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finger-food desserts

I'm hosting a late-night cocktail party this weekend, and am serving a variety of savory finger foods (bacon-wrapped dates, some phyllo-dough cups with chicken and pesto, something like a beggar's purse, peaches wrapped in serrano ham). I'd love to add a few finger-food desserts that wouldn't require a knife and fork, but I'm a little bit lost in the dessert department. Any ideas?


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  1. I always get raves when I serve tiny cookies (an idea I stole from a neighbor who served them at a party). I use the littlest ice cream scoop I can find and make tons of classic cookies - peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal etc. People go nuts for them. I've been thinking lately it would be fun to do those as ice cream sandwiches.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lupaglupa

      the mini ice cream sandwich idea is a great one. I'm hosting a big party in about a month. Will have to remember it.

      1. re: pescatarian

        Petifores from the Plaza Bakery & call it a day !

    2. Banana eggrolls with caramel dipping sauce
      Assorted miniature cheesecakes
      Petit fours
      Cassava-coconut cakes on banana leaves

      1. Any cookies or bar cookies, miniature fruit tarts, slices of linzertorte, baklava, cupcakes (incl. cupcakes made in mini muffin tins), or puddings/mousses/custards in small shot glasses -- I think you can buy plastic shot glasses.

        1. profiteroles and cream puffs can be made really small

          1. Epicurious has a recipe for maple pecan bars that people just love and they are a bit more elegant than regular bars. Also, lemon bars are nice. You could also do cheesecake bites - I made a lemon swirled cheesecake (most likely from Epicurious as well) and I topped it with thinly sliced lemon peels that were cooked in sugar water. Very pretty presentation.
            How about mini phyllo shells with a little custard and a few fresh berries in them?

            1. I make these delicious empanadas stuffed with guava paste and cheese and people go nuts for them. Try to get a firm white cheese like queso fresco or in my case, I use a firm Dominican white cheese called Tropical. If you are in the NYC area, you can get it at any bodega.

              1. Wow, thanks guys. All fantastic ideas. I'm especially looking forward to trying to make mini ice-cream sandwiches!

                1. someone on another thread is waxing poetic about nutella stuffed wontons that giada delaurentiis made. sounds swoon-worthy to me!


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: funkymonkey

                    Ooh, combining ideas from that thread, phyllo cups, mascarpone cheese and nutella.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Just this afternoon my local bakery was selling mini phyllo cups with nutella mousse and a sprig of fresh mint or a raspberry on top- nice and light feeling, but decadent.

                  2. If you're making a lot of them, I'd try to make as many large ones that can be cut, than making a lot of individual desserts which would take a lot of time, especially if you're making time consuming appetizers, too. I've done flourless chocolate cake, pecan caramel tart, petit fours, cheesecake, brownies (truffle brownies are great--w/ a chocolate ganache topping. Make them a few days before, freeze and cut while frozen) and then cut them to bite size. Even then, frosting a lot of petit fours takes time. With little cheesecake bites, you can cut a strawberry in half and decorate with that. Also, you can use those phyllo cups and fill w/ assorted mousse for something quick and easy.

                    1. I have made mini triffles and tiramisus in liqeuer glasses; serve with espresso spoons.

                      1. Pikawicca just dropped by this afternoon and gave me some imported quince preserves. I had just been looking at The Last Course (much discussed lately) there is a quince thumbprint cookie recipe I may have a go at. Quinces are so under appreciated!

                        1. I have made these coconut treats in small muffin tins and they were a big hit and SUPER easy to make. They froze fine too (the leftovers):

                          Truffles. who doesn't like truffles?

                          Mini brownies topped with herbed mascarpone, or cinnamon blondies or almond cakes with dulce de leche.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jsaimd

                            I find these to be very intriguing.... although I don't think I have ever used lemon extract. Any ideas on that? I also don't have a food processor (long story). Is it important enough to chop the coconut that it would be worth doing by hand?

                            1. re: danikm

                              The lemon extract isn't completely necessary I think, but I did use it.

                              If you don't chop the coconut it changes the texture. It is more custardy than chewy, which is one of the things that make them super yummy.

                              Do you have a blender? that would work too.

                          2. Chocolate covered strawberries (dark, milk, and white).
                            thumbprint cookies or small linzer tortes.
                            mini fruit skewers topped with shredded coconut

                            I have to admit that I'm likin' the mini ice cream sandwich idea too :)

                            1. oooh... *please* do the mini ice cream sandwiches and report back! I second the nominations for mini cupcakes and mini tarts (both very easy in a mini muffin pan... especially if you fill the tarts with something easy like a curd and then top with fruit). I also think a mousse or something along that line would be adorable in a mini shot glass (or espresso cups if coffee flavored). or you could even have mini rootbeer floats in those!

