When it comes to planning the menu for a dinner party, coming up with appetizers and an entrée can be easy. Throw together a cheese plate to go along with that bottle of Crémant. And for dinner, roast a chicken in the oven — along with some fingerling potatoes to serve alongside — and prepare a side of asparagus. But then comes dessert. What to do when baking is not your forte?
Don't worry. If you have no interest in types of flours, leavening agents, and butter temperatures, or if your kitchen is too tiny to make a three course dinner and dessert, we're sharing our big secret with you: don't make dessert! Just strategically buy a few good-quality ingredients from the store and assemble dessert. No one will ever know (and if you have friends who care, then reconsider the friendship). Seriously though, every host or hostess should have a couple of quick and easy tricks up their sleeve for serving delicious appetizers and dessert. These are our favorites:
1. Strawberries mixed with lemon-whipped cream. Just add fresh lemon zest to cream before whipping.
2. Strawberries dipped in a lemon curd-yogurt sauce.
3. Our version of a classic Italian affogato: espresso and whipped cream served over gelato.
5. Fresh fruit and decadent or artisanal chocolate bars.
6. Store-bought angel food cake, toasted with a smear of Nutella and a sprinkle of toasted almonds, hazelnuts, or sea salt.
7. Ice cream sandwiches made with good bakery cookies, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and sprinkle of sea salt
8. Fresh berries tossed with good balsamic vinegar, chopped basil, and a dollop of sweetened mascarpone.
9. Biscotti al Vin Santo. Serve store-bought biscotti with Vin Santo and seasonal fruit.