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Making dessert for a "non-dessert" crowd

We are going to a party this weekend. Most of the people attending are not dessert lovers, but I was asked to bring dessert. Suggestions, please...

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  1. what kind of crazy people don't like dessert?

    cheese and fruit can be a nice simple dessert. I like soft cheeses with berries or pears, but almost anything could work. Candied or spiced nuts (bought or home made) also go nicely with a fruit and cheese platter.

    If you want something a little bit more elegant, you could stuff figs with goat cheese and candided pecans or walnuts.

    or since it stone fruit season, you can roast some peaches or nectarines with honey and butter and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

    1. I think it would help if you knew what they like instead of dessert, why they don't like dessert, and/or what else is being served.

      For example, people who don't like desserts because they're too sweet might like cheese instead, whereas people who don't "like" dessert because they're dieting might want something that looks like a traditional dessert but with less fat. People who don't like dessert because they've already been fed way too much food might like a refreshing fruit plate. On the other hand, if they're just bored with the usual desserts you might get away with bringing something very exotic (not a cake, cookie, pie, etc.)

      1. A pretty platter of fruits, cheeses, nuts, and something small, decadent and chocolate like truffles should please everyone.

        1. i often make dessert for a "non-dessert" crowd, because (a) baking is what i do - just can't help myself, and (b) notwithstanding what my friends may think, a meal just isn't complete without dessert. i don't know how fancy your party is, but i find that what goes over best with this crowd is bite (or maybe 2 or 3 bites) -sized finger foods, like mini-cupcakes, lemon squares, pecan pie squares or super-chocolatey brownies cut extra small, mini fruit tarts, etc., as opposed to something that requires a plate and a fork and a commitment to eating a full-sized serving. then i add some fruit, for color and contrast and just in case someone really truly doesn't eat sweets.

          1. A few bottles of port :)

            Baked apples.

            Grilled fruit kebabs.

            Petit fours.

            A simple trifle with not too sweetened cream in it.

            Even angel food cake with fruit is light and not too "desserty."

            1. If there's a good bakery nearby, pick up a couple dozen cookies that aren't too sweet, some dessert wine and a good gelato or ice cream. Maybe just a bottle of liqueur to drizzle over ice cream might work too?

              1. My mom used to do scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with Curacao or creme de menthe, with a mini Cadbury Flake stuck on top: the dessert lovers liked the ice cream, and the boozers like the booze. Everyone was happy.

                1. I think fruit is the winning theme. Maybe a fruit tart? Lemon bars?

                  1. You had mentioned that most of the people are not dessert lovers, but this also implies there are some that enjoy desserts. Since you have been asked to bring a dessert, I say do it up. The dessert haters shouldn't be the target, it should be the ones who want dessert. They'll love you for bringing it and you may even convert some of the haters.

                    My wife usually makes a chocolate triffle that is the hit of any party. It's incredibly easy to make, looks great, and taste delicious. First get a glass triffle dish and then basically layer it. It's a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of chocolate pudding, a layer of whipped cream, a layer of crushed Heath bar candy (or any toffee candy). Repeat until you get to the top of the dish. Optionally drizzle some liquor on top (like Gran Marnier, Rum, Kahlua, Baileys, or whatever you are in the mood for).

                    BTW, I too am also curious as to why they hate dessert.

                    1. Thank you everyone for your ideas. The reason most of them are non-dessert eaters is because most of these guests (some of them are very good friends) are beautiful, skinny people who would rather spend their calories at a party on a couple of martinis or cosmos.

                      However, for the others I think a fresh berry trifle with vanilla pastry cream and homemade sour cream pound cake will be a good choice and a petit fours platter (thanks Emme and Cookie Monster) with some truffles, my homemade mallowmars and chocolate dipped strawberries sounds like what I am leaning towards.

                      Although I also think a cheese/fruit plate is a great idea (Terrie H. and Shivani), I am a baker and chocolatier by nature and can't bring myself to assembling that. But maybe the spiced nuts. There is a wonderful recipe from Union Square Cafe in NYC that makes the most wonderful sweet/spicy mixed nuts. You'll never go back to any plain nut after those.