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: LAcupcake

                                Will definitely do. Does anyone have any inspired ideas for flavor combos on the sandwiches? Right now I'm thinking peanut butter cookie and chocolate ice cream, but I'm open to suggestions (keeping in mind that the palates of some guests will be... well, let's say they eat a lot of fast food).

                                Also, if anyone has a link to a great cupcake recipe for the mini cupcakes, I would appreciate it. I can't say I've ever tried to make a cupcake before...

                                1. re: danikm

                                  standard chocolate chip cookie with mint ice cream

                                  1. re: danikm

                                    ginger snap/molasses spice cookies with vanilla bean or lemon ice cream, plain old chocolate chip with vanilla or chocolate ice cream, sugar cookies with dulce de leche ice cream, crispy chocolate cookies with vanilla and strawberry ice cream (neopolitan style)... and the list goes on. i'd pick my favorite ice cream or cookie if i were you and then a complimentary flavor to partner.

                                    As for cupcakes, you can't go wrong with a standard yellow cake and chocolate frosting. I like this recipe and have used it a lot:
                                    this website also has lots of creative recipes if you were willing to do something more involved:
                                    Almost any basic cake recipe can be converted into cupcakes; you just have to tinker with the baking time (especially if you're making minis). But once you watch the first pan it will get much easier. Again, I'd pick a favorite or tried and true recipe and go for it.

                                    1. re: danikm

                                      A double chocolate cookie with coffee ice cream.

                                      1. re: danikm

                                        Just yesterday I made a batch of sin free chocolate chews which are a super dark chocolate cookie. They have an intense cocoa flavor which is not overly sweet and probably any dark chocolate lover would enjoy them. Anyhow I decided they would be great for ice cream sandwiches so I went and bought some strawberry frozen yogurt. I tell you, it was bliss! The dark chocolate and sweet strawberry are a perfect complement and everyone loved them! They are a bit more grown up than your standard ice cream sandwich and not so sweet as to be cloying. Yum!

                                        1. re: ArikaDawn

                                          Ohh could you please share your recipe for them? Thank you!

                                        2. re: danikm

                                          i have also used ginger snaps as a base and topped with flavored whipped cream cheese. drizzle with chocolate sauce and it looks cute. SUPER easy mini cheesecakes.

                                      2. Cannoli/ I would do one traditiona style and the other, with a light chocolate cream with Grand Marnier, and mini dark chocolate chips then dusted with cocoa.

                                        Another pretty one is a big strawberry cut from the top in fourths not all the way through and filled with ricotta and sugar, or cream cheese and sugar (powdered) top with a mint leaf.

                                        Orange slices dipped in dark chocolate

                                        Madelleine dipped in chocolate

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                          Hey chef, I bet marscapone would work well in those strawberries also....great idea. I will have to keep that one in mind.
                                          Petit fours would also be nice.

                                          1. re: millygirl

                                            Great idea is right! They are stunning when done. Used to do frozen grapes rolled in glistening sugar too, pretty and tasty.
                                            Petit fours, something I have been wanting to make for a long time now. I hear so much about the frosting not setting. I wish I had a sure fire frosting that set and was easily decorated. I have all the tools, just a recipe is needed....

                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                              Did you see MakingSense's recipe for poured fondant in this thread:


                                        2. - squares of dark chocolate with sprinkle of sea salt
                                          - chocolate covered coffee beans
                                          - slices of caramel with an apple slice in between or vice versa - caramel apple sandwiches
                                          - baklava
                                          - candied nuts
                                          - tofee
                                          - assorted fudge

                                          1. What about tiny dark-chocolate cookie tart shells (I used Claudia Fleming's chocolate caramel tart base) filled with a tiny scoop of ice cream and drizzled with a crushed raspberry sauce?

                                            1. Toffee Crunch Matzos are always a hit no matter the season

                                              I recently made a new cookie... shortbread, sandwiched with an oreo creme type filling, but mixed with raspberry puree (to make a raspberry creme), then the whole sandwich dunked and coated in melted white chocolate... sooo good.

                                              Graham crackers sandwiched with broiled marshmallows and drizzled or dipped in chocolate.

