Chocolate chip cookies can be dull. Muffins are “been there, done that.” But, no meeting is complete without a sweet treat. We at the AAA Four-Diamond Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee strive to come up with creative ways to give these sweet treats new life. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:
Add a pop of color. From colorful macarons to layered shooters, adding bright colors can reinvigorate a plain food spread. Beyond engaging guests’ sense of smell, colorful desserts capture their attention. One of the best parts about using color is that you can be creative with it. Think about extending your company colors into the desserts, or even your favorite sports team for a sports-themed display (Green Bay Packer green and gold, anyone?).
Twist the classics. There are those that desire the next best food trend, and there are those that savor the traditional. To accommodate both at your next meeting, twist the classics. A slice of cherry-pie, while delicious in all the right ways, takes on new life when eaten out of a mason jar, for instance. Or, add some crunch to a bite-sized éclair to create a nice contrast in texture. The dessert becomes something more than just a sweet treat to eat; it becomes something to admire.
During the cooler weather, one of my favorite techniques is to twist the classic hot chocolate bar with creative flavors. This past holiday season, The Pfister Hotel held a Polar Express event with the hotel’s Narrator in Residence. While guests listened to her read the classic book, they also enjoyed a uniquely flavored mug of hot cocoa. Guest could choose a mug of traditional milk chocolate cocoa, white chocolate peppermint cocoa or caramel popcorn cocoa. All featured toppings perfectly matched for the corresponding flavor.
Make a perfect pair. In my role as executive pastry chef at The Pfister, I challenge myself and my team to think beyond the dessert or pastry. Pairing desserts with cocktails, for instance, encourages guests to eat and drink a little more and try something new and inventive. At The Pfister, we have worked with our beverage and meetings team to create signature cocktails that pair with signature desserts for a great end to a meeting. In the summer, we have paired strawberry lemonade with a lemon dessert accented by a strawberry garnish for a delicate treat during a Saturday morning brunch. Or, in the fall, we have paired an apple crisp shooter with a delicious caramel apple martini.
In all of these ideas, two themes hold true across the board. First, think beyond the cookie tray. An unconventional dessert station can be a standout element of your next meeting. Second, you can never go wrong with dessert. No meeting is complete without a sweet treat.
About Travis Martinez
Travis Martinez is Executive Pastry Chef at the historic AAA Four-Diamond Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, which is owned and managed by Marcus® Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel management company. Martinez has more than 10 years of pastry and baking experience working at top luxury properties and casinos throughout the United States. He was also a finalist for the Food Network’s season 1 of “Cake Wars: Christmas.” For more information on Martinez and the Pfister Hotel, please visit: www.pfisterhotel.com and follow the hotel on Facebook and Twitter (@PfisterHotel).