The Recipe for a Beautiful, Delicious Dessert Table

A Guinness World Record-holding pastry chef shares his scrumptious secrets.

The Recipe for a Beautiful, Delicious Dessert Table

Photo: Cooper Carras Photography

It's the trend that thrills guests the most: dessert tables! No longer content to serve only cake as their dessert, couples are now offering miniature and bite-sized versions of their favorite sweets on an elegantly decorated table. Love cookies, tarts, and mousse? Serve them all! If you need a little inspiration, click through the slideshow above to see dessert tables dreamed up by real brides and grooms.

Pastry chef Alain Roby knows a thing or two about whipping up desserts that are as beautiful as they are delicious. Roby holds three Guinness World Records for his towering sugar creations and designs wedding cakes, chocolates, and desserts at his shop, All Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva, Illinois.

We caught up with Roby to discover his secrets to a gorgeous dessert table, and to uncover what's trending in the pastry world today. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll definitely want to keep reading!

Why do you think couples are doing dessert tables now, instead of just cake?
"When I speak with my clients, they are choosing to do a dessert table because they want to be able to offer more of a selection to their guests. A bigger variety gives a new experience to the guest. The cake is one thing, but when you have a sweet table you add a 'wow' factor to the event. This isn’t only seen in desserts, but weddings [in general] are now getting more creative with flowers, music, table settings, etc. Brides and grooms are now going much higher in quality on everything."

What desserts do you love to serve at weddings?
"I love to serve a variety – from classic crème brûlée, tiramisu, etc., but also chocolate, olive oil, and sea salt desserts. I like to use herbs to give a little exotic flavor in my desserts [and think] out of the box."

What new trends are you seeing in desserts?
"I see a trend in couples asking for spices, like curry, chili powder, etc. We see this in our truffles that we serve at weddings. When I propose more mainstream flavors to my clients like strawberry and raspberry, they ask for the more unique spices. Couples are much more bold in trying new flavors."

What desserts are pastry chefs experimenting with and creating these days?
"Honestly, I would say in the past, chefs would follow trends like crème puffs, crème brûlées, and classic cakes, and everyone would make the same type of dessert. The creativity of chefs has really exploded through new shows on TV and features in magazines. I think this has really boosted creativity for pastry chefs. Everyone has their own style and pastry chefs are trying to find a niche by doing things differently. The variety and creativity is really out there. You can see just about anything now."

Any desserts people love but you're ready to see go away?
"Cupcakes. A cupcake is great if it’s moist and has a good, fresh filling and buttercream that is fluffy, but most are dry, greasy, and have fatty, greasy toppings. This has to go! It’s like a fly – it keeps coming back."

How do you make a dessert table look beautiful? What are some fun ways to display and serve desserts?
"Simplicity. Use the same color dishes, pastels and very light colors, and not too many props. The way to set up a beautiful dessert table: less is more; high and low [focal points], a centerpiece of fresh, beautiful flowers and a chocolate or sugar piece; elegant; not overpowering."  

What mistakes do people make with their dessert tables?

What's your best advice to brides and grooms doing a dessert table? 
"First find a reputable chef or bakery. Check the reviews and biography of the chef. Work with the chef, but trust their knowledge and experience on presentation and also quality and quantity. Sometimes people don’t order enough, even if the chef makes a recommendation for more. Trust your professional. Nothing is worse for a wedding than running out. If you do something, do it right."