When we sit down with couples for a menu planning meeting, a highlight is often choosing the wedding reception canapés. There is something very appealing about creating mini versions of dishes we love, especially when they’re beautifully presented. But how do you decide what canapés to offer when choosing from a long list? And what makes a successful canapé in the first place?
What makes a good canapé? When developing new canapés for our Surrey wedding catering, the first priority is that they are bite-sized and easily eaten in one bite. If you are already juggling a drink and a bag, you probably don’t want your precious hand real estate taken up by a giant canapé! It’s also not exactly ideal for socialising during a reception, as you find yourself repeatedly pausing in conversation to finish it!
With this in mind, we always want our canapés to pack a punch in both appearance and taste - after all, they only have one bite to make an impression! They therefore need to be perfectly seasoned, have a good depth of flavour, as well as being beautifully presented. A good example of this is our tuna tartare canapé, one of our most popular over the last year. While it may look deceptively simple, these take time to prep (especially when making over 200 of them!), as each component is carefully added in order to build its flavour profile.
First it starts with the base, which in this case is our rice crackers, onto this goes a small piping of our homemade wasabi mayo for an instant hit of spice. We then carefully cut our sushi grade tuna into small dice, marinade it with fresh ginger, cucumber and other spices (a Tandem secret!) and add a small dollop onto the wasabi mayo. To finish we add a strip of sushi ginger, a sprinkle of furikake seasoning (a blend of umami-rich dried seaweed) and coriander. This process may be time consuming, but it is worth it in order to create a perfectly balanced, delicious canapé that is sure to make an impact. Finally, canapés should ideally be mess-free, no one wants grease on their new dress or suit, especially when photos are in progress. We therefore use a selection of canapé bases (homemade bruschetta, brioche, crackers to name a few) as well as cocktail sticks, spoons and shot glasses for soups. Even with these additions some canapés will inevitably leave crumbs (mac and cheese bites, we’re looking at you!), which is why our team always have cocktail napkins available when circulating canapé trays. Things to consider when choosing canapés The canapé selection is a good opportunity to choose dishes that you love but some guests may be unfamiliar with, especially if you have already opted for a more crowd pleasing wedding breakfast menu to follow the drinks reception. You may, for example, love shellfish, but worry that not all your guests eat it, or perhaps there’s a more exotic dish that some guests may not have tried before. By choosing a varied selection you can include these favourite dishes without worrying.
We find that guests enjoy seeing dishes that have a personal significance to the married couple and are we are often asked to recreate favourite dishes from first dates, their childhood or background. Recent examples include mini shots of laksa (spicy noodle soup) for a Malaysian groom and cheese fondue for a couple that met on the ski slopes. While we are very proud of our canapé selection and feel it offers a fantastic choice, we also enjoy the challenge of developing bespoke, off- menu canapés when asked.
Although we encourage our couples to choose their favourites, it's always important to consider your guests dietary requirements when deciding your selection. Conscious of the growing number of vegetarians and vegans at our weddings, we have a number of options to choose from and recommend choosing at least one so no one goes hungry! We have catered entire vegan weddings on a few occasions, and strongly feel that vegan and vegetarian canapés should be just as exciting and delicious as our other options. The same applies for other dietary requirements, such as dairy-free and coeliac and wherever possible we adapt our canapés to make them suitable for guests with dietary requirements.
Lastly, it is worth taking into account the season when deciding the canapé menu. A Vietnamese summer roll or salmon ceviche is delicious anytime of year, but something warming like our mini Yorkshire puddings with rare roast beef and horseradish or mac and cheese cups can really hit the spot on a cold winter's day.
You have your list, you're happy with your choices - and we never underestimate the importance of circulating the canapés to wherever there are hungry guests and to ensure a plentiful and constant supply throughout the wedding reception.