                                              Fruit soup (strawberry or blueberry or cantaloupe [yummy and in season]) in shooter glasses

                                              Key lime white chocolate tartlets or cookies

                                              Apple slices drizzled with caramel (and sprinkled with chopped pistachios)

                                              Skewered grilled fruit kebabs

                                              And for unique ice cream sandwiches, white chocolate chip cookies sandwiched with raspberry yogurt or ice cream. Or shortbread sandwiched with dulce de leche ice cream. Or gingersnaps sandwiched with vanilla ice cream (or coconut).

                                              Macaroons, some with bottoms dipped in chocolate

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Emme

                                                I love the s'mores idea! And what are toffee crunch matzos? Perfect for Passover I would think.

                                                1. re: Emme

                                                  I have been subsisting on triple ginger cookies stuffed with vanilla froyo. I use the tiny cookies from Trader Joes and stuff with a teaspoon of frozen yogurt. So good and satisfying without the guilt (well mostly without guilt if I sick to just one).

                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                    How do you make Toffe Crunch Matzos???

                                                  2. Healthy, easy and tasty: Pitted dates stuffed with toasted almonds (you can add chocolate if you want to gild the lily)

                                                    Chocolate haystacks

                                                    Mini-meringues (either plain or sandwiched with Nutella)

                                                    Chocolate bouchons

                                                    1. Use your shot glasses up and make mini milk shakes....little shakes....and very tiny cupcakes - Cake and Shake!

                                                      1. What a fun thread - why doesn't anyone every invite me to these kind of parties?

                                                        Here's another idea but with the caveat that I have never made it but have wanted to: it's an carrot cakey-cookie with cream cheese filling, like a mini inside out carrot cake:

                                                        1. Pear Compote with Brie in Phyllo Cups

                                                          1 1/3 lb pears, firm but ripe (about 3-4 good size pears)
                                                          3 T sugar
                                                          1/2 t cinnamon
                                                          Store-bought mini phyllo cups (frozen) (2 pkgs., or 30 cups)
                                                          1 T pear brandy
                                                          2 TB butter

                                                          Peel pears and coarsley chop. Melt 2T butter in saucepan and add cinnamon & sugar. When sugar is dissolved, add pears, cover and cook on med-low heat for 20-25 minutes until pears are tender. Remove from heat, add brandy & let cool. Spoon into phyllo cups and top each cup with small piece of brie. Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes or until brie is melted. Serve warm.

                                                          1. Miniature brownies, lemon bars, pecan pies, chocolate chip cookies, truffles...

                                                            1. Thank you so much to everyone who posted their wonderful suggestions. I made mini cupcakes (nigella lawson's chocolate cherry and gourmet's mini vanilla) and mini ice cream sandwiches (homemade mini chocolate chip cookies with a variety of flavors-- I liked the vanilla with a touch of salt best). I was also planning a few phyllo dough desserts but had a minor breakdown when the SO brought home puff pastry sheets instead of phyllo dough. Thanks again for all of the suggestions!

                                                              1. I don't know about you but I'm running out of time after making all the savory ones and I'm looking for some help. Soooo, I run down to BJ's or Costco and I pick up some of the frozen mini e'clairs and the frozen mini popovers.These are decadent and crowd pleasing. Believe me, I've tested it!!!

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: othervoice

                                                                  Speaking of Costco's e'clairs, Trader Joe's Belgian Profiteroles are awesome. Bring the profiteroles to room temperature, drizzle the dark chocolate over & serve! Adults as well as kids enjoy these. A mom at school served these for a birthday party & I thought it was a great idea to not have to worry about cutting cake, messy frosting, needing plates, etc. I then served it at my daughter's 11th birthday party & everyone loved it!

                                                                  1. re: ceekskat

                                                                    those profiteroles are great, and FYI, they sell them at costco as well.

                                                                    the bon bons at TJ's and mochi ice cream balls are yummy too, although they can't sit out, obviously.

                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                      Emme, Is it the same brand at Costco...do the ones at Costco have a dark chocolate sauce too? Thanks.

                                                                      1. re: ceekskat

                                                                        I believe it's the exact same product. I was actually tipped off to Costco once when TJ's was out of it, and one of their crew members said, "Just go over to Costco."

                                                                2. Hey danikm, do you have a recipe for the bacon wrapped dates? I've actually never had them but heard a lot about this combo. Can you tell me how to do them?

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: millygirl

                                                                    Here's what I do: take a package of bacon and cut it in half (so each strip is half as long). Roll one date up in 1/2 strip bacon. Secure with toothpick. Bake at 350-400 for 20-30 minutes, or until it is as crispy as you like.

