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ideas on bite-sized desserts


chocoera
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alrighty, so, my parents are on the board of a hospital foundation and they are having a fundraiser the first week of november. this fundraiser includes a silent auction (which i contribute to) as well as a sit down dinner and dance.

every year is different, but this year, the theme is chocolate/desserts. so instead of centerpieces at the table (most seat 8, a few seat 10) they are doing a combo centerpiece/dessert. (its usually a plated meal with salad, entree and dessert)

*ps: about 200-225 people attend...and its a formal affair*

so, my point is, my parents asked if i'd help make dessert centerpieces, but *sadly* i have to share this duty with someone else (someone who, frankly, i don't think matches my idea on what to serve) so obviously, i want to make whatever i serve stand out or be fantastic!

they are going to have tired plates on the tables, and 2-3 mini desserts per person. they can no be plated (so no garnishes/sauces etc) but need to be hand-held and bite sized...i'm just having a hard time figuring out what to serve that would be *wow*.

i had thought choc strawberries or truffles...but anything chocolate related would do (Ex: brownies)

does anyone have any ideas on what to serve for mini desserts? i know gfron did a BEAUTIFUL display of minis, but i wont be able to plate anything....

thoughts? i would love some motivation/inspiration!

love you guys! go crazy :)

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Random thoughts and ideas...

Think about a chocolate/caramel/salt combination. Incredible, and a form of crack for many of us.

Pierre Herme, in both his and Dorie Greenspan's dessert books, has a lemon pastry cream that I haven't ever made, but I hear is to die for. No, it's not chocolate. . .but. . .passionate as I am about anything chocolate, I won't pass up anything lemon, either.

If you're willing to stray from the chocolate idea, most people will find anything multicolored to be delightful. Petit fours?

Below is a recipe I use often for strawberry pie. Instead of baking the crust in a springform pan, I often bake it in mini-muffin tins, and make individual tarts. I don't recommend serving strawberries in November, but take the strawberries out of this recipe and you've got a base for other fruits. Or just use the crusts, which are incredibly no-hassle and very good, to hold a chocolate mousse or similar concoction. I put 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture into each mini-muffin well, tamp it down, and it's perfect.

Strawberry Pie

Crust:

1 cup unbleached flour

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

3 T powdered sugar

Pulse in food processor until mixed. Pat into bottom of springform pan, allowing it to come up the sides of the pan slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Filling:

3 ounces cream cheese

1 t lemon zest

½ cup sugar

1 T lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream, whipped until stiff

Pulse cream cheese, zest, sugar, and juice in food processor until mixed. Fold into whipped cream. Pour into cooled crust.

Strawberries:

About 3 cups strawberries, of uniform size

½ cup currant jelly

Cut off stem end of strawberries and arrange, points up, on filling. Cover entire surface with strawberries. Brush on melted currant jelly.

Refrigerate until time to serve.

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mini fruit tarts

mini chocolate chiffon pies

mini eclairs (only if you can assemble and serve quickly)

mini cheesecakes (in silicone molds, bases baked as separate cookies)

hand rolled truffles dipped in cocoa or nuts (can make several flavored truffle bases)

spritz cookies with different toppings/dipped in chocolate

decorated (maybe filled) cupcakes

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I've always been a fan of mini tarts filled with chocolate mousse. You can either buy or make your own sucree shells. You could even do a chocolate sucree shell. Even better, make real chocolate shells and fill with a variety of items; mousse, hazelnut gianduja (or your favorite nut flavor).

Steve Lebowitz

Doer of All Things

Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

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how about a sweet wonton?

use a fruit filling and dust with sugar and cinnamon or chocolate after frying?

Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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Choclava --- a baklava with chocolate. It has a bit of a chocolate hit to it and a nice chocolate drizzle on top, but it's not all about the chocolate.

Very tasty, but it is quite sticky. I normally place individual servings in pretty muffin tin liners to make it less messy, or little doilies would be nice.

I also use a good quality chocolate, chopped, rather than the chocolate chips called for in the recipe.

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Here's some books for inspiration:

Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker

Just a Bite by Gale Gand

Bite-size Desserts by Carole Bloom

The first two will likely be in your local library, the last one was just published.

And some threads to inspire:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=68041&hl=minis

That should get you started :wink:.

edited to add: for some reason my links didn't work. If this link works you can scroll down to the other two links I was going to post, Wendy's blog & Help me design a dessert bar.

Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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you guys are my saviors!! this all sounds mouthwatering.....and i like the idea of giving them an option to have some "full-force" chocolate desserts and some desserts that have just an accent of chocolate to them. (and call me crazy...i would love to do a salted caramel tart or a nutella tart with marshmallow icing (blow torched of course!) and cut into mini pieces...) but yum. fruit and cream cheese flavors, the spritz cookies and handrolled truffles....even the choclava....oh. my. goodness. lots of hugs and kisses to you!!!! :wub: and i'm going to google those book choices ASAP :smile:

i do have a question when it comes to mousses/custards etc.....since i'm attending the event as well, i will not have time to assemble on site 10 min before service etc, so i'm looking at a time frame problem. :wacko: they have an appetizer buffet and free drinks cocktail hour, and thats when people bid, socialize etc (and since desserts are now the centerpiece, i would think some people might start nibbling then) but after that, we have dinner served, and then people will eat dessert after that(or as they eat dinner...), so i need to know if there's a difference (stability and food safe wise) with a baked ganache vs a mousse w/gelatin (or if choc mousse, no gelatin) vs a lemon curd or cream cheese base. i think these desserts will be out at least 45-60 min before cocktail hour (the lady planning it is VERY particular about everything being in place and looking perfect before guests arrive) then there's cocktail time, then dinner......

soooooo......advice?

thank you!!! have a beautiful weekend! (*thanks for the ideas and comments too...especially with this time frame problem...i have to get a suggested menu to nancy before sunday night/early monday AM) oh geez..... :raz:

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I can second "Sweet Miniatures" by Flo Braker - everything I've made from it has been fabulous. The pecan strudel is to die for!

