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Need ocean-themed dessert ideas!

I've been invited to a New Year's Eve dinner party, with an "Under the Sea" theme. The hostess has asked me to bring dessert... just my luck, lol. Can anybody think of ocean-themed desserts?

My only ideas so far are something in the shape a sea-creature (like a flan in a starfish-shaped mold, for example), or something served on oyster shells or large clam shells (like everyone gets an individual apple crumble, for example, served on an open half shell).

Can anyone help me? Thanks!

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    1. re: southernitalian

      That's a good idea! Maybe coconut and in an ocean-shape?

    2. Google the recipe for Sea Glass Jello. I'd recommend putting the squares in a fishbowl along with gummy fish, or individual clear plastic cups with a couple of gummy fish per cup.

      Alternatively, make your own ocean jello. Use plain gelatin (one packet per 12-16 oz of liquid)
      and either Curacao, blue juice/soft drink, or food coloring. Wait till the hot mixture is room temp before adding chilled champagne or other fizzy
      liquid, don't stir much so you don't lose the carbonation. Once nearly gelled, add gummy fish, celery leaves as seaweed, etc. Also, you can get shell-shaped pressed sugar "cubes" online:http://www.gourmetsugarco.com/

      1 Reply
      1. Maybe mini chocolate lava cakes in these kinds of molds? http://www.amazon.com/Vktech-Aluminum...

        1. My first thought was "Under the Sea? For New Year's?" Admittedly, I've always lived in places with clearly demarcated seasons--even though I'm in the Pacific Northwest and near an ocean now, that party theme makes me think "tropical" (and 1950s) rather than "seafood/winter holiday." I, too, would be "floundering" (thank you, I'm here all week) for an idea. :)

          That said, other than desserts that pair well with fish or seafood (like citrus -influenced flavors), you could do something a bit more fun, like this "dessert sushi": http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recip...

          I think it will depend on some factors like how much time/money/thought you want to spend on your contribution and also what types of guests are attending this party.

          3 Replies
          1. re: team_cake

            In her defense, the hostess invited us to her beach house for 3 days and 2 nights over the New Year's holiday. It's a Delaware beach, 3 hours from home for most of us. It won't be tropical by any stretch, but it is a major get-away for all of us, so I suppose she feels it warrants a beach theme. I guess I should be flattered that she thinks I can come up with an oceany dessert?

            There will be 3 families, all with teenagers and older children (no little little kiddies), and all fancy themselves foodies. I'd like to come up with a dessert that I could serve with my head held high, theme aside.

            Dessert sushi sounds like fun!

            1. re: kristen3

              I didn't mean to be rude about your host's theme; I was just surprised. Now that you put it in context, it does make more sense. :)

              1. re: team_cake

                No, I didn't think you were being rude at all. It sounds strange, but I do understand where she's coming from.

          2. Are you the only one bringing dessert or will there be other desserts? Dessert sushi crossed my mind. I'm sure you can find a bunch of variations if you Google it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jpan99

              I'm the only one bringing dessert. I think there will 13 of us. Dessert sushi is a great idea!

            2. Salted caramel something - the sea is salty, right?

              1 Reply
              1. The starfish cookies caught my eye, as well as a couple of other things. But as team _ cake says, that's a tough theme for any time, let alone New Year's.


                Sorry, they're seahorses.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nemo

                  I love the seahorses. Those might be good to make ahead and bring along for tea time :)

                  1. re: kristen3

                    i love the floating islands / oeufs a la neige below… in addition to the seahorses, i was thinking saltwater taffy ;)

                2. Ouefs a la neige: a.k.a floating island. It's a custard-based dessert with poached quenelle-shaped, genoise-like puffs floating in it. Difficult, but delicious and fun.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: mamachef

                    Ooh, mamachef, now you're talking! It's elegant enough for NYE, and it fits the theme! Would I be offending Julia Child's memory if I made the caramel sauce a *salted* caramel, to tie in cookie monster's idea?

                    1. re: kristen3

                      I think that's a lovely idea. Else, you could make salted tuiles yourself, or lace cookies w/ a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Either would be a nice crunchy component to the dish.

