn’t appreciate that?

Other Ideas

A basket of your favorite high quality chocolate bars and a bottle of delicious red wine
A plateful of colorful macarons either homemade or purchased from your local bakery
A tinful of penny candy, purchased at the old style general store
Cakepops! Buy of make these sweet treats on a stick. Mix and match flavors and colors
A chocolate dipped fruit arrangement
These are a few gift ideas for the special people in your life. Sweet confections are loved by many, and a great idea for the holidays, birthdays, or just to let someone know “I’m thinking about you.” Say it with sweet treats, filled with love.


Oh The French Macaron: Bites of Tasty Perfection

I’m not talking about the coconut flavored American cookie, the macaroon, I’m referring to the round, delicate and colorful disks, often spotted in rainbow colored hues, carefully and neatly displayed in some of the finest bakeries and cafes in the world. The French macaron, a meringue based confection and one of my favorite sweet bites. Ah, they are delicious. If you have the chance to try one, you should. Finely baked macarons are crispy yet chewy and perfectly melt in your mouth. The cookie itself it customarily almond based and fillings include buttercream, ganache, and jellies.

I couldn’t possibly write a confection blog without mentioning these refined sweet treats. Below is an easy recipe you can try at home!


Macaron Cookie Recipe

3 egg whites
6 Tbsp. superfine sugar
1 cup + 1 ½ tsp. of finely ground almonds
1 ½ cups confection sugar

Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form
Add superfine sugar and whisk for 5 minutes
Strain almonds and confection sugar over meringue until finished
Gently fold into the meringue

At this point, you may add a food coloring of your choice. For more than one color, divide meringue in separate bowls and add different food coloring as desired.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Gently spoon or pipe 1” disks of meringue onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Leave 2” between each cookie. Bake for 15 minutes then cool.


Macaron Filling

When it comes to filling, you are only limited by your imagination! You can fill with your favorite jam or jelly. Use ganache or peanut butter. A creamy hazelnut spread works, too. I’m going to share a basic butter crème recipe here for the filling. It’s easy to make, and the perfect filling for the macaron.

2 egg yolks
7 Tbsp. unsalted, soft butter
¼ C granulated sugar
3 ½ teaspoons of cream or milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat egg yolks in a small bowl. Add sugar and whisk until dissolved

Add the milk then place over low heat. Stir. Remove when thickened (like a custard)

Put a tablespoon of the rich vanilla buttercream on one macaron. Place second macaron on top, and press together. Enjoy!

These are melt in your mouth, easy to make macarons. You can try many of your own flavors, too. If you are adventurous, replace the almonds with pistachios. Or add lemon or orange extract to the meringue. Experiment, play with the flavors and taste combinations that you enjoy. Once you’ve made these successfully, you will want to make them again and again for parties or as hostess gifts. You could place them in a small clear gift box and wrap with a colorful ribbon. There are so many ways to make, and share these tasty French treasures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


Mix and Match Wedding Cake Ideas

Wedding cakes are as diverse as the individual. There are so many fantastic and delicious flavor combinations for your perfect cake. I’ve sorted them out by cake flavor choice, filling, and frosting options. See how many flavor combinations you come up with! These are just a few ideas. I’ve left off gluten free and vegan options, but know those exist out there, too and are as delicious and satisfying as the ideas below. Have fun with this list! I hope it helps guide you toward a taste combination both you and your guests will find memorable and unique.

Wedding Cake Flavors

Black Forest
German Chocolate
Red Velvet


Wedding Cake Fillings

Almond Cream
Apricot Jam
Bavarian Cream
Chocolate Cream
Chocolate Mousse
Coconut Cream
Dulce de leche
Flavored Whipped Cream
German Chocolate Coconut
Key Lime Mousse
Lemon Mousse
Leon Curd
Lime Curd
Mint Buttercream
Raspberry Jam
Seasonal Fruit
Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Mousse
Sweet Cream Cheese
Tiramisu/Mascarpone Cheese
Vanilla Buttercream
Whipped Cream


Wedding Cake Frostings

Chocolate Buttercream
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Flavored Whipped Cream
Mocha Buttercream
Raspberry Buttercream
Salted Caramel Buttercream
Strawberry Buttercream
Vanilla Buttercream
Whipped Cream

These are just a few ideas for wedding cakes and combinations of flavors. There are many others you may wish to consider such as orange liquor, a Bailey’s Irish Cream Filling, Kahlua, Amaretto and many others. Some couples shy away from liquor in their wedding cakes as it is not always pleasing to the guests. Ask your wedding cake designer if he or she thinks those ideas are acceptable. Some liquor is cooked off during the baking process, but fillings and frostings are not. Taste is important, so be sure you choose a flavor combination that sounds delicious. Each unique part of the cake should meld together in a seamless and delicious way. Always sample the flavors together to ensure they work and are pleasing to your palate. My wedding cake was simple: a vanilla based cake with vanilla buttercream. It was simple, but moist and delicious. Sometimes simple is best, and satisfies your guests rather than a complicated taste combination. It’s really up to you, as it’s your day. You should have the cake of your dreams! I hope you found this list helpful, as you start your journey toward your wedding day. Many Happy Returns!


