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KILLER desserts for New Year's Eve

Here's the dliemma: I've been assigned to make 2 desserts for NYE for 6 adults, at least 4 of whom are full-blooded foodies. Even though I'm a pastry professional, I'm stymied! Since I don't want to spend all day and evening baking, I want to do something simple and/or make-ahead, but delicious. I generally believe that simple is best anyway...any ideas would be appreciated!!

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  1. Can't go wrong with creme brulee. I once did vanilla and chocolate and poured them side-by-side in the ramekins. These are simple but oh so good! You could add a tray of gourmet cookies (store bought or homemade) for a little crunch.

    1. Small Croquembouche. Always looks spectacular. Tastes great. Rich without being heavy. Make ahead.
      Also Gateau Sainte-Honoré. Same reasons.
      Neither requires last minute finishing.

      1. Bourbon Chocolate Cake with Caramel Whipped Cream frosting. I posted the recipe in another thread earlier and would be happy to point you to it if you like. It can be made 24 hours ahead and refrigerated and is very rich and delicious - always a hit when I make it.

        1. I made a trifle for Christmas, and it was a great hit. Definitely good for make-ahead - all that is needed at serving time is whipping the cream (or sabayon if you use that instead)

          The trifle I made had dried out poundcake for the cake layer -
          it was spread with rasp jam mixed with some grated (meyer) lemon rind and muscat wine and soaked in a mixture of the moscato, good sweet sherry and brandy. it was sprinkled with ground up amaretti and layered with pastry cream and fresh fruits (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and bananas - the latter tossed with some sugar, and lemon juice and rind. The strawbs were not sweet, they could have done with some maceration too. Oh, and some mandarin oranges, but they got panned by my foodie kid. We put some of the meyer lemon rind in the whipped cream too, which was a nice touch. Lots of fun to make and eat if you want to step back from you day job stuff a bit.

          1. I second the trifle idea. I've made an ammaretto roasted pear trifle twice now and it was a big hit both times. Here is a very funny column by marlena speiler with the recipe. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi... I used a home baked sponge cake in place of the ladyfingers, and a different recipe for the pastry cream (I think that pastry cream made with flour comes out gritty). It held perfectly in the fridge overnight, was beautiful and tasted deliscious.

            2 Replies
            1. re: peashoot

              Third on that Trifle idea, but make it a Ginger Trifle...substituting applesauce (homemade with ginger) for fruit, ginger-marmalade for jam, gingerbread for sponge/poundcake andf Ginger Wine (Stones Green Ginger or Robinson's work well) for Sherry. The custard remains custard as does the whipped cream and the entirety is decorated with crystalized ginger and sliced almonds. Looks gorgeous and when we served this at Christmas, both regular and gluten-free versions were totally devoured.

              1. re: LJS

                that sounds absolutely amazing though the thread is 5 years old.

            2. Vanilla Roasted Celementines-I made something like this once and served it warm with homemade vanilla ice cream and cookies. Everyone thought it was fabulous.

              1 Reply
              1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                what are these roasted clementines like? I am looking for simple fruit desserts like this that say "I am a dessert" but are not too rich for weekday desserts.

                but I'm having trouble picturing roasted citrus.

                what is it like?

              2. I recently made the s'more pie form gourmet mag's Nov issue. I loved it, I used dark chocolate so it would contrast nicely with the very sweet marshmallow top. The top is broiled and comes out crunchy like a fire roasted marshmallow should. It is not a visually stunning dessert but very satisfiying and easy (if you have a mixer for the marshmallow part)

                1. I always used to do a chocolate fondue, with fruits, pound cake, marshmallows, whatever, for dipping. It's a quick and simple dessert that can be made last minute (iirc, 2 bags of chocolate chips, 3 small cans condensed milk, a tsp or so vanilla, and you can add liqueur for flavor, if desired). I used my electric frying pan, since I never had a fondue pot. It's especially nice for dessert "grazing" after dinner, while sipping champagne and waiting for the new year to roll in.

                  1. Sacher Torte gets better with age. If you made one this afternoon it would be pretty darn good on Sunday.

                    1. I got this recipe from a friend over 20 years ago. It's quick and easy to make, not too heavy, looks great and tastes delicious. She just called it Chocolate Pizza:

                      3 eggs, separated
                      1⁄2 C. almond paste
                      1⁄2 C softened butter
                      1/3 C. flour
                      1 tsp baking powder
                      1⁄2 C. chocolate syrup
                      1 C. whipping cream

                      Grease & flour 12-inch tart pan. Mix almond paste, egg yolks and butter and beat till light. Add flour and baking powder and mix in. Add chocolate syrup. fold in beaten whites.

