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Jan 29, 2007 11:08 AM

Dessert party report

Just wanted to report back on our champagne and dessert party this past weekend. Despite a chilly, snowy evening in Toronto, we had a good turnout -- about 35 people (45 RSVPed). Our final dessert menu was as follows:

Banana-Caramel Tarts
Chocolate Layer Cake (2 of them)
Mascarpone Cheesecake
Chocolate Kahlua Balls (variation on the midnight rum balls much discussed here)
Poached Pears in Spiced Wine w/Crème Anglaise
Lemon Curd Tarts
Peanut Butter Fudge
Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pecan Toffee Bars
Supernatural Brownies
Fresh Fruit w/crème fraiche & brown sugar and a chocolate sauce
Apple-Dried Cherry Pie (2 of them)
Rice Crispy Treats (because we always have to have those)
Mini Sour Cream Coffee Cakes
Gianduia Cups
Cheese Plate w/blue cheese, a sharp aged cheddar, edam and a goat cheese brie

And scattered around the house were martini glasses of spiced nuts, chocolate smarties, and cashews.

The bite-sized items were definitely the "go to" items, I think for the convenience factor. Though once a couple of people started in on the chocolate cake, that went quickly. The most popular were probably the gianduia cups, brownies, shortbread, lemon curd tarts, banana caramel tarts and surprisingly, the poached pears. The cheesecake was fantastic (epi recipe), but sadly only a few people tried it (though they raved about it). I think the thought of a piece of rich cheesecake was a bit overwhelming with everything else on the table. The cheese plate was completely wiped out -- people definitely appreciated the savoury break in the midst of all the sweets.

I was really disappointed with the chocolate chip cookies, which I've made many times before. But this time, I froze the dough and baked them from frozen on the day of the party. The cookies didn't flatten out enough for my liking, which resulted in me overbaking and losing the texture that I love. Ah well.

We had two cases of the Domaine Carneros 2002 Brut, which was perfect with the desserts. Our only problem was waay too much food! But we had carry out containers that we gave to each of our guests as they were leaving so that they could take some of the goodies home with them.

All in all, a long week of baking with my hubby, but well worth it! Thanks to everyone for their menu suggestions. I definitely made a couple of great adjustments because of them.

Here are a few photos of the dessert table. An early guest had already started sampling before I remembered to pull out the camera!

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  1. I'm so glad that everything turned out so well for you; it sounds like your event was a major success! You've definitely been a great dessert help to me in the past (toffee cake) so I'm glad that you received the same support from fellow CHers!

      1. re: Candy

        BTW, Candy -- thanks for the shortbread recipe and your notes. I ended up making them with rice flour and they turned out beautifully. I made a log and just sliced 1/2 inch cookies. They turned out to be one of the surprise hits of the evening -- every time someone tried one (and they look rather innocuous, even boring), they went "ooh! these are soooo good!"

      2. That looks amazing. Glad it all worked out so well.

        1. Wow, very impressive. Beautiful presentation! Are most of the recipes in the previous link? I would love the recipes for the banana-caramel tarts, lemon tarts and the brown sugar shortbread. What makes the brownies "supernatural"?

          1 Reply
          1. re: pescatarian

            Heehee, the "supernatural" brownies are actually just the name of the recipe. It's the chewy brownie recipe that wyf4lyf posted. They really are fantastically chewy, though I would have like a bit more chocolate depth. I used semi-sweet chocolate, next time I will use bittersweet. That thread/recipe is here:

            For the tarts shells, I made this recipe from epicurious:

            They were very nice -- though for the effort of making 10 dozen of them, I would *almost* prefer buying them pre-made!

            The lemon tarts were just homemade lemon curd in the above tart shells, topped with a bit of whipped cream. Here's the lemon curd recipe:

            Lemon Curd
            1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
            1 cup fresh lemon juice
            1 1/3 cups sugar
            4 large eggs
            1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces

            Whisk together the first 4 ingredients and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Add butter all at once and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 15 minutes. Immediately pour curd through a fine sieve into a bowl, then chill, covered.

            The banana caramel tarts are the above tart shells, a slice of ripe banana, topped with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and homemade caramal, then drizzled with a bit more caramel. Very easy and very good!

            The brown sugar pecan shortbread are from the Dorie Greenspan cookbook. Candy was kind enough to email me the recipe, which I will forward to you shortly.

          2. Ok, so can I come to the next one??? Looks amazing and inspiring.....