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Dessert party menu -- looking for feedback

I'm planning a champagne and dessert party in a couple of weeks. Hubby and I make all the desserts and serve up a couple of cases of chilled champagne to go with them. The trick is always to put together a group of desserts with sufficient variety and appeal, that two people can feasibly make over the few days leading up to the party.

I'd love some feedback on this menu so far:

decadent chocolate layer cake
caramel-pecan cheesecake
midnight rum balls (from AnneinMpls)
poached pears in spiced red wine
chocolate dipped palmiers
banana caramel tartlets
lemon curd tartlets
peanut butter fudge
brown-sugar pecan shortbread
pecan pie bars
buzz bars (thanks to Dommy for the recipe!)
fresh fruit plate with a couple of dips
apple-berry pie
rice crispies (these always disappear -- go figure)
mini sour cream coffee cakes
smarties (the Canadian kind. not homemade, but we always put them out for these parties)

We'll have somewhere between 20 and 40 people. Is there enough chocolate? Too much chocolate? I was originally going to do a chocolate mousse served in mini chocolate cups, but thought it might be too much. Same for good ol' chocolate chip cookies. I'm also considering cream puffs. Ugh -- too many choices!

Any suggestions? Items that can be made in advance are always a big plus!

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  1. A. Can I come?!?

    B. Do you have a recipe for the banana caramel tarlets?

    C. I don't think there's too much chocolate at all. Maybe something creamy and "light" is missing, like a panna cotta or something along that line. I feel like a broken record, because I always recommend this recipe, but it is amazing! (And I'm definitely a chocolate fiend, so that's saying a lot!) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/27939...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Katie Nell

      If you're in the Toronto area, heck yeah, come on over! :)

      For the banana caramel tartlets: Make or buy your favorite mini tart shells and your favorite caramel. Mix the caramel into some mascarpone cheese to taste (I like it barely sweet). Thinly slice a ripe banana and place a slice on the bottom of the tart shell, fill with the cheese mixture, top with another slice of banana and drizzle with a bit of caramel. Homemade everything is the best, but for an instant dessert for unexpected guests, store bought tart shells and caramel works just great.

      And thanks for the recipe rec. Maybe I can serve mini versions of the custard in a soup spoon, topped with a bit of sauce and a fresh berry.

    2. I love the idea of fresh fruit with different dips (maybe a vanilla creme anglaise, bittersweet chocolate fudge, white chocolate raspberry...). What about an entire dipping station with the fruit, shortbread cookies, maybe homemade marshmallows)

      It sounds like you have great variety and neither too much or too little chocolate.

      One recipe I would offer (if you are interested) would be my homemade ring dings. They are so much better than the Drakes version and people go nuts for them.

      I can't wait to hear the final results!

      2 Replies
      1. re: chocolate chick

        I'd love the recipe for your ring dings. There will be a few kids in the crowd and I imagine that would go over well.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Use the link below to make shallow cupcakes and freeze for a few hours. Slice off tops and invert so top becomes bottom. Slice each cupcake in half horizontally. Prepare filling (recipe follows) and pipe about 2 Tbs worth in each middle and cover with top of cupcake. Freeze again for 20 minutes and melt coating chocolate. With fork, dip each frozen cake into melted chocolate and let set. They will last at room temperature (well covered) for at least 5 days.

          http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

          creme filling: 2 sticks salted butter (softened
          ) 3 cups confectioners sugar
          1 conatiner fluff (I know, I know)

          With paddle attachment of stand mixer, mix butter and sugar on low speed until combine and then gradually increase speed until thoroughly combined. Bring speed to low again and add fluff. Combine well. If too thick, add a couple Tbs. of milk.

          Although these are time consuming, they are really worth it (if you use very good chocolate) and I promise the adults will be fighting over them too. Enjoy!

      2. I don't know if there's such a thing as too much chocolate. ;)

        I always love the soho glob cookies from Rosie's Bakery cookbook. http://www.jewish-food.org/recipes/so...

        A notible dessert missing is a cheesecake. Otherwise it seems like chocolate, caramels, fruits are well presented.

        Another thought is to do some homemade spiced nuts (some recipe has sugar/cinnamon spiced) as a sweet-savory munchies.

        Lastly, are you trying to do individual portion sized desserts? With the exception of the first cake and the pie, everything else seems to not require cutting or portioning. Actually previously for my son's school's bake sale I had cut pie dough with a small 4" diameter rice bowl and made individual pies (fold over the rounds and then crimp) as well. But they are pretty fragile that way.

        4 Replies
        1. re: notmartha

          I do have a caramel pecan cheesecake on the list, so that's ok. And yes, I'm trying to individually portioned desserts -- there are so many people that there is never enough room to sit down, so things that can be eaten standing up are always better. I love the idea of make individual pies instead of a big one, thanks!

          1. re: notmartha

            I made the Soho cookies this afternoon. Yum with a capital MMMMMMMMM.

            They are very, very similar to Martha Stewart's Outrageous Chocolate cookies.

            Outstanding! Thanks for the recipe. I didn't change much except that I used one full cup of pecans and no walnuts (I ran out!)

            Also very close to Maida Heatter's Chocolate Whoppers cookie recipe http://www.cookiemadness.net/2005/12/...

            1. re: luv2bake

              That recipe does seem similar! I think I got the Rosie's cookbook at least 15 years ago though.

              The blondie recipe in that book is also very good, as are the frostings...

              1. re: notmartha

                I have at least one of her books. I'm going to have to dig. That'll be my bedtime reading tonight. :)

          2. That sounds amazing--you'll be busy. I wouldn't add more sweets. I don't think it would add much to the whole thing since it looks well planned out. If you do want to add, I'd think something like a cheese plate to go along with the fruit would be nice, something to balance all the sweetness, or maybe some nuts--some flavored but not sweet flavored.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowser

              Yes, I always try to put some nuts out to offer a break from the sugar overload. I think a cheese plate is a great idea -- I'm definitely going to do that, thanks!

            2. How about an ice cream or sorbet? Something interesting like coconut sorbet or amaretto ice cream.

              P