Designing a delicious dessert station – tips and tricks from the experts

Nothing pleases a crowd more than a well-designed dessert station. All of those tempting treats laid out for the taking – pure heaven for those with a sweet tooth!
A dessert station is a great way to end an event. Whether it is a corporate function or wedding, cocktail party or dinner or an event for 30 or 300, a dessert buffet is a guaranteed winner. Desserts are visually appealing, we all love the sweet stuff and by having a station, as opposed to a plated dessert, there is always the possibility of seconds and maybe even thirds…
Getting it right, however, is not always easy and you need to consider both menu choice and your display carefully. Cass Wallace from Violets and Vinegar says “when we set up a dessert table for our clients, we have two things in mind: design and deliciousness”.
Let’s start with deliciousness! Quality desserts are a must and it always helps to bring in the professionals. Choosing the right combination of flavours and variety of desserts that complement each other is a skill. Let the professionals do their thing- they have the expertise and experience to help you create the perfect menu.

Cass recommends having “no less than five individual desserts, as this allows for a variety of flavours. The perfect table contains individual desserts with a distinct focus on chocolate, citrus, berry, cream, fruit and savoury”.
Marnie Fletcher from ARIA Catering recommends a similar combination: “we generally recommend a selection of two whole cakes and at least three varieties of canapé-sized desserts, plus two or so accompaniments such as strawberries or cream”.
Cass mentioned that more of their clients are now also choosing to include cheese on their dessert stations, accompanied by home made lavosh and seasonal fruits - “sweet and savoury at the end of a delicious meal; why not have the best of both worlds?”, she muses.
Quantity is also important. Marnie’s biggest tip? “Abundance, you need to make the station look full and inviting”, she says.

Another important tip is to keep the desserts to small individual serving sizes. People want to be able to take a few options - so make it easy for them to just pop it in their mouth and come back for more. 

The size of the dessert portions also assists with the display and styling. By allocating several smaller portions per person, rather than one larger piece, you will be able to showcase your desserts and get creative. There will be more textures and colours visible and this will help with the overall appearance of the table.   

Dessert station
Images from Violets and Vinegar
Miccal Cummins, owner and master food stylist from Gastronomy, says “the key to styling dessert stations is varying height. By raising elements you let your guests see all the treats at once and fill their frame of view for maximum impact.  Cake towers and stands, gumball machines, apothecary or large mason jars are all great for this”.
Cass adds that “layering your station is also practical as it allows guests to scan the multitude of desserts and easily access them”. 
When styling the station, let the desserts and the serving ware do most of the work. Marnie also recommends using “colour or produce that relates back to the items you are serving, for example if there is chocolate in the desserts use large blocks of chocolate in your styling”.
Dessert stations will also often give you some scope to get creative with an event theme. For example, at a recent luxury travel event, ARIA Catering used large travel cases as the base for their delicious array of dessert canapés. Guests could walk around the installation and it became a focal point for the evening- see below, you can almost hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’!  
Luxury dessert station

Keen to treat your guests to something special at the end of your next event? Then get in touch with our fabulous caterers – they would love to help you design the ultimate dessert station!

Header image: ARIA Catering