                      Thanks again for your responses. All very helpful!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chocolate chick

                        I heartily second the USC bar nuts recipe - I give them out at Christmas to friends with the recipe attached and it never fails - every single person comes back to tell me it was the best recipe for nuts they've ever tasted!

                        Good call!

                      2. Sounds good!

                        I am officially someone who does not generally like dessert. Just didn't grow up eating it and would mostly rather spend the calories on savory items. That being said, I recently had the most fantastic pavlova at Joel restaurant here in Atlanta and I can't stop thinking about it. I think the key is not TOO sweet. The berries should do the trick.

                        Can you please link to (or paraphrase) the recipe for the Union Square Cafe nuts? I used to have a good, simple spiced sweet/savory nut recipe butI can't find it. Even though it was simple, I haven't been able to recreate it. I think I am leaving out some important ingredient...


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LizATL

                          I happen to have it saved on my computer!

                          The Union Square Café Bar Nuts
                          (won the New York Press award for the "best bar nuts" in New York)
                          1 1/4 pounds assorted unsalted nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and natural almonds
                          1/2 teaspoon cayenne
                          2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
                          2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
                          2 teaspoons coarse salt
                          1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a baking sheet spread nuts and toast in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes. White nuts are toasting, in a large bowl toss together all remaining ingredients. Toss nuts with rosemary mixture and serve warm. Makes about 4 cups.


                        2. Bring a fruit salad or a sorbet.

                          1. I imagine this is too late for you, but I'm posting it anyway. I recently went to a wedding in a microtown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was in a backyard with a somewhat potluck-ish grill-a-thon after.

                            I made banana ice cream, cantaloupe ice, and grapefruit ice. I was inspired to make the grapefruit ice because the bride does not particularly like sweet dishes. It was quite tart and fairly bitter. I loved it and got two requests for the recipe.

                            4 grapefruit, juiced with some pulp (We were staying in a nice home of a non-cook and a barbaric kitchen, so I had to press the grapefruit through a metal colander! Some pulp got through and I didn't remove it. My recollection is that we ended up with about 2-1/2 cups grapefruit juice and pulp.)
                            Grated zest from one of the grapefruit
                            1-1/2 cups sugar
                            1 cup water
                            1 tbsp (or so) vodka

                            Combine sugar, water and grated zest. Bring to a boil and let cool. Add 1 cup of sugar syrup to the grapefruit juice/pulp. Taste and add more if you want. We ended up going with 1-1/4 cups syrup. Chill. Add the vodka and freeze in an ice cream maker.

                            For the cantaloupe ice, we pureed 3 cantaloupe (again through the colander!) and added 6 tbsp sugar and chilled. I believe we had about 1/2 gallon of mix. Just before freezing, we added about 1 tbsp vodka, 1 tbsp Chambord, 1/2 capful vanilla extract. The flavor was intensely cantaloupey. A sullen 11-year-old who really likes cantaloupe was reported by his mother to have approved heartily.

                            The friend I did this with suggested adding the Chambord (she's a true believer) and the vanilla, which she said would help bring out the cantaloupe flavor. She appears to have been right.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Timowitz

                              Thank you. Although it is too late for the party we attended last night, I will have plenty of other occasions to use those wonderful sounding recipes! Cantaloupe and chambord sound like a real exotic paring!

                            2. Oops, I know it's late, but I wanted to chime in!

                              I am also one of those people that don't really care for dessert. This is because I like savoury or salty stuff better than I do sweet. Also, dessert can sometimes be heavy and if I like savoury, I want to get full on that. From the above suggestions I would vote for fruit, cheese, or refreshing fruit sorbets or a combination of those offerings. You could make refreshing citrus sorbets with mint garnishes and bring some fruit salad or you could bring a cheese and fruit plate. I like tart things. A citrus sorbet is nice, light and clean. If people don't like bitter (which I love now), lemon is nice.