Just Desserts for Springtime Party

"An all-sweets shindig is a great way to splurge on flavor - not your bottom line," according to famed pastry chef, Diana Sproveri. Springtime reminds me of tea parties and get-togethers with friends, however the cost associated with hosting a get-together can easily get out of hand. The cost of delicious Desserts is cheap when compared to preparing a full dinner. 

When planning your party, remember that variety is key. Appeal to all taste buds with a range of goodies from fruit tarts and cream puffs to red velvet cake and the classic chocolate chip cookie. Have a bowl of fresh fruit and low-fat sorbet for the diet crowd as well as water, coffee and wine.  Here are some easy and cost effective ways to host a fabulous Springtime party.

Create a beautiful ambiance for your guests
- Candles improve the atmosphere along with dim lighting and soft music. Don't forget to keep scented candles away from the food so that they do not interfere with the tempting aromas. Bouquets of fresh flowers add a charming ambiance.

Decorate the Table
- Pick up old dishes, jars, glassware and serving pieces at a secondhand store such as Goodwill© and don't be afraid to mix and match styles...it's part of the fun. Make sure to keep to no more than two colors so that the desserts remain the star of the show.

- Give your table some height. The height will add visual impact to the table and a bake shop feel. Arrange cupcakes on cake stands; bar cookies on tiers; cut up brownies can fill a martini glass.  Glass apothecary jars make elegant cookie jars.  Make sure each dessert has a serving utensil, and that there are ample forks and spoons for each guest.

- Doilies on dessert plates add a beautiful touch and pretty mini-muffin liners are great for displaying tidbit sized treats and nuts into.

Vintage plates add instant charm
 - Fill two large white mixing bowls with ice and old fashioned glass bottles of milk.

- You can never have too many cocktail napkins, both on the buffet and on end tables.

- Place the plates at the far end of the table, the food in the middle, and the beverages, cutlery, and napkins at the other end so guests are free to reach for the pastries.

For eight people: 80 pastries, 4 bottles of wine, 2 pots of coffee
For 16 people: 160 pastries, 8 bottles of wine, 3 pots of coffee
For 24 people: 240 pastries, 12 bottles of wine, 5 pots of coffee

Dessert Ideas
Blackberry Cheesecake Squares: Cut a frozen cheesecake into 1 inch squares and refrigerate. In a blender, puree 2 cups of blackberries with 2 tbsp. of sugar.  Pour the blackberries onto small plates and place cheesecake squares on top. Top each little square with a single blackberry.

Cookie Sandwiches: Use store-bought cookies or cookie dough to make sandwich cookies. After baking the cookies simply spread the flat side of each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of jam or frosting.  Sandwich the filling between two cookies.

Dipped Wafer Cookies or Pretzels: Melt a half a bag of chocolate chips (or any type you like) in a Pyrex measuring cup on 50% power. Check and stir chips every minute until fully melted. Be very careful not to burn the chocolate. Dip cookies or pretzels one by one into the melted mixture. Coat a cookie sheet with wax paper and place dipped cookies onto sheet. Chill in refrigerator for an hour.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Shots: Bake or buy little cookies to sit on top of shot glasses which are filled with milk. 3 ounce shot glasses work perfect.

Dusted Brownie Bites: Cut brownies into little squares and dust them with powdered sugar.

Don't forget mini cupcakes!
Chocolate-coated Strawberries:  Begin with a carton of large ripe strawberries with stems. Melt two to three large dark or milk chocolate bars per carton of strawberries in the microwave, in a  Pyrex measuring cup. Be very careful not to burn the chocolate. Hold strawberries by the stem, dipping them one by one into the cup. On a large plate coated with wax paper, rest the strawberries (which should only be dipped just over halfway) and chill for about forty-five minutes. 
Puff Pastry Palmiers & Apple Tarts: Puff pastry is a rich, buttery dough that expands into thin, flaky layers when heated. Available frozen, it requires thawing. Pepperidge Farm© works fine, but a richer, all-butter alternative is Dufour©, sold at Whole Foods Markets and specialty stores. Recipes: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/palmiers-10000001131116/index.html

Pie Crust Rugelach: Pie crust isn’t just for pies. It can also be used for rolled cookies, like rugelach. In addition to crust that comes in a pie plate, Pillsbury© makes two others...one that’s folded and one that’s rolled. Recipe: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/rugelach-10000001131183/index.html

Orange Spiced Mini Muffins: A great casual buffet dessert. Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gale-gand/orange-spiced-mini-muffins-recipe/index.html

Lemon Thyme Bars: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/lemon-thyme-bars-recipe/index.html

The Party is Over
Provide dessert doggie bags. As with any party, you'll probably make much more than your guests can eat. Send them home with extra treats in favor bags or Chinese take-out containers that match your decor.

Keep your life simple and whatever works best for you is the right way to go. Enjoy!