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Cheap, easy, really good dessert to bring to a dinner party -- does it exist?

JohnSmith2 Feb 23, 2011 01:39 PM

I'm looking for a signature dessert -- something to bring to dinner parties that is really good. The catch: it has to be (reasonably) cheap and easy. Any ideas?

  1. g
    Gloriaa Jul 19, 2013 12:30 PM

    I love guiness chocolate cake(from epicurious and it only has cocoa powder) no icing with whipped cream on the side. It is light, airy and not too sweet and Everyone loves it!

    1. d
      danadunn Jul 19, 2013 08:06 AM

      Apple dumplings. Peel and quarter granny smith apples. Wrap each quarter in a canned crescent roll and place in a large casserole dish. If you're taking to a dinner party, you probably want to get three cans, or 24. Melt two sticks of butter and combine with two cups sugar and 20 ounces Mountain Dew or Mello Yello. Pour this mixture over the top, sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. People are always asking for the recipe, and it is so easy, I hate to give it to them!

      1. i
        iambecky Feb 24, 2011 02:52 PM

        Pie! You can change the fruit filling with the season, which would keep costs down. Plus you can always ramp up or down the complexity of your filling recipe depending on how much time you have.

        1. j
          JudiAU Feb 24, 2011 02:31 PM

          Chocolate pudding. Fast to make and so cheap that you can splurge on "name" chocolate or booze. People love pudding.

          1. s
            sparkareno Feb 24, 2011 01:20 PM

            This is more easy than cheap. I have a recipe for a bittersweet chocolate pate with zinfandel. It's made in a loaf pan & then sliced and I usually top w/ a few raspberries. The chocolate is expensive but it is so rich that a small slice is enough.

            1. chowser Feb 24, 2011 08:03 AM

              Panna cotta. You can dress it up by making them in individual glass containers, add fruit, compote or serve plan. Use different molds, add different flavors. Cream, sugar, vanilla, gelatin.

              1. mamachef Feb 24, 2011 07:49 AM

                Very casual but definitely signature: Big peanut butter or oatmeal cookies sandwiched with ice cream (assemble at site.) and half-dipped into chocolate coating. And if your supermarket has a day-old or reduced pastry shelf, you can make marvelous bread pudding w/ croissants or half- raisin bread combined with half- cheese danish; bind with custard.

                1. lilgi Feb 24, 2011 07:06 AM

                  I would've thought a tarte tatin with store bought puff pastry. The recipe I use requires a 10" cast iron skillet, but there are so many variations, some recipes don't require it. Very nice with creme fraiche but not needed if you want to keep the cost down.

                  1. HillJ Feb 24, 2011 06:36 AM

                    Without time or inclination to make a dessert from scratch, cheap & easy around here means doctored up quality store bought.

                    Any given week you can find a special on pound cake, cheesecake, chocolate cake, cream puffs, puff pastry and with fresh fruit on special or a drizzle of melted quality chips, freshly whipped cream make the "signature" your own.

                    1. s
                      sancan Feb 24, 2011 06:24 AM

                      I brought something called Banana Split Cake once and have never topped it from the feedback. It's a layered dessert, not really a cake; nor is there any real ice cream. First layer's a graham or butter cookie crust, followed by the "ice cream" filling made with butter, eggs, vanilla and confectioners sugar. Then, of course, all the toppings - bananas, pineapple, whipped topping or stabilized whipped cream, shaved chocolate, nuts, and a few maraschino cherries for color. Retro but yummy.

                      1. Cherylptw Feb 23, 2011 08:42 PM

                        Baked apples topped with a streusel & vanilla bean whipped cream...apples are seasonal and relatively inexpensive

                        1. e
                          elise h Feb 23, 2011 07:53 PM

                          a dessert from costco - they sell excellent desserts at prices I cannot even buy the ingredients for

                          1. goodhealthgourmet Feb 23, 2011 06:39 PM

                            if you decide to go with a trifle, this should help!

                            1. greygarious Feb 23, 2011 06:24 PM

                              A late friend's special pot luck contribution was Orange Bavarian. It was great - I wish I had gotten the recipe.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: greygarious
                                Jay F Feb 23, 2011 06:31 PM

                                Orange Bavarian Cream (Bavarois a l'orange) is in Mastering the Art, v.1, p.596.

                                1. re: Jay F
                                  greygarious Feb 23, 2011 07:20 PM

                                  Thanks - MtAoFC was the type of cookbook this lady would have used so that is very likely the recipe.

                                  1. re: greygarious
                                    Jay F Feb 24, 2011 05:02 AM

                                    Even if it's not the same, it's really, really good. I used to make it from time to time and people really liked it. Instead of using a mold, I'd make it and serve it in a souffle dish.

                                    All this talk, I think I'll make it soon. I've been making panna cotta, so I have gelatin in the house.

                              2. e
                                escondido123 Feb 23, 2011 03:50 PM

                                Homemade chocolate pudding using cocoa, cornstarch and cream. Very nostaligc and good with a nice dollop of freshly whipped cream and a shaking of cocoa..

                                1. Uncle Bob Feb 23, 2011 03:28 PM

                                  Banana Pudding..

                                  1. g
                                    gordeaux Feb 23, 2011 03:05 PM

                                    Bread Pudding

                                    1. todao Feb 23, 2011 02:08 PM

                                      "Cheap" and "Easy" are relative terms. But "really good" says only one thing to me:
                                      Trifle ....
                                      Here's a beauty that will make you the star of the show:

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: todao
                                        Floridagirl Feb 23, 2011 03:25 PM

                                        That's what I thought of, looks great, tastes great, wish I had some now.

                                      2. c
                                        chefathome Feb 23, 2011 02:07 PM

                                        Either individual pavlovas or one big one. Profiteroles are very inexpensive to make as well. I always recommend Eton Mess which is crushed meringue with fresh fruit (traditionally raspberries) and whipped cream - lots of crunchiness, pillowy clouds of cream and tart fruit. Oh, and drizzle on top with raspberry coulis.

                                        Panna cotta is another easy inexpensive dessert. Oh, and so is semi-freddo. Both incredibly simple but delicious.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: chefathome
                                          rafjel Feb 24, 2011 11:03 AM

                                          I'd agree with pavlova - so easy and very impressive, not to mention delicious.

                                        2. r
                                          RxDiesel Feb 23, 2011 01:55 PM

                                          arroz con leche, or one of any number of rice pudding variations. Use real whole milk [I have used an organic 'amish' milk sold at the local farmer's market], the right kind of rice [soft, plump shorter grains - I think I use arborio, but don't remember!] cane sugar, good, fresh cinnamon, and lime zest [the latin touch that really helps make it]. My stove-top version takes a little care watching and stirring, but well worth the effort. Very cheap, easy, great comfort food dessert. You will remind every lovely latina you meet of their abuela [but in a good way .....]

                                          1. t
                                            tall sarah Feb 23, 2011 01:48 PM

                                            I always fall back on a really good pound cake. Drizzled with chocolate or lemon glaze, or just plated with fresh berries & a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: tall sarah
                                              Joebob Feb 23, 2011 03:31 PM

                                              Or turn the pound cake into a trifle...

                                            2. I used to know how to cook... Feb 23, 2011 01:47 PM

                                              Hi John,

                                              Cheesecake. Lemon Vanilla is a classic. I can post a recipe if you don't have one.


                                              1. j
                                                jaykayen Feb 23, 2011 01:41 PM


                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: jaykayen
                                                  pilinut Feb 23, 2011 09:12 PM

                                                  Ditto on the flan. Make one with cream or half-and-half, and all yolks, and you'll be surprised how many people prefer it to a fancier dessert.

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