If you have mini tart shells, you can made many different bite-sized desserts by using the same sucree crust and changing the filling. Fruit curd (lemon, key lime and orange work well) with a fresh berry are beautiful and easy to make ahead of time. The curd is acidic enough that there won't be a food-safety problem. Ganache works well, and you can infuse the cream with a flavor, just as you would for a molded chocolate center.

Mini cream puffs filled with Kahlua white chocolate buttercream (or any flavor combination), then dipped in dark chocolate work well when sitting out for a couple of hours. The pate a choux can be baked ahead of time, and recrisped the morning of the event, before filling.

I second the caramel, salt and chocolate combination - it's always on the menu when I make dessert bars. Either I make a caramel dipped in chocolate, or combine caramel and salted nuts in a mini tart shell. You can add a dollop of ganache in the bottom of the tart shell. Just make sure the caramel is thin enough that the tartlet is easy to bite into.

Although I love orders for dessert bars because the look beautiful and have great variety, don't underestimate the amount of time it will take to make and set ebverything up.

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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If you do mini tarts you can purchase shells which have been "sprayed" with chocolate which eliminates any moisture issues with mousses and creams. I would stick to cooked creams (e.g. pastry cream), curds, etc. If they don't sit out for hours on end, they will be fine.

Steve Lebowitz

Doer of All Things

Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

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If you do mini tarts you can purchase shells which have been "sprayed" with chocolate which eliminates any moisture issues with mousses and creams.  I would stick to cooked creams (e.g. pastry cream), curds, etc.  If they don't sit out for hours on end, they will be fine.

Just curiosity on my part. Where would you purchase shells already sprayed with chocolate? The only catalog I have is from Qzina and they don't carry them and my googling did not turn up any empty shells to purchase.

Do premade shells taste as good as the ones the pastry chef might make? Are they actually cheaper because of work hours saved?

Thanks.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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If you do mini tarts you can purchase shells which have been "sprayed" with chocolate which eliminates any moisture issues with mousses and creams.  I would stick to cooked creams (e.g. pastry cream), curds, etc.  If they don't sit out for hours on end, they will be fine.

Just curiosity on my part. Where would you purchase shells already sprayed with chocolate? The only catalog I have is from Qzina and they don't carry them and my googling did not turn up any empty shells to purchase.

Do premade shells taste as good as the ones the pastry chef might make? Are they actually cheaper because of work hours saved?

Thanks.

what a good question......care to enlighten us steve? :raz:

PS-craving your lovely mint pattie dreamy chocolate things today. bad. :biggrin:

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Do premade shells taste as good as the ones the pastry chef might make? 

Maybe. It depends on how well made the ones from the pastry chef are. :raz:

Some of the commercial shells that contain real butter are not too bad. People used to primarily eating typical grocery store pastry will think they're awesome. I prefer to make my own. Partly because I think they're better than the commercial stuff and partly because I don't use the same shell for every filling. The commercial shells frequently are a bit on the thick side as well.

I don't like the commercial chocolate-lined shells. I find they have way too much chocolate in them. If I seal shells with chocolate or cocoa butter I like it to be extremely, almost undetectably, thin... even if there's a chocolate filling going in.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Just curiosity on my part.  Where would you purchase shells already sprayed with chocolate?  The only catalog I have is from Qzina and they don't carry them and my googling did not turn up any empty shells to purchase.

Do premade shells taste as good as the ones the pastry chef might make?  Are they actually cheaper because of work hours saved?

Thanks.

The Albert Uster Imports catalog has all-butter shells sprayed with white or dark chocolate; I've never tried them so I have no idea if they are thin, thick or what the coating is like. I keep their small 2" plain and chocolate shells on hand for those 7 am calls for same day orders. They're pretty good for commercial shells.

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Just curiosity on my part.  Where would you purchase shells already sprayed with chocolate?  The only catalog I have is from Qzina and they don't carry them and my googling did not turn up any empty shells to purchase.

Do premade shells taste as good as the ones the pastry chef might make?  Are they actually cheaper because of work hours saved?

Thanks.

The Albert Uster Imports catalog has all-butter shells sprayed with white or dark chocolate; I've never tried them so I have no idea if they are thin, thick or what the coating is like. I keep their small 2" plain and chocolate shells on hand for those 7 am calls for same day orders. They're pretty good for commercial shells.

I've used the Albert Uster shells several times. They are a good size and thickness and the spray coating is very thin.

Steve Lebowitz

Doer of All Things

Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

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If you do mini tarts you can purchase shells which have been "sprayed" with chocolate which eliminates any moisture issues with mousses and creams.  I would stick to cooked creams (e.g. pastry cream), curds, etc.  If they don't sit out for hours on end, they will be fine.

Just curiosity on my part. Where would you purchase shells already sprayed with chocolate? The only catalog I have is from Qzina and they don't carry them and my googling did not turn up any empty shells to purchase.

Do premade shells taste as good as the ones the pastry chef might make? Are they actually cheaper because of work hours saved?

Thanks.

what a good question......care to enlighten us steve? :raz:

PS-craving your lovely mint pattie dreamy chocolate things today. bad. :biggrin:

As is mentioned above, Albert Uster Imports carries them. I haven't used them often, but when I had big jobs, it simply wasn't cost effective to make my own. The quality is good and the cost per shell is hard to beat.

Steve Lebowitz

Doer of All Things

Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

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