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Finger Food Desserts

I'm looking for ideas for semi upscale desserts that could be eaten without utensils. It's for a cocktail party, so I'm trying to think outside the cookie/brownie box. Ideas anyone?

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  1. What about mini eclairs or cream puffs?

    1. Would mini-cheesecakes be too pedestrian? Properly decorated, they might be nice.

      1. How about mini-financiers? The little French cakes made with ground nuts (usually almonds) and egg whites. They have a different texture because of how they are made. I made some for Christmas dinner for dessert because there were lots of other sweets and we wanted something small. I made them in small oval shapes using a silicone baking thing I got from JBPrince. They looked pretty cool and were easy to manage, and kind of elegant. And supereasy.

        If you went the creampuff route, you could use a filling like one I just saw in a catalog that is equal parts marsarpone and lemon curd whipped together. Might have more body and be less drippy than a vanilla sauce filling, and sounds delicious (though I don't think either would be problems.

        1 Reply
        1. re: karykat

          Good ideas - and Madeleines as well.

        2. I made a trio of bonbons for a recent fancy dinner: chocolate meringues, almond-orange brittle, and a fruit gelee. The gelee was the least successful -- they seemed to ooze and had to be rolled in sugar again just before serving -- and the brittle might not be good if any of your guest have less-than-perfect teeth. But I would definitely recommend the meringues -- delicious, light, easy to make.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jlafler

            All good ideas. I hadn't thought about mini financiers. I've made the one from Sunday Supper at Lucques so maybe I can adapt it.

            I was thinking about piping something chocolate (maybe ganache?) into hollowed out strawberries. Or is that a cliche?

            1. re: piccola

              Hmm. Looks good. Now I am thinking about maybe sweetened marscapone in the hollowed out berry, then dipping the whole thing in chocolate.

              1. re: shannoninstlouis

                That would be fantastic, I think. You could even use cannoli filling, if you wanted.

                1. re: piccola

                  Mmmm cannoli filling with less guilt what's no to like? I'd suggest if you're using chocolate chips in the filling to either give them a quick spin in the food processor to make them smaller or use the mini variety so the berries aren't difficult to fill.

            2. You might consider the Gourmet miniature double-chocolate cakes recipe:


              They are small but sinfully delicious and very easy to make. To make them more upscale you could serve them with a raspberry sauce and a little spiked whipped cream.

              I included them in a review of holiday finger foods I made:


              I'm always on the hunt for great sweets like these, so please do let us know what you finally decide on.

              1. I've done this, for about 25 people, and it was time consuming but pretty. I made this tart:


                I did not line the edges of the tart but did spray the edges of the pan. You can cut a round tart into little triangle pieces. Let's see if I can explain this--you cut the tart into even pieces (8 or 10). Cut the piece down the center, horizonally, so you cut off the point into a triangle. That's one piece. With the remaining, you make two cuts that go from the center edge (the part you just cut) and meet at the center of the outside edge. That gives you three more pieces. They're not perfect triangles but unless you examine them closely, you can't tell easily. Serve on little fluted paper.

                I also did cheesecake bars which can be decorated to look fancier. These dulce de leche cheesecake squares are good:


                Again, you can serve individual bites on fluted paper. I just used graham crackers. And you can go wrong w/ various types of chocolate truffles.

                5 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  chowser -- for the cheesecake bars, do you buy the dulce de lech premade? I have never made it or bought it and don't know where to look for it. Different brands?

                  It looks very good.

                  1. re: karykat

                    I boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for a couple of hours. A friend of mine from Guatemala taught me that about 25 years ago and it's so easy I stick w/ it instead of making it from scratch.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Yikes. Sounds scary. I picture it exploding. But maybe should get over that and try it.

                      1. re: karykat

                        Yeah, that's what I thought the first time, too, but have never had problems with it. There have been a few threads here about it, too:


                        1. re: chowser

                          The trick is supposedly to keep the can fully submerged the whole time, but I've definitely let the water drop below the top of the can over a dozen times without any problems. It's really delicious and I definitely recommend trying it!

