Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts March 1998
Short Cuts:JUST DESSERTS
The appetizers may be amazing, the salad
succulent and the entrée enticing, but the course that really
counts -- to at least 99 percent of us -- is dessert.
Why bother with all the preambles? Why not plan a party that
goes, so to speak, straight for the icing?
"Dessert parties are a great way to bring people together later
in the evening, after the theater or a dine-around," says Susan
Gage, owner of an eponymous catering firm in Oxon Hill, Md.
While it's hard to foul up a menu in which sugar is the main
ingredient, there's definitely an art to selecting a palatable mix
of sweets. The buffet should include items of different tastes and
textures, says Gage. "Since most people are apt to take a little
bit of everything, the offerings should complement each others'
flavor and appearance."
Her rule of thumb: "Have something creamy (mousse, crème brulée
or trifle, a layered pudding), something fruity (pie, tart, poached
pears or fresh berries) and, of course, something chocolate." If
budget allows, she says, a savory, non-sweet offering like sliced
cheese will nicely balance the plates.
Simplify self-service buffets with finger foods like
minipastries, tartlets, cookies and sliced fruit with toothpicks,
advises Tom McCartney, general manager of Englewood, N.J.-based
Gourmet Home Cuisine. For larger cakes and pies, preslicing keeps
mess to a minimum.
When ice cream is part of the smorgasbord, Gage recommends
having servers prescoop it and pile the scoops (called quenelles)
in a serving bowl.
To dress up traditional coffee and tea service, place bottled
liqueurs like Kahlua, Grand Marnier and Bailey's near the coffee
urns, inviting guests to give their cups a little kick. Self-serve
bowls of whipped cream add a Viennese flair, adds Gage. And for
those guests who just can't get enough of a sweet thing, offer a
bowl of chocolate shavings, to be sprinkled decadently on top of
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