Nostalgic Sweets

New Trends in Wedding Desserts

March 15, 2016
Words by John Roark
Photos courtesy of The Garland

The Garland is one of North Hollywood’s hippest urban retreats. Built in 1972 for film and TV actress Beverly Garland by her husband, the property has been lovingly transformed by Garland’s youngest son, James Crank. A multimillion-dollar renovation has brought dazzling results – and ardent fans from near and far.

The Garland also features the neighborhood’s most distinctive dining. Helmed by Executive Chef Chris Turano, The Front Yard serves up fresh, approachable fare true to the diverse spirit of Los Angeles.

We chatted with Chef Chris about alternatives to traditional wedding cakes and the trends he sees in one of the world’s most famous cities.

DID: How can couples go beyond the traditional multi-tier cake and celebrate with a spectacular alternative?

CC: We offer many alternatives to a traditional wedding cake. Cupcakes are the usual go-to for someone who doesn’t want the traditional wedding cake, but we also have done a churros display with chocolate, dulce de leche and fruit dipping sauces.   

What The Garland has that is really unique is our ice cream cart. We fill it with a whole bunch of house-made ice cream sandwiches, popsicles and ice creams. We also put in a couple of novelty ice creams like push pops for the nostalgic guests. When we wheel it out and start pulling the items from the ice chest, it really brings that childhood memory of the ice cream truck to life.

DID: What wedding dessert trends do you see? Anything particularly trending in California?

CC: I started my career in pastry and I know that my palate is burned out on overly sweet desserts. One dessert trend that is becoming more and more welcome is a lot more savory balancing with the sweet desserts. California is hyper-seasonal because of the temperate climate and the relatively close distance from “farm-to-table.”

The trends that I see in California, besides the seasonality, are culture-based. You see a lot of eastern influence and those local populations bring their own ingredients and spices. Having all of these ethnic restaurants and stores introduces creativity into the industry. 

One particular spice that goes well with desserts is cardamom, in particular, green cardamom. Cardamom is native to the Middle East, North Africa and Scandinavia, and comes in three varieties: green, black and Madagascar. Toasted ground cardamom is great with apples, orange and lavender. 

DID: What unusual flavors or combinations of flavors are your favorites?

CC: I am always looking for a mix of sweet, savory and bitterness. Bitterness is an often overlooked flavor profile, but when used correctly it is a very effective palate-cleanser. Adding zest from citrus always adds a bit of bitterness to any dish and adding some of the same juice helps round out the dish with sour flavors. Also, charring food adds a layer of bitterness that helps anchor dishes that have high water content. I have made charred mint syrup to accent pastries, the charr lingers on the palate throughout the release of water content in a dish, keeping the flavors on the tongue.

DID: If you were creating a cake or dessert for your own wedding, what would it be?

CC: My wife Mindy and I had a beautiful cake for our wedding five years ago that I wouldn’t change if I could. My childhood favorite is cannoli cake; it’s a white or yellow cake brushed with rum simple syrup and layered between a cannoli filling of ricotta, chocolate and cinnamon.

If I were to get married for a third time (my wife and I just had Elvis renew our vows this summer), I would go with our ice cream cart with macaroons. Or if it was doable, s’mores kits for the individual tables with little fire pits so the tables could have an interactive dessert. But, with all of the hair spray, that might be a bad idea!

DID: When it comes to desserts, what is your own guilty pleasure?

CC: Chocolate. I am really into strong, single-origin chocolates from Venezuela. Also, Valrhona has a chocolate called “Caramelia” that is a blend of milk chocolate with caramel. Besides chocolate, I am a sucker for any really good fruit. I love a good plum or any stone fruit for that matter.

DID: When it comes to dessert, what advice would you give to couples to create a truly memorable wedding?

CC: Go with what you like! Don’t let the day get out of control trying to please everybody. Go with your gut and stick to what makes you happy!

Just a stone’s throw from many of Hollywood’s most popular attractions, but offering tranquil seclusion and privacy, The Garland’s newest event venue is Beverly Park, a rustic urban oasis among towering sycamore trees. For more information visit

Wyndham Alltra

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