                2. - Bite size pecan pies
                  - Petit fours
                  - Mini cannolis
                  - Chocolate dipped fruit

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: thedoorchick

                    these all came to mind for me as well.

                    i'd also suggest gramercy tavern gingerbread made into mini cupcakes.

                    i know you want finger foods, but if you had a fondue pot, you could allow people to make s'mores!

                    fruit soup shooters with a graham cracker square for garnish

                    or similarly, spoon shooters filled with chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, and/or tapioca filling sprinkled with graham or chocolate crumbs and/or nuts; you could even do big spoons filled with a bite of bread pudding... i think.

                    one of my recent holiday *mistake* innovations was taking graham crackers, allowing them to soak in raspberry jam, then dry, then coating in melted white chocolate and allow to dry... i know it's kind of cookie-ish, but it tastes really good and is very simple

                    baklava traditional style... or my favorite innovation i call faux-klava, using rasberries and severely reduced balsamic vinegar syrup, and some thinly sliced almonds layered in with the jam...

                    truffles are always a hit... go unique with champagne truffles, or ginger lavender, or cayenne...

                  2. I"ve fallen into the cupcake trend and have been making mini-cupcakes for the last couple of parties i've done.

                    They are easily eaten out of hand with a cocktail glass in the other.

                    1. Little mini pie crusts filled with lemon curd (so easy to make), lemon bars cut into small squares with a dusting of confectioners sugar, mini cheesecakes (think Paula Deen does a recipe that looks good where key lime pie cookies are the base...)...

                      1. Hi shannon, here's my report and pics from a dessert party last year. A few ideas there may work you.


                        1. Truffles, easy to make lots of different types, and they're pretty.
                          I second (or third)Mini cream puffs and mini tarts* - I find silicone bakeware works best, makes it easier to pop out the tart when you can push it out from the bottom. I also use a shot glass (the traditional graduated type) to push the dough into the pan :)

                          *Check out joyofbaking.com she has a recipe for butter tarts that uses a shortbread type crust that could be filled with just about anything.

                          1. Depending on whether you are set on baking yourself....a local catch-all farmer's market in my area has a lovely stand with beautiful little pastries that are easily eaten out of hand. One of my favorites is a small oval meringue type biscuit, topped with a creme brulee slice....many other variations, things that would be too decorative and tedious to try and make the day of a dinner party.

                            Depending on the type of meal....there are many pretty variations on baklava...squares, rounds, cylinders...etc...although kind of crumbly

                            these sound kinda neat..

                            1. For Christmas gifts, I made chocolate-covered (homemade) marshmallows and chocolate-covered caramels. Both are a process, but neither is especially challenging, and the reaction across the board was stellar. My recipes yielded a 9x13 pan of caramels and a 9x13 pan of marshmallows; cut into squares/cubes and dunked in dark chocolate, they were great. The fresh, true flavor really sets them apart, and to me, a little bit of dark chocolate is the ideal end to an evening.

                              To that end, those little mini chocolate cakes also sound great! A pan of anything cut into diamonds, rectangles, or triangles instead of squares, and presented attractively can be beautiful! Keep us posted on what you do!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: kshrimp

                                What caramel recipe did you use? I did marshmallows at Christmas and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were and how easy.

                                1. re: shannoninstlouis

                                  I used the recipe from Nancy Baggett's "All-American Desserts" book - I can't say enough good things about that book and her "A-A Cookies." The recipe includes the history behind it from a group of church ladies in Albuquerque, NM - it's what I love about her books!

                                  I can paraphrase the recipe for you if you'd like - it's basic, butter and cream, sugars and corn syrup, but very good. With extra fleur de sel sprinkled on top - YUM! We caught my husband's foodie uncle from Toronto with his eyes rolled back in his head in ecstasy!

                              2. There's a Japanese treat I just love--mochi (a rice flour candy) filled with ice cream or sorbet. It's delicious and elegant. Here are instructions: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/a...

                                I also did mini pumpkin cheesecakes this year, using cupcake molds with a single gingersnap on the bottom as a crust. I topped them with a dollop of brown sugar sweetened sour cream ,a d a few pomegranate seeds. They were yummy, and so pretty.