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Need ideas for Christmas dessert buffet

Hi. This year I get to host my book club's annual December dessert buffet. I love to cook and bake but let's just say I'm not known for my presentation skills. Usually there are about 10 desserts for about 10-12 women, typically an awesome bread pudding, cookies, something that looks incredible and took a ton of time and effort to decorate, a cake and brownies. I am thinking some kind of pie and dried cherry and pistachio biscotti (I have my aunt's recipe).

Any more ideas? I'm trying to plan ahead because with birthdays and school events, December is chaotic.

Thanks.

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  1. are you asking for recipes or how to display things to look pretty?

    for display, I would get two large table clothes in the same color, a few sturdy boxes, maybe a cake stand or footed cake plate and one of those three tier racks you can put plates on. put the table cloth on, then arrange one or two boxes at either corner and drape the other cloth over them, covering them. use the height to make things look interesting, and arrange the other stuff on pretty platters, cake stand, etc. get some wintery looking greenery or flowers or beads/whatever at a craft store to fill in the bits and pieces. use clear plastic plates and cutlery and a solid color napkin (if you're using disposable)

    1. Pecan Pie, Buttermilk Pie, Sweet Potato Pie in individual tart shells...

      Enjoy!

      1. not gourmet, but always a hit... Nonaimo Bars or Magic Seven Layer Bars
        easy to make ahead as well...
        Chocolate Dipped Macaroons or Meringues
        Pecan Pralines
        Fudge - in a few flavors
        Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread
        Trifle
        Free Form Apple or Pear (or whatever is fresh and looks good) Tart
        Fruit Salad with Lime Simple Syrup and Basil
        Whoopie Pies or Mock Little Debbie's Oatmeal Pies
        Truffles -- some with Bailey's or Rum
        Cheese Plate
        ...for a few ideas...

        1. Croquembouche
          Yule log
          Pignoli cookies
          Baklava
          red and green jello salad
          Meringues
          Trufffles (maybe champagne)
          White fudge scented with rosemary
          Coffee parfaits
          Marron Glace

          1. Great ideas, everyone.

            Actually, I was looking for dessert ideas/recipes that wouldn't be too fussy to make but would still look great. For instance, I don't have the patience to pipe icing on sugar cookies to make snowflakes or to frost cakes beautifully. So probably not the croquembouche, although I have a great Chocolatier recipe for one.

            I love the pecan pie (although it would have to be a chocolate pecan pie!), the trifle (I'm not a big fan of bread pudding so this would be a great alternative), truffles, apple tart, and more. But I still trying to find something elegant and easy.

            Thanks for all your help!!

            6 Replies
            1. re: aekbooth

              Bon Appetit recently ran a recipe for Cappucino brownies that looked good. I'm planning to make them either for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Looked easy to make, and they are cut on the diagonal, which made for pretty triangles. The recipe is also online:

              http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/20...

              1. re: aekbooth

                Forgot to add...if you want something easy and elegant, you can always make sables...make a master recipe and divide for variations. You could use that dough or a shortbread dough to make Linzer tarts, too. Plus, sable dough can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, then sliced and baked your convenience.

                1. re: aekbooth

                  One of our favorite desserts that never fails to wow is Apple-Walnut Upside Down Cake, which I always make with pecans as I prefer them to walnuts. The recipe first appeared in a Gourmet magazine holiday issue in the early to mid-90s and I've been making this cake ever since. Note also that the recipe includes a caramel-calvados sauce to pour over the cake, which I've never made successfully so now I just omit it (it is gilding the lily anyway) and serve the cake with softly whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream, delicious especially if the cake is served warm (or warmed in the -gasp!- microwave). Anyway, here's the link on epicurious:

                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                  Another lovely cake I've posted on this board before is Suzanne Goin's hazelnut brown butter cake. Absolutely, utterly delicious:

                  http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/03/haz...

                  1. re: aekbooth

                    I have a recipe for a chocolate caramel pecan tarte similar to chocolate pecan pie, only better (tarte crust, caramel layer w/ pecans, topped w/ chocolate ganache). It comes together easily and is beautiful. The tarte is topped w/ chocolate ganache and then you pipe lines of white chocolate on top and draw a toothpick through for swirls. I can post the recipe if you're interested.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I love any recipe with chocolate, caramel and pecans, so please post if you get a chance.

                      1. re: aekbooth

                        I forgot I've posted it in the past. It's in this thread. It's called chocolate pecan caramel shortbread.

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/572001