                      1. re: mamachef

                        That's great idea - the classic ouefs a la neige is beautiful, but it's also sweet surrounded by sweet with more sweet on top.

                        1. re: cookie monster

                          Interesting - I think that, when it's well done, it's delicate enough (and served in portions small enough) not to be cloying at all. I like the butteriness and egginess of the custard, contrasted w/ the texture of the islands, and meringues don't take much sugar - or don't need to. The salt will help that as well.

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Hmmm . . . maybe it wasn't well done the handful of times I've had it. I just found it to be too one note after a few bites, and I'm a dessert lover.

                      2. re: mamachef

                        When I saw the title to this post, Floating Island was my first thought. The last time I had it was about 10 years ago when I received the honor of whacking the meringue island with the large silver spoon. It was superb.

                        1. re: Chefpaulo

                          Such an elegant dessert, with a coupe of nice dry champagne or sparkling white....

                      3. I've never made it, but my first thought was Floating Islands. All components can be made in advance.


                        15 Replies
                        1. re: viperlush

                          Love this! You and mamachef are thinking alike :) We'll get the the beach house Monday, and NYE isn't until Tuesday night, so I'll make everything there. It actually doesn't look all that complicated. Several components, but none of them are too difficult. Famous last words?

                          1. re: kristen3

                            How about decorating each floating island plate with a Lifesaver candy?

                          2. re: viperlush

                            I have made it many times. You poach sweetened whipped egg whites in milk then strain them, then you make a rich custard with the milk and add some cream. You can flavour the custard with orange or almost anything. Where you can have fun is with presentation. The most traditional would be spun sugar nests, toasted almonds but you can add many different things. You could serve them with starfish cookies.
                            You could mold brandy snaps the shape of oyster shells and fill them with a strawberry sabayon with balsamic pearls?
                            I have had dessert sushi and really did not like it!
                            Or how about jewel cake, in the theme of sea glass.

                            1. re: DowntownJosie

                              I am really into the floating islands. I think that's the winner! Downtown Josie, have you ever used Julia Child's recipe (in a blog that viperlush linked to, above)? I'll try it once before we go.

                              1. re: kristen3

                                I am french so grew up eating this. It was my go to dessert as a child. I always had all the ingredients at home. Here is a similar recipe to what I have always use.
                                I have tried the baked version and do not like it as much.
                                If you can spin sugar, outside, then it is beautiful and very dramatic.

                                1. re: kristen3

                                  I'm not D J, but that's the recipe I use and it's worked every single time.

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    Awesome, thanks to both of you! I'm going to give it a trial run to work out the kinks ahead of time. I've never spun sugar, DowntownJosie, but I may try it!

                                    1. re: kristen3

                                      Here is a good tutorial to spinning sugar but it is messy. Maybe best to make a caramel sauce to drape over the dessert don't forget the toasted almonds!

                                      1. re: DowntownJosie

                                        I have also made this dessert twice and it has been very well received.

                                        1. re: DowntownJosie

                                          That looks lovely. Nice and light after a big multi-course dinner. And I could still call it "Floating Islands".

                                        2. re: DowntownJosie

                                          With some gummi fish (not sure that's a really good idea, but relevant to the overall theme).

                                      2. re: mamachef

                                        You've used the epicurious recipe, Mamachef?

                                        1. re: kristen3

                                          I've used that and the recipe straight from "The Way to Cook" by JC. My sister says the Alton Brown version is quite good also, and mentioned that he kinda holds your hand through it - the recipe is detailed and leaves nothing to question - but it does sound like you know your way around the kitchen already. At any rate, little changes from recipe to recipe. The quality of the ingedients is paramount to this.
                                          (so use the very best, including vanilla.... :)
                                          You'll be fine, and it will be delicious. Let us know how it worked out, or if you need troubleshooting after your trial run.

                                          1. re: mamachef

                                            I'm intrigued by the "lemon snow pudding with basil custard" that Downtown Josie posted above, but I'm just a tiny bit afraid of working with gelatin. I might use the epicurious Floating Island recipe (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...) or the Julia C recipe, but flavor the custard with lemon and basil. I'll keep you posted!

