Buffet Preparation, Storage,and Service Timeline
- Prepare two chocolate tortes, the chocolate sauce, the crêpes, almonds, biscotti, chocolate chip cookie dough, and double batch of compote 2 to 3 days ahead.
- Purchase a New York Cheesecake at the local bakery.
- Make the raspberry sauce the day ahead: Place 2 (16-ounce) bags unsweetened raspberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar; let stand until thawed, a few hours. Press through a sieve and refrigerate.
- Prepare the apple tartlets the morning of the party and refrigerate unbaked.
- Set up buffet table with decorations, plates, little bowls or cups for the cherries, coffee service, wines, and glasses. Set out serving trays, plates, a crystal bowl for the cherries, and serving utensils.
- Wrap the cheeses in plastic wrap and arrange with the pears on a leaf- or dolie-lined marble slab or platter (If you have a fig tree or grape vines, use the fresh); let stand at room temperature.
- Whip the Grand Marnier whipped cream and refrigerate. Cut lemon wedges.
- Make the pumpkin latte and heat for a few hours in the slow cooker.
- Bake the tartlets in the afternoon a few hours before the party starts, and have the chocolate sauce warmed ready as guests arrive.
- Slice the chocolate chip cookies and bake off during the party.
Black Cherry Compote with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen unsweetened pitted sweet cherries, unthawed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier orange liqueur
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir a few times to dissolve the sugar. Boil 1 minute. Add the cherries and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cool the cherries in the syrup at room temperature. Refrigerate up to 3 days.
Just before serving, whip the cream with the sugar and liqueur until very soft peaks are formed. Refrigerate up to 6 hours.
To serve, spoon the cherries and their syrup in dessert dishes. Top with whipped cream. Serves 8.
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Warm Chocolate Sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup chopped skinned hazelnuts
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
Preheat the oven to 350º. Line the bottom of a 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy; add the eggs and beat until smooth. Add the warm chocolate and vanilla; beat on low just until smooth. Add the flour and salt over the batter and mix in. Stir in the nuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes; the top will be still slightly moist, but the sides dry and crackled looking. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto a wire rack over a piece of waxed paper on a flat plate; peel off the parchment and brush off any crumbs. Decorate with a dusting of powdered sugar through a paper doilie for a patterned effect. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.
To make the sauce, combine the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler and gently melt over low heat. Whisk until smooth. You can cool and store in a jar in the refrigerator. To warm: place in a small round slow cooker set on Keep Warm on the table. Stir in the liqueur. Serve warm spooned over wedges of cake.
Makes one 8-inch cake, serves 10 to 12.
Hungarian Lemon Crêpes
Chantilly Dessert Crêpes
- 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Cognac or apricot brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups cold créme frâiche or sour cream
- 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 4 fresh lemons, cut into large wedges
Using an hand-held immersion blender or blender, place the eggs, egg yolks, milk, water, liqueur, vanilla,
cornstarch, sugar, and salt, in the order given, in a deep mixing bowl or blender container. Beat on high until smooth, 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once. Add the melted butter and blend 15 seconds longer. Adjust the consistency of the batter, if necessary. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed. Use 2 tablespoons batter and a 6-inch crêpe pan. Makes about twenty-two 6-inch crêpes.
Place the créme frâiche and confectioner’s sugar each in a small serving bowl with spoons. Place the lemon wedges in a small bowl.
Fold each crêpe into quarters and warm in the oven or chafing dish until serving. To serve, arrange 1 or 2 crêpes on an individual dessert plate; top with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar shaken through a little mesh strainer, a dab of créme frâiche, and squeeze some lemon juice over all. Eat immediately.
Excerpted from The Best Quick Breads, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2000, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
The Easiest Apple Tartlets
- 1 pound Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
- 4 to 5 (1 1/2 pounds) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 425º. Parchment-line two large baking sheets.
On a floured work surface, roll out a sheet of puff pastry to no more than 1/8 inch thick. Divide the dough in half lengthwise, then cut each strip into 4 portions; you will get 8 rectangles per sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet and transfer to the freezer while cutting the apples.
Slice the apples thin by hand or with the thin (2mm) slicing disc of a food processor. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and arrange the apple slices in an overlapping design on each round. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle each and dot with some butter. (Refrigerate until baking, up to 8 hours ahead.)