                      Spread in the tart pan and bake 12-15 minutes at 350. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

                      Drain juice from a 15oz can of peaches, reserving 1⁄4 cup. Whip cream with reserved juice and spread on cooled cake. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp chocolate syrup mixed with 2 Tbsp melted chocolate chips. Top with fruit.

                      Of course, you can vary the toppings - try raspberries and mix a little Chambord into the cream.

                      1. I second the trifle idea. I've been raving all over this board about Nigella's Chocolate-Cherry Trifle that was a huge hit at Christmas Eve. The link is here:


                        The chocolate custard in an of itself is "killer'!!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: wyf4lyf

                          I made this trifle twice. Little work and the result is very impressive!

                        2. I just made this double dark chocolate cheesecake from Bon Appetit for Christmas and it was a hit. Really simple to make (needs to be made ahead), pretty presentation. It's super rich, though, and you can only eat a small slice.


                          I used a water bath, though, and then kept the cheesecake in the oven, slighly open, for an hour after baking.

                          1. Cannoli wirth pre-made shells

                            Death by chocolate cake. I use 2 brownie recipes, and fill the layers with chocolate buttercream. It is iced with a chocolate ganache. It is less than 1 hour work, and everybody loves chocolate.

                            Making sense, I love your suggestion of a Gateau Sainte-Honoré. You either work in the business and/or have great taste.

                            cream puffs

                            1. Gingerbread with a lemon glaze -- doesn't seem to be fashionable these days, but everyone I serve it too seems quite happy to devour a piece.

                              1. bananas foster?
                                cherries jubilee?
                                crepes suzette?
                                flambe', chef as you know is always a good idea. how about making your own ice cream for the occassion, that would be personalized, original and impressive to your foodies and everyone else. also, very little prep and a la minute service-
                                that should help you out with everything else. bake a simple
                                cake ahead to go with any of them, the ice cream will be the
                                "bombe"! oooh, baked alaska?

                                1. I found a few recipes from Nigella that are easy to make and delicious:

                                  Cold Zabaglione

                                  Fruit Frizz

                                  I second the chocolate fondue idea. I think foodies like enjoy both the food AND the experience, and you can hardly go wrong with it. Instead of making one chocolate fondue, may be you can do two (such as dark and white chocolate) or even one with rum or liquer (it won't catch the flame with the low heat). Combine with good quality fruits / dried fruits or other food (I have tried cubes of raisin bread and it tasted great!) and some good wine and you are good to go!

                                  Let us know how it turns out!

                                  1. WOW--you guys are GREAT!! (though I knew I could depend on my fellow hounds). Lots of wonderful ideas--I'm loving the fondue, the creme brulee, the trifle and more...I'll be busy and I know everything will be delicious!!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Cakegirl

                                      a great thing to do if you go with creme brulee is to line each ramekin with a layer of chocolate (hardened)

                                    2. I have the same situation..don't want to fuss too much..making Julia Child's Poached pears and serving on a round of purchased pound cake surrounded by chocolate sauce that I will make. Very little prep and always delicious and impressive. Fondue as someone else suggested would have been my second vote.

                                      1. I'm giggling a little and smacking my forehead -- came looking for a recipe to wow the NYE party we're attending, after wowing them with a red-berry trifle last year...

                                        ...and seeing I might be better off just making another one this year!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Trifle...and pavlova - here's a link to a festive one (scroll down to it )

                                        2. I posted my Amaretto Truffle Brownie recipe on another thread, if you're interested. Can make it a day ahead, and it's incredibly rich and decadent.

                                          1. While all the ideas posted so far are great, I usually like to know what's for dinner before deciding on dessert. If the main is heavy, a lighter dessert is in order.

                                            If dinner is early and dessert is later, then I guess it doesn't matter.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Dee S

                                              Then there are those of use who decide on dessert and work backwards.

                                              1. re: Athena

                                                Amen to that, Athena! I suggest chocolate pots de creme. Very easy, and make a lovely presentation in individual ramekins. They'll give you a chocolate jolt you'll never forget!
                                                I also make a citrus salad with ginger yogurt. It's a great palate cleanser, and goes well with chocolate. Hehe, doesn't everything?
                                                Here's the citrus salad link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                Cakegirl, what is yr specialty?

                                              1. Dark chocolate tart with cranberry topping and whipped cream. Total make-ahead and definite dazzler. Easy. I made it for Thanksgiving, using good health gourmet's oatmeal crust and the combination of the three elements-- dark chocolate, tart cranberry (spooned atop the slice per diner's preference), and the toasty oatmeal -- is divine. Just the skinniest sliver will satisfy, and this would definitely please a foodie (it wow-ed a few when I made it, including me LOL). For the tart, I used a blue ribbon epicurious recipe.