The Latest Tasty Sweet -Toothed Craze: Cupcakes For All!

As a girl with a massive sweet tooth, I’m all about finding the latest and greatest confections close to home and abroad. I’m constantly searching for something to tempt me, although my waistline clearly says “No More!” Who am I to argue? I’ve noticed in my small corner of the world, a popular phenomenon surfacing in the confection world: Cupcakes! Oh yeah! From popular food television shows pitting cupcake bakers against their competition to the small local cupcake businesses that have popped up in my own city, the cupcake has finally arrived.

As a child, I remember baking with my Mom; carefully measuring all the ingredients and watching these mini cakes rise in the oven. Frosting was ready made, bought from the local market. On some occasions, we made our own frosting which was delicious and satisfying. But, never in my wildest dreams did I envision the cupcake becoming a special dessert, rising to an art form of delicious proportions. Here are some delicious combinations to consider when making cupcakes:

Love peanut butter? How about trying a peanut butter frosting and a chocolate cupcake? Two great tastes meant to be together.

Have a desire for almonds? How about a light almond flavored cupcake with a light whipped almond cloud frosting? Heaven on a plate!

Do you love coffee and chocolate? Try whipping up a batch of chocolate cupcakes and top with a rich espresso flavored frosting. Delicious!

Do you love breakfast treats? Try a chocolate chip based cupcake, topped with a maple- flavored frosting. It’s breakfast on the go!
Are you looking for a savory twist to your cupcake? Try chocolate-based cupcakes and top with a fresh whipped cream. Add sugar glazed bacon bits for sprinkles. Yum!

Do you love the S’mores flavors? How about baking a chocolate cupcake with marshmallow frosting and sprinkled graham cracker bits over the top? It’s a campfire treat that’s a crowd pleaser for adults and kids alike.
How about something simple that reminds you of summer? Try a corn muffin, topped with a vanilla frosting and fresh blueberries. It’s refreshing and light, more like a “fancy” muffin. It’s a cupcake without the guilt.

Are you in the mood for something romantic? How about red velvet cupcakes topped with a spicy cinnamon cream cheese frosting? Now, where’s my pitchfork?
Do you love gingerbread? I know I do! Try a gingerbread cupcake topped with a mango frosting. The taste combination is truly worth losing your head over!

Do you enjoy cheesecake but hate the heavy feeling after you eat it? Try a cream cheese cupcake with a cinnamon streusel topping. Add a piece of fruit for garnish such as a strawberry, raspberry or blueberry. It’s a tasty bite, but skips the large portion size! Perfecto!

The Italian in me screams out “I want something truly authentic! And Italian! ” Try rosemary and lemon cupcakes topped with a creamy chestnut frosting. Wow, it’s Italy on a plate. Place a fresh fig on the top and you might as well be sitting by the Mediterranean Sea.


Staying true to both my Italian and Irish heritages, I’ve decided to combine the best of both worlds: try pistachio flavored cupcakes! They will turn green when you bake them and top with a delicious Ricotta lemon frosting. It’s the best of both cultures brought together in a few bites.

These are just a few of my favorite flavor combinations. Try one or more today. Cupcakes are rising in popularity and sophistication, my friends! Be part of the new revolution!



Chocolate Truffles: Decadence in a Ball! You’ve Gotta Try This!

When I refer to truffles, I’m not talking about the special mushrooms deep in the ground detected by pig nostrils and used in savory cooking, although they are delicious! I’m talking about chocolate truffles: the real deal. And not just any chocolate truffle, but ones made from the finest ingredients. Did you know you can make these decadent lovelies in your own home? Oh yes, you can! But first let me tell you a bit about truffles:

They were invented in France

An apprentice accidentally poured hot cream over chocolate, forming a paste.
What a great “accident,” right?

