For Holiday Entertaining
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are almost here. They sure do have a way of sneaking up on us. No doubt you are already planning your holiday entertaining schedule, including what events to host and what meals to serve, and are probably trying to find the perfect treat to round out the perfect holiday meal. When it comes to a dazzling dessert this holiday season, try adopting a new motto – less is more!
While everyone loves the showstopping arrival of that amazing cheesecake or triple chocolate masterpiece, the reality is that the we are all feeling overindulgent this time of year. The good news is that there is no need to sacrifice flavor or presentation in order to create a memorable end to your celebration. Behold the miniature dessert – so fun to create and present. Your favorite desserts can be modified and showcased on a smaller scale and still have a massive impact without the guilty conscience.
Some of my favorites can be found in a shot glass – one of the greatest entertaining vessels around. Think parfaits, brownie sundaes, and fruit compotes – your mini sweet treat options are limitless. Simply layer your ingredients into the glass and refrigerate until ready to serve. Offer a selection as part of a dessert buffet or a single dessert simply presented on a white plate at the table.
Combinations that are sure to satisfy the sweet tooth of any holiday guest include: sautéed apples (see recipe) with vanilla cream and caramel drizzle, sprinkled with toasted pecans; crumbled brownies and vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and a little crème de menthe (or your favorite liqueur); crumbled pumpkin cake or muffins layered with cinnamon whipped cream and sautéed apples; red velvet cake layered with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce; and pound cake layered with raspberries and melted white chocolate.
Miniature pies are also great holiday treats that will allow your guests to satisfy their sweet teeth without the hefty calories that come with a big slice of pie. All you need is a mini muffin tin and your favorite pie filling. Delicious ready-to-use pie crusts and puff pastry dough found in your local grocery store can make these delectable sweets super easy to prepare. All you need is a round cookie cutter that’s a little bigger than the mini muffin cup. Simply cut your rounds and mold them into the muffin tin, fill, and bake – perfect for holiday must-haves like pecan, cherry, apple, and pumpkin, or the ever-popular chocolate filling.
Mini layer cakes are also easier to make than they sound. Bake your favorite cake or brownie in a 9 x 13 pan (if you opt for a box mix to save time, go for it – no one is judging you, I promise … especially during this busier-than-normal time of year). Use your trusty cookie cutter to cut the cake into your desired shape (round will be the easiest to work with, but if you are feeling adventurous and envision something like a star or Christmas tree shape, I say go for it). Slice the cake in half, or even thirds, so you have thinner layers. Then pipe your favorite icing in-between the layers, top with a bit more icing, and sprinkle with your favorite topping – crumbled toffee, mini chocolate chips, and shredded coconut are just a few ideas that are ideal for mini cakes. You can also drizzle your favorite sauce like caramel, chocolate, or raspberry over the top and onto your plate for a beautifully dramatic presentation and added flavor.
With a little imagination and not too much effort, you can create winning confections everyone will love this holiday season – and won’t tip the scales. After all, good things come in small packages.
Cinnamon Sautéed Apples
– 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
– ½ stick butter
– ¼ cup brown sugar
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Melt butter in medium pan. Add apples and sauté 3 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until sugar melts. Sauté about 8 -10 minutes over low heat until apples are fairly soft, stirring often. Serve warm or cold as a topping for miniature parfaits, pies, cakes, and ice cream.
Owner of The Lemon Tree Cafe, located at 113 S. White St. in Downtown Wake Forest, offering freshly prepared salads, pastas, soups, and take-away fare.