                                2. Are you familiar with the Bakers Coconut Cut-up Cookbooks from the 50s & 60s? They are a hoot. The sailboat cake for August, linked here (I hope) http://archive.lib.msu.edu/DMC/sliker...

                                  might be fun to make, although perhaps more suitable for a gathering with smaller children. You would probably need to assemble the cake on site as it might be a bit hard to transport in its finished state.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: masha

                                    I swear I think my mother had that book! Or maybe one like it that didn't feature coconut quite as prominently :)

                                    1. re: kristen3

                                      Bakers put out a series of those books. My mother had 2 of them, both of which I now have -- the one that I linked and another called Animal Cut-ups. For several years she made the witch cake (October) for my sister's birthday. The year I started 1st grade, she made the school house (September), which is probably the hardest cake in the book, since it's 3-D. I remember that a neighbor came over to help her put it together.

                                      A few years ago, I made the heart-shaped cake (February) but omitted the coconut entirely. The advantage of the coconut is that it helps hide the seams where the pieces of the cake are joined.

                                      1. re: masha

                                        Yes! My mother made the witch cake for my early November birthday too! So cool.

                                    2. Go kid-like and make chocolate cream cheese trifles in sand buckets. Top w/ crushed "sand" of graham crackers. Serve w/ a side of madeleines that look like sea shells.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I love this idea, especially for a beach house party. I'm crazy for madeleines!

                                        1. re: team_cake

                                          I love madeleines too! I have madeleine pans already, and a good recipe, so that one's a cinch. Maybe just for snacking, though, not for the big NYE dinner?

                                        2. re: chowser

                                          Chowser, do you have a choc cream cheese trifle recipe? That sounds like fun.

                                          1. re: kristen3

                                            I mostly wing my trifles, make a sponge cake, some sort of diplomat cream, a fudgey sauce. Maybe something along this idea:


                                            OTOH, with the graham cracker, you could go the s'more route and use some sort of marshmallow, too.

                                        3. Tapioca pudding( fish eyes)

                                          1. Get some sea shell chocolate candy molds, along with a bag of white chocolate chips and some food color and make swirly pastel colored chocolate sea shells. Maybe even dip some in ground nuts to look like sand and arrange them on a plate of ground nuts. You can get creative with the flavors by adding various extracts.

                                            Maybe make some chocolate truffles with the white chocolate as well, peanut butter filling, or a dark chocolate ganache (maybe a little sea salt on top too) - they could be like "rocks" in the "sand". Chocolate dipped tropical nuts would work too.

                                            Or for something different, a tropical fruit tart and some pina colada ice cream.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. So many great ideas here. Considering that all are foodies, I vote for dessert sushi, a great, but simple, cookie recipe cut in starfish or seahorse shape and some way to bring in fish or sea shell shaped gummy candies. (Or even gummy worms.) Either just served on the plate as a decoration or incorporated into a jello shot type application, gummy candies make people smile and say "I should have thought of that."

                                              1. You sure you don't want to try this one?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                  Awesome!! We'll have 2 nights at the beach house... this could be fun for the non-NYE dessert :)

                                                2. Chocolate covered seafoam candy. Yum!

                                                  1. How about desserts that were served with the last dinner on Titanic? Waldorf Pudding and Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly were among the selections.

                                                    If that's too dark, attached are a couple of less elegant yet visually fun possibilities...

                                                    BTW, I have to say that pie DuchessNukem posted is just fantastic!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                      The octopus-draped pies are soooooo cute!

                                                        1. re: travelerjjm

                                                          I'd never heard of seafoam candy! But my favorite candy bar is a Crunchie Bar, which I can only find in Britain (or a few import stores here in the States, if I'm lucky). This seafoam candy looks just like the honeycomb you get in England. Yum!

                                                          1. re: kristen3

                                                            We have Crunchie in Canada too.

                                                        2. i think you should go spongebob and do something with pineapple... then check out the krabby patty cake someone made: http://marycooks.blogspot.com/2009/03...

                                                          maybe i just go to different types of parties ;)

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: rmarisco

                                                            I live in a house full of Spongebob heads. My stock would go WAY up if I made that cake :)