Weeknight Entertaining - A Dessert Party|
by Linda Larsen
Linda Larsen shares her simple plan for a no-fuss dessert party, along with ten scrumtious recipes for desserts like Chocolate Cream Meringue, Lemon Truffle Pie, Strawberry Almond Torte, and Swedish Oatmeal Cookies.
Now this is the ultimate in outrageous indulgence. A dessert party where the food is rich, creamy, crunchy, sweet, chocolatey, tart, dense, light, and all absolutely delicious. These parties used to be popular in the days before we were all worried about cholesterol counts and HDL/LDL ratios. For one day, why not resurrect it? Everything is made ahead, the guests come a little later in the evening after unwinding from work, and the sole purpose of the evening is fun and decadence. Make sure you specify on your invitation that desserts only are going to be served. Your guests need to eat a good dinner before this gathering!
I had a hard time choosing desserts for this column. I browsed through my notebook of recipes and ended up with sixty! After severe editing, these ten are some of my favorites. Feel free to add your own favorites, try one or two of my choices, supplement the selection with wonderful bakery treats, or ask your guests to bring their own specialties. Now there's another good idea - a potluck dessert party.
Display is everything for this party. Make your table as pretty as possible. Thin china, delicate goblets, your best cutlery, sparkly glass and shiny silver trays and an elegant tablecloth set the stage. As with the appetizer party, try to vary the height of the serving trays. I have two wonderful Fenton milk glass cake plates with ruffled clear edges that I always use when offering desserts. Or try stacking different sizes of pedestal plates or trays, decreasing in size toward the top, for a really spectacular presentation. Flowers and candles add to the ambience. Make sure you have enough plates, forks and serving pieces, as well as lots of thick napkins. Coffee, sparkling water, and some light wines or champagne are wonderful accompaniments.
I feel it's important to offer fresh fruit as well as all these scrumptious desserts. In late summer, the best choices are peaches, nectarines, mangoes, some crisp apples, grapes, and late raspberries. Arrange each type of fruit on a separate platter, heaping them high to signify abundance, and arrange them between the colorful desserts.
Make sure you think about varying texture, flavor, color, and even temperature when choosing your desserts (the Apple Peach pie, warm from the oven, is fabulous). I believe in having one or two cakes, a few pies, and some choices in cookies or bars so guests can sit down with a small plate and fork, or just browse around the table, picking some grapes or cookies and munching as they decide what to try next.
Just for one night, throw diet and caution to the winds and really enjoy yourself. I like to tell my guests there's one rule with this party - no groaning about calories and diet! Act like little kids and eat and savor every bite.
Apple Peach Pie
Chocolate Cream Meringue
Chocolate Silk Pecan Pie
Lemon Platinum Cake
Lemon Truffle Pie
Pecan Pie Squares
Raspberry Walnut Torte
Strawberry Almond Torte
Sugar Crusted Meltaways
Swedish Oatmeal Cookies
Linda Larsen is a freelance Home Economist with a degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota and a degree from St. Olaf College. She has been on the Pillsbury Bake-Off staff since 1987, and was in charge of Internet Recipe Search in 2000. Linda has developed recipes for Pillsbury and Malt-O-Meal, presented food to taste panels, held cooking seminars, and owned her own catering business "The Perfect Occasion". She loves to cook and entertain, write about food, talk about it, plan parties, read cookbooks and develop recipes. She has a cookbook collection of at least 1000 books and reads them as though they were novels.
Linda's first meal was a Mother's Day dinner from the Betty Crocker Children's cookbook, prepared when she was 11. Since then she has hosted wedding and baby showers, birthday parties, business dinners and cocktail parties, and wonderful simple meals for friends. Join her and learn simple and elegant ways to entertain your family and friends during the week.
Linda is also the Home and Décor host for Bella Online. Make sure to visit her excellent site for design tips, articles, links, and recommendations relating to home décor.
She is also the new About.com guide for Busy Cooks.
She is also the new About.com guide for Busy Cooks. Linda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.