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The Best Wedding Cake Alternatives to Serve at NYC Nuptials

By Emily Frost | May 7, 2014 7:13am
 These treats will wow your guests far more than traditional wedding cake. 
The Best Alternative Wedding Desserts
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WEST VILLAGE — In the city that created the donut/croissant hybrid, a plain vanilla wedding cake is considered vanilla. Couples are stepping out of the box and serving anything from crispy rice treats to pie in a trend that shows no signs of slowing.

At the same time, more bakeries and confectioners are opening across the city, driving up the hunger to make one's wedding special, unique and memorable — anything but cookie-cutter.

DNAinfo New York found the best confectioners for creating a sense of surprise and excitement when it's time to cut the cake. 

Treat House

Gourmet crispy rice treats are a fun throwback to childhood — and they're gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free, said the founders of Treat House, a relatively new sweet shop based on the Upper West Side.

The treats come in over-the-top flavors — bubble gum, apricot and Oreo cookie to name a few — and are $2 each. Couples contact the shop daily to order treats as an addition to the dessert table or as favors, Treat House co-founder Jennifer Russell said.

They're also increasingly asked to customize favors so that the treat looks like their invitation, Russell said.

The rice crispy shop has worked with Ceci wedding invitations to create new treat designs that coordinate with a couple's invitations, said Wendy Israel, the shop's executive pastry chef.

The shop gets at least a couple requests each month from rice crispy fanatics who want an entire cake built from individual treats, Russell said. 

Levain Bakery

The famous local bakery is known for its gigantic, moist cookies that are decadently sweet. They typically spark a line out the door on weekends. 

The mountainous cookies are often the star of the dessert table or take the place of a cake at New York City weddings, said a bakery representative. 

"Most couples who choose to have our cookies as a part of their wedding have a history with the bakery. Maybe they had their first date at Levain or they would always stop in after a stroll in Central Park," she said. 

Individually wrapped cookie favors, priced at $4 apiece, are also popular, but there are no bulk discounts, the bakery said. 

Dominique Ansel Bakery 

A year after its debut, Dominique Ansel Bakery's Cronut is still a hot commodity. The West Village bakery has persistent lines of locals and tourists desperate to get their hands on one of the 350 Cronuts made each day.

Competition for bulk orders is also fierce. But if you can brave the waitlist, serving Cronuts at your wedding will supply the ultimate wow factor, according to bakery representative Amy Ma. 

"[One couple] said it cleared the dance floor when the Cronuts came out and everyone went running," she said. 

So how do you get Cronuts at your wedding? You have to be extremely organized and persistent.  

"Large orders (50 or more) come in to us by email on the first day of each month at 12 a.m. sharp. We usually get hundreds of emails within 12:00 a.m. and 12:01 a.m. and we meet the requests as they come," Ma said. Because the bakery is small, production is limited, she said. Cronuts are $5 each.

The bakery also makes "religieuse," French cream puffs that are decorated to look like a bride and groom (or two brides or two grooms). They are $7 each and couples usually get one for each guest. The bakery only services about four to five weddings a season, so try to get on its list early. 


This NYC-based Swedish chocolate and coffee shop offers a wedding dessert option that's ideal for the edgier couple, or those looking to provide something unexpected for their guests.

At its chocolate factory in TriBeCa, FIKA makes lifelike chocolate skulls that can be given away as wedding favors, said Lena Khoury, the company's director of strategy. 

"We make them in solid chocolate, solid marshmallow, and can custom make any filling, if requested," Khoury said. 

The small skulls are $5 each, but if you're interested in having a skull as the main wedding dessert, a larger one will run between $50 and $200.

Macaron Parlour

Move over cupcake towers, the macaron tower is having its moment.

Simon Tung, co-founder and owner of Macaron Parlour, said towers of macarons are a great way to create a dramatic presentation while opting for something besides cake. 

The bakery's macaron tower, which costs $450, is cheaper than the average cost of a large wedding cake.

"It includes 200+ macarons and is a perfect cake replacement. [Couples] can choose any flavor we have on our website," Tung said. 

And the bakery's macaron flavors are all over the map.

"You'll have some 'play it safe' brides and grooms who will choose dark chocolate and our caramel fleur de sel for flavors. Then you'll have the 'throw all the rules out the window' couple who'll order our Cheetos and the candied bacon with maple cream cheese macarons," he said. 

Macaron Parlour also offers bulk discounts.   


Though technically a cake, Momofuku Milk Bar's celebration cakes are far from traditional. Rather than coating the whole cake, frosting seeps out from the layers, giving the cake a more rugged look. 

The flavors steal the show. Momofuku offers 13 cake flavor choices, including pineapple upside down, salted pretzel, mint cookies 'n cream, chocolate malt and apple pie. The cakes can cost anywhere between $400 and $975.

Couples can choose a three-, four- or six-tiered cake and mix and match from the variety of flavors. 

"Customers are also steering away from the traditional tiered cake and taking more of a deconstructed approach. They might order eight 10-inch cakes," said Zoe Kanan, the weddings and special orders manager.

Van Leeuwen

If you're interested in abandoning the dessert table altogether, Van Leeuwen artisanal ice cream will drive its truck to your wedding venue, the owners said. 

"The price depends on the date, location, etc., but we have done a lot of weddings and have a ton coming up this season," founder Laura O'Neill said.

Guests can enjoy earl grey tea ice cream or Ceylon cinnamon as well as more traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla — all made with premium ingredients.

And after all the waste that's likely involved in putting on a big affair, the cups and spoons made from renewable resources will feel like the icing on the nonexistent cake.