                                                                    You could also stuff the date with cheese (manchego in particular is great) or almonds or water chestnuts first. Or dress it up by dredging the wrapped date in a sugar/spice mixture, like brown sugar, cumin and cayenne, or whatever strikes your fancy.

                                                                    But I have to say I have NEVER had so many people swoon over something I've made as when I did the very simple prep in the first paragraph. I'm talking multiple people coming up to me (without knowing I was the one who brought them) saying "You HAVE to try the bacon things over there!" Sort of annoying, actually, considering how much time I've spent on other stuff. Oh well. Bacon is magic.

                                                                    1. re: JGrey

                                                                      Sounds easy peasy JGrey, thanks so much for the details. I am definitely going to give them a try. To be honest, I'm not that fussy on the dates, but if you say everyone swooned over them - I'm sold. By the way, do you need to soak the toothpicks beforehand so they don't burn or is that not an issue? I know, lots of questions for what is probably a very simple recipe, but I just like to be sure. Thanks JGrey

                                                                      1. re: millygirl

                                                                        I didn't, and as I recall they don't even turn brown. However, I used bamboo toothpicks from the asian market, not sure if that would make a difference.

                                                                        I actually think that the plain dates and bacon method is a little bland, but so many people were so smitten, I couldn't argue. The manchego cheese made it a lot better, IMO.

                                                                      2. re: JGrey

                                                                        Sorry for the slow reply. I've been away. Yes, I follow a preparation similar to that of JGrey's first paragraph. I always stuff them with cheese, though. I usually use something relatively cheap (some parmiggiano will do) and save the money to splurge on really nice dates. You don't want to use the hardened, dried pitted dates that supermarkets usually sell in plastic casings. Look for large, soft dates in the vegetable section of the grocer, usually in one of the refrigerated cases.

                                                                        I've never soaked the toothpicks, although I usually don't insert them until I'm rolling the dates onto the other side halfway through baking. They're not in there very long and the temperature doesn't have to be that high, so I wouldn't worry about it.

                                                                    2. I don't think I read that anyone said fruit dipped in chocolate. Everyone loves that, hence the demand for Edible Arrangements - although I'm always in favor of making my own if I have the time.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                                                        I don't mean to be a sourpuss, but that's one of the few desserts that I hate. It's so clich├ęd and the store-bought never tastes very good. I've seen advertisements for edible arrangements, but never actually seen anyone serve it. It always struck me as a little kitschy.

                                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                                          Actually, we use edible arrangements for professional events fairly frequently, when making ourselves isn't an option, and they always go like hotcakes- people always pick fresh fruit with a bit of chocolate over the standard high-sugar catered cakes. I would definitely try to recreate my own arrangement- maybe with fresh pineapple, papaya, mango, dipped in choc then coconut for a tropical theme?

                                                                          1. re: happybellynh

                                                                            I'm one who snubbed my nose at this business concept when it first came out thinking "who would buy into this, how could this succeed, fruit goes bad so quickly" - can't tell you how many parties I've been to where it's the first thing that goes and how many times I've used them to send a nice thank you and the receiver loved it. Who'd a thunk!!! I'm still a believer that you can do it better yourself though. :-)

                                                                      2. I think Brutti e Buoni are great after little bites and really bridge between the savory and the sweet. Just blend 2 parts almonds with 1 part sugar in your food processor, and then add enough lightly beaten egg white to make a really thick like mud consistency. Roll into balls and bake at 350 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes or until set.
                                                                        Chocolate truffles are also great and easy to make ahead. They can be as simple as bringing heavy cream to a simmer and pouring over 1/2 as much chopped great quality bittersweet chocolate, and a little gran marnier or other liquor (or not). Stir, chill and then roll in balls. Chill and then roll in high quality cocoa.

                                                                        1. The Oregonian newspaper had a great food article yesterday on s'mores and all of the variations that can be used to dress them up or make them more interesting. The pictures made my mouth water! Here's a link: http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/ore... and

                                                                          Too bad the online version doesn't include pictures.

                                                                          1. Try tiny cream puffs filled with a blend of Nutella and whipped cream. Scrumptious!

                                                                            1. There's these super tasty and simple Raspberry Tartlets I make. All you need is raspberries, puff pastry, raspberry jam, and a cupcake tin! I have the recipe posted on my blog. Here's a direct link to that page: http://sarahmasciana.com/2007/09/24/r...