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Dinner party dessert... please help!

I'm returning to the HC board for more dinner party dessert input (as last time the CH advise I received resulted in a resounding hit). We're hosting a dinner party tomorrow night but as it's gotten quite hot in LA recently (and my charming apartment lacks an air conditioner) we've decided on a menu of asian inspired small plates (shrimp summer rolls, bbq duck salad, sea urchin and scallop brown rice dish). What kind of dessert should I serve with this? I'd prefer something that doesn't make 15 servings or require all day assembly but I'm open to any ideas. Other limitations: I don't own an ice cream maker or a tart pan. Otherwise I'm pretty well equipped. I was thinking something lemon or ginger or maybe strawberry shortcake with mint in the berries. I also like the look of this recipe but am worried it's a little too out there:

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. If it's going to be warm, I would suggest maybe doing a granita? There are tons of good recipes on epicurious for anything from a coffee granita to citrus or other fruit granitas - no special equipment required - just a pan, a freezer and a fork. You could even make up your own - for an asian one do something with mint, mango and ginger? And maybe make some crisp cookies to go along with? Depending on the granita you could do ginger snaps, or some kind of almond cookie? Granitas are lovely served in nice cocktail glasses with a cookie and a sprig of mint as garnish.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Andiereid

      Yum....a granita is an excellent idea....the ruby red grapefruit one is excellent....should be able to find the recipe with a search....easy too!

      1. re: Andiereid

        I was also going to suggest panna cotta with maybe a strawberry or mango sauce.

        1. re: Andiereid

          i'm also from los angeles - have you been to gingergrass? although i'm not a huge fan of gingergrass, i had a dessert there i thought was a refreshing end to an asian/vietnamese meal.

          they served a lime bar (like a lemon bar, but made with limes) and a lychee granita. it was a good sized bar, and a small clear glass of lychee granita. i think you would be able to get a can of lychees at any asian market.. i don't know how you would make it - maybe you take the lychee juice in the can and freeze it?

          1. re: jwn

            I've served iced lychee before, not a granita, but lychee in syrup put in the freezer for a little bit so it is nice and frosty but not frozen solid - I can't recall how long it took, but it was a very easy and refreshing dessert.

          1. I must say that with this menu (very nice) I would serve some perfect fruit, mango or jack fruit if possible, which you could probably buy cut from a good Asian market. Chill, pour over a tiny bit of eau de vie, mint. Granita and cookies as suggested works well too.


              1. Chiled lemon mascarpone mousse (http://frenchfood.about.com/od/desser...) doesn't involve cooking. A green tea mousse would be great, too. (http://www.internationalrecipes.net/r...)

                1. Actually, what you're thinking of looks pretty yummy too. If you end up making, plese post and update how it turns out.

                  1. How about an "updated" Strawberry shortcake?

                    I just saw some great strawberries at my local farmer's market in SGV.

                    Just buy some pound cake, top with strawberries, drizzle with some honey and garnish with a dollop of cool-whip.

                    The guests can assemble it themselves - buffet style.

                    1. How about Strawberries soaked in a cabernet sauce with vanilla ice cream. Use the link below to a recipe I've used a couple of times. I look forward to tasting it at Terra the next time I visit Napa.


                      1. Not Asian-inspired, but a great no-heat option is drunken strawberries.
                        1 1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
                        1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
                        1/4 cup bourbon whiskey or rum (I've also used a French peach cognac)
                        1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
                        1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

                        Stir together ingredients in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate (preferably overnight). Serve chilled on its own, or over ice cream and/or pound cake (when extra heat in the kitchen isn't an issue, I toast the pound cake slices under the broiler for a bit).

                        1. Thanks for all the great ideas... I love the drunken berry and the mousse suggestions. I may save the lemon basil cakes for another time since this won't be that formal of a meal. My bf loves angel food cake and that would pair well with many of these ideas so maybe I'll think about going in that direction. Thanks again and I'll let you know what I end up making!

                          1. You've probably already decided on a dessert for your party, but just in case and perhaps for future reference, here's a link to a angel food cake cupcake. I'm thinking of making these this weekend myself.

                            1. I make strawberry shortcake using a sour cream biscuit as the "shortcake." With the rest of your menu, and taking a cue from a recent Iron Chef America episode, maybe chiso leaf blended into whipped cream and some black pepper on the strawberries would make for a unique but very tasty and pretty simple dessert.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ccbweb

                                really good strawberries with black pepper rock! also, strawbs with a little balsamic vinegar are nice, too.

                              2. The Honey Panna Cotta from Epicurious is wonderful


                                I did not make their sauce for it but made a balckberry coulis spiked with a bit of blackberry brandy and some Minus-8 vinegar but a good balsamic would work well or Essentia wine from Quaddy. I just put a package of defrosted blackberries in my processor along with maybe a quatrer cup of superfine sugar and pureed it. I then heated it to help dissolve the sugar then strained it through a fine strainer to remove the seeds, add the extra flavorings to your taste and chill. The panna cotta is a snap to make. When ready to serve I topped each portion with the coulis and garnished with a blackberry and a sprig of mint. The Madelines were from Frank Stitt's Southern Table and are made with fine cornmeal for a nice bit of crunch

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Candy

                                  wow, those are really beautiful! i always spend so much energy turning the kitchen into a war zone while i bake/cook that I tend to forget how much presentation counts. I think I may be starting too late for a panna cotta (dinner tonight and I won't be home until 6) but I'm definitely filing this away. I think I'm going to go with a lemon angel food or mini lemon cakes and then try to rock one of the many fabulous berry/fruit suggestions in this thread. I've never had strawberries with pepper but it sounds good.

                                  1. re: LAcupcake

                                    Thank you, panna cotta must be one of the most over looked desserts and so versatile. This photo is one I made in a bundt pan amd flavored with Chambord for a bridal shower a couple of years ago. I found for a group it was easier to make one large one and turn it out on a platter. I macerated the raspberries on Chambord too and the pink panna cotta on a red plate with red raspberries was beautiful.


                                    Panna Cotta is a pretty mindless thing to make and you can do it a day or so in advance and keep it well covered.

                                    1. re: Candy

                                      That really is lovely, Candy. I can never get mine to unmold as beautifully. Any special tricks?

                                      1. re: cimui

                                        No, the bundt is a Kaiserform Silicone coated pan and I did give it spray of pam type stuff just to help. Turned out beautifully. i guess it is one of those things you try like crazy to do everything right and cross you fingers it all works. That heavy silicone coated pan is worth the investment for more than panna cotta. When I used to sell the stuff and a customer was appaled by the price, I asked her if she ever questioned the price of her husband's tools. She said no and I said well this is one of your tools. No questions!