Truffles got their name because they do bear resemblance to the black mushrooms I mentioned above
Truffles are a ball of ganache rolled in something, usually cocoa powder
Ganache simply means a hot whipping cream mixed with melted chocolate

Truffles may be round or square but they must contain ganache in the center to be called a “true” truffle
Ganache is used as a sauce, covering, filling, or icing


What truffles are NOT:

They don’t contain fruit in the center

They are not the cream filled center candies loosely called “truffles” in many places. It’s a marketing ploy and a farce!
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty-making truffles at home! Don’t be intimidated. It’s actually much easier than you imagine. Here’s a simple recipe:

¼ cup of whipping cream*
1 Tbsp. butter
½ tsp. sugar syrup*
4 oz. of chopped chocolate*

*Whipping cream should contain greater than 30% fat content

*Sugar syrup may be corn syrup or molasses. You may make your own, as I prefer. Boil 3 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water and cool
*Chocolate should contain greater than 50% cocoa for best flavor and quality



Put cream, butter and sugar syrup in a pan and stir until boiling and smooth

Remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate
Place in cool fridge for 15 minutes until smooth but stiff

Form 1 teaspoon sized balls and rechill until hardened
Chop a separate batch of 4 oz. of high quality chocolate

Melt the chocolate over heat until smooth
Remove cooled ganache balls from fridge and gently roll in melted chocolate, covering evenly

Roll in second coating of your choice! I recommend cocoa powder, powdered sugar, crushed pistachios, sea salt, orange, lemon or lime zest…it’s really up to you!

Once this is complete, allow truffles to harden for another 2 hours in a cool fridge. Remove and enjoy!

This is a very simple recipe that takes the guess work out of making high quality truffles. Serve these at a party and people will be impressed with your creativity and talent! To store truffles, you should keep them in a sealed container and store in the fridge. Take them out 30 minutes prior to serving. Homemade truffles will keep maximal flavor and freshness for about 7-10 days. Something tells me, they won’t last that long in your house!

nice girl eating chocolate

Can Chocolate Truly Be “Gourmet?”

The answer to this is 100% yes indeed! Chocolate, like other foods, have distinct flavors and textures. I like to equate chocolate quality like I rate red wine: there are some that are better than others! When you consider red wine, sommeliers talk about the type of grape, how it’s grown, the fermentation process, and the wine makers skill and capability. It’s the same with chocolate. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. Where they are grown, the type of bean they are, the way they are harvested and the chocolate maker each have a hand in how “gourmet” the chocolate is.

What does gourmet mean anyway? It is truly a subjective definition. Everyone’s tastes and palate sensitivities are unique. Not everyone will taste the same subtleties in chocolate like they would in red wine. Much like wine connoisseurs, time, experience and plenty of tasting round out a complex palate. I ought to know, I love chocolate!


Here are some nuances that separate a good chocolate and a great chocolate:

The better the cocoa bean, the better the chocolate

When is the bean picked? The ripeness of the bean matters
Are the shells removed prior to grinding? The less shell, the
smoother the chocolate
How the bean is treated: is it roasted? Ground?

How much cocoa butter is added to the chocolate?
Does the harvesting, fermenting and roasting take place in same spot? The less “middle man”, usually the higher the quality chocolate is produced

What is the % of cocoa in the chocolate? The higher the percentage, the more pure the chocolate is
Is the chocolate aged? Great chocolate is usually aged for months

How talented is the “chef?” A chocolate is only as good as the artesian behind it, much like a wine maker

What about inexpensive chocolate? I’m referring to the candy bars found in the grocery check out lane. Many of these are waxy and flavorless. They generally include many additives such as vegetable oils and artificial sweeteners. They don’t contain large amounts of cocoa beans nor cocoa butter. They contain more sugar and aren’t very beneficial for your overall health.


What About Dark Chocolate Versus Milk Chocolate?

About the only thing milk chocolate is better at is the amount of calcium in the chocolate. Other than that, dark chocolate is far superior to milk chocolate. Why? Let me share:

It has less fat

It contains half the amount of sugar
It contains more fiber

It is rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and other nutrients
It has much less sodium

It contains theobromine, which has been proven to decrease blood pressure

So there you have it, my friends. What makes some chocolate superior to other types of chocolate? You may find yourself shaking your head in disagreement. You may prefer the cheaper candy bar with the preservatives. You may like milk chocolate over dark chocolate. And that’s fine. Again, taste is a subjective experience. But I promise you this:

The more chocolate you taste, with higher concentrations of cocoa beans and less artificial flavors, you may be surprised just how much you appreciate the better chocolate! Cheers, friends.