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Non cupcake/bar/cookie recipe needed for intimate Christmas dinner party

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What dessert is not overly complicated to make and will wow my guests.

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  1. Chocolate mousse with berries? pavlova? A tray of fine and fancy chocolates with berries (à la chocolate tasting)? profiteroles? poached pears with cookies... all can be mostly be made in advance and are quite easy to prepare

    1. Ina Garten's Pumpkin Roulade.
      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...
      Click or copy the link above. I've made this cake every Thanksgiving and Christmas for the past four years since discovering it. It is easy and delicious and a welcome change from chocolate desserts.

      1. This pear almond tart is a huge hit!!

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

        And just between us, I sometimes use a pilsbury roll-out crust and canned pears in juice. No one can tell the difference and everyone loves it!

        1. Triffle. Layers of cake brushed with sherry, jam, custard and begin again. Top with whipped cream and fresh berries. All items can be store bought.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ola

            Thanks for all the ideas so far!

          2. Perfect Creme Brulee.

            1. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/20...

              super easy, do ahead, seems kind plain until you taste it and then everyone's eyes widen.

              I suggest using a vanilla bean instead of extract.

              something about custard reminds me of Christmas.

              1. These are amazing--far better than you think they'll be, browned butter toffee blondies. Super easy to make.

                http://www.marthastewart.com/350047/b...

                1 Reply
                1. re: chowser

                  Oops, forget this--I read it quickly, in small print and thought you were requesting a bar, not that you did NOT want a bar.

                2. How about tiramisu? I'm making it for my Christmas dinner, molded in a springform pan. Then all I have to do is pull it out of the fridge, remove the outside, and stick it on a pedestal.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LaureltQ

                    i was gonna recommend tiramisu too... or a variation... recently i did a Plum Tiramisu -- homemade ladyfingers (totally not required of course), a mascarpone filling that i folded some of my homemade plum butter into, dipped the ladyfingers in amaretto, and topped the whole thing with some shaved white chocolate (sure bittersweet or semi-sweet would work be good too).

                  2. Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream...ok, I know, most people only associate the spuds with yams & casserole, but this is my signature dessert. People place orders for this. It's super easy if you use a food processor and you can use canned sweet potatoes (fresh is always superior but canned is equally delish and you don't have to boil then mash the fresh)

                    I make these cakes to order so I keep layers in the freezer. You can bake the layers a week in advance then freeze and thaw the day before to frost. Easy buttercream made with butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar and cinnamon can be whipped up in no time with a mixer. Can be made a couple of days before, refrigerated then brought to room temp. With a quick whisk, it's ready to spread. After frosting, use a pastry bag with a wide tip to pipe decorations on top. A very light dusting of cinnamon and perhaps some walnuts or pecans if no allergies as a garnish.

                    When people eat this cake, they can't believe it has sweet potato in it. It's so good. I'd be happy to post my recipe if interested.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Cherylptw

                      This sounds delicious! I would definitely be interested in the recipe if you don't mind!

                    2. Maida Heatter's Raspberry Strawberry Bavarian:

                      <http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/1377...>

                      1. I think desserts baked in individual sizes are appealing for such occasions. How about individual fruit crisps or tartlets? Individual figgy puddings or toffee cakes, either on a puddle of eggnog used as a sauce?

                        1. Chocolate bread pudding:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5937...

                          1. Molten chocolate cakes? Yes, a cliche now, but easy to make and wow people when homemade. Add some ice cream and/or fruit compote or coulis, and you have a great dessert for guests. The recipe I use makes two cakes and can be multiplied however many times. It's in this post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6141...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              I like to think of them as CLASSIC rather than cliche--especially when homemade! I'm saving your recipe, too. Just for two is purr-fect! >>^..^<< Thanks!