Bake until golden and apples are cooked, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. You can cut them in half or thirds for small portions. Leftovers are good for breakfast topped with plain Greek yogurt.
Makes 16 tartlets.
Orange Cranberry Biscotti
There are many recipes for biscotti these days, but for the in a pinch cook, these biscotti made with the base of a white cake mix are a sure thing. Biscotti are crisp, twice-baked, crescent-shaped Italian cookies that get a bad rap for being difficult to prepare. Actually, they’re easier than traditional cookies since they don’t have to be formed into individual cookies or rolled out and cut with cookie cutters. You simply form the dough into two logs for the first baking and then slice and bake again. If you want small biscotti, form into 4 logs and cut on the diagonal; cut both bake times by one-third. I am crazy about orange oil, which makes everything taste special. Make up to 3 days ahead.
- 1 (18.5-ounce) package white cake mix
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon orange oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
- Finely grated zest from 1 organic orange
Set oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Combine cake mix, flour, butter, eggs, orange oil, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Beat at low until well blended. Mix in cranberries and zest.
Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 12-by-2-inch log. Place logs, side by side with room in between, on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for 15 minutes.
Remove a log from the baking sheet and place on a cutting board. Using a serrated bread knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on the baking sheets you baked the logs on. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies to cooling racks and cool completely. You will need to bake this in batches. Store in an airtight tin for up to 4 days.
Orange Double Chocolate Biscotti
Use a devils food cake mix in place of the white cake mix, omit the cranberries and substitute white chocolate chips. Outrageous.
Makes 3 to 4 dozen biscotti
Chocolate Pecan Icebox Cookies
Make the dough in the food processor, form into logs, and refrigerate until needed. Slice and bake. Voila! Presto gusto! The logs can also be frozen so you can make 2 weeks ahead. These smell divine baking while the guests are hobnobbing with each other.
- 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecans or hazelnuts
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
In the work bowl of a food processor, chop the chocolate and the pecans by pulsing a few times. Remove.
Add the butter and sugars to the bowl; process 1 1/2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt; process about 25 seconds. Add the chocolate and pecans and pulse until a dough is formed and they are evenly distributed.
Divide the dough in half and place on a large piece of parchment or plastic wrap. Roll into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours, or up to a week.
Preheat the oven to 350º. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut the logs into 1/4 inch slices and place on the baking sheets at least 1 inch apart. Bake one pan at a time until golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the pan with a metal spatula to cool on a rack. Cookies will crisp as they cool. Makes about 5 dozen.
Liberally adapted for the slow cooker from an idea in Taste of Home’s Halloween 2008 edition. Place a can of real whipped cream, Cool Whip, or soy whipped cream next to the crock. I like to use an old fashioned wooden ladle and hang it on the slow cooker handle.
Serves 16 to 20
- 3 1/2 quarts milk cups
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar, to taste
- 1 (4-ounce) bottle vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 8 cups strong brewed coffee, regular or decaf
- Garnish with whipped cream and sprinkled with ground cinnamon
I use a large 6-to 7-quart crockpot. Pour the milk into the crock. Whisk in the pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and spices. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours if everything is cold. Add the hot brewed coffee and taste for sugar. Whisk again. Leave on KEEP WARM at the table. Ladle into heat proof mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon for sprinkling or a cinnamon stick to be fancy.
These are really popular and deliciously aromatic nuts, not only good for munching with wine, but great on top of a salad. The curry powder mixed with other aromatic spices gives a nice punch to the palate.
Cooker: Medium round or oval
Setting and Cook Time: Low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, then High for 30 minutes to 1 hour
Makes 4 cups
- 1 pound (4 cups) blanched whole almonds
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or to taste
1. Combine the nuts, melted butter, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne in the slow cooker. Stir with a wooden spoon to evenly coat. Cover and cook on LOW, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
2. Uncover, turn the setting to HIGH, and cook 30 minutes to 1 hour more.
3. Add the salt and toss with the nuts to evenly distribute. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and let cool completely. Can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature.
Excerpted from Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker for Entertaining, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. (c) 2007, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
Recipes and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2014
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.
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