Postwedding Festivities: Throw a Dessert Party

Give in to your sweet tooth and host a party that takes the cake.
by the knot

You can't turn the corner these days without passing a boutique chocolate shop or a cupcake bakery -- not that we're complaining. A sweet treat holds the power to lift your spirits (yes, the sugar high) and is the one meal everyone usually agrees on. Two perfect reasons to throw a party devoted to desserts.

The Menu

The key to an unforgettable night or day of indulgence is to make it easy with simply prepared sweets and store-bought tasties, then kick it up a notch with one over-the-top homemade showstopper (try our molten cake with raspberries). Here's what else to consider.

Have an interactive treat. Chocolate fondue or a DIY s'mores station is a guaranteed icebreaker. Guests will mix and mingle while comparing marshmallow burning tips or yummy fondue flavor combos (like bananas with pretzels). It also looks chic. On a pretty serving plate, arrange shortbread cookies, jumbo marshmallow, pretzel sticks, and slices of fruit; or, use graham crackers, marshmallow, and chocolate bars. Don't forget the skewers!

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.

Serve the centerpiece sweet early. Whether you've whipped up these molten chocolate cakes or reinvented your own favorite recipe, don't wait until your guests are in a sugar coma to present your masterpiece. Time it right: Bring it out 30 to 45 minutes after most guests have arrived.

The Drinks

Coffee, espresso, and tea are no-brainers for a soiree. But what's a party without a little bit of liquor? Desserts lend themselves quite nicely to wine and cocktails.

Pick the perfect wine. When pairing your treats with wine, make sure the sip is as sweet as the dessert, and try to match up the colors as well. For example: chocolate fondue and red zinfandel, or s'mores and espresso martinis. A semidry champagne works with everything.

Offer palate cleansers. Sometimes people get flavor overload. After tasting so many sweets, a tall glass of refreshing, bubbly seltzer (or soