When one thinks of cookies, the crisp and crunchy, easily-totable kind typically comes to mind. But, according to Alice Medrich, author of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies, bars like lemon squares and bite-sized cakes count as cookies, too.
Every host or hostess should have a couple of reliable recipes for all of their cookie-baking needs. Forget relying on Betty Crocker to help you out here; making a bar cookie or mini cake from scratch is easier than you think and the end result is so much better than store-bought.
The Perfect Dinner Party Dessert
When it comes to serving a delicious yet easy dessert when entertaining, do as Medrich does and keep things simple. “Right now I’m into small things, like all kinds of cookies,” Medrich says. If she has the time, she loves to serve a platter of cookies of all kinds of shapes and flavors; it’s an easy and delicious finish to a casual meal. But if she's in a pinch, Medrich will buy good vanilla ice cream and serve it with a killer homemade chocolate sauce and cookie.
The One Recipe to Master
If there is one recipe every host or hostess should have in their repertoire, Medrich says it should be a great brownie. It “can be served plain as finger food, or served plated with a dollop of cream or a little scoop of ice cream and strawberries.” Her default recipe? Robert’s Brownies My Way.
She resists calling these beloved dense and creamy squares fudgy. “It's inadequate for these exceptional brownies,” she explains. Medrich likes to cut the brownies into 25 rather than 16 squares they're so rich. She adds, “The small squares seem more inviting after dinner.” Of course, one can always come back for more.
With a Simple Dessert, Focus on Presentation
When serving small treats like cookies, brownies, or mini cakes, have fun with the presentation. Try making chipwiches by sandwiching ice cream between two cookies, or cutting your lemon bars into unique flower shapes with a cookie cutter. Or, use the mini cakes to construct an even larger dessert.
Medrich recalls the time she created a giant ice cream cone covered in white- and chocolate-frosted Lucy’s Chocolate Minis. She used toothpicks to stick each cake into the Styrofoam cone, so after the candles were blown out, each child got to pluck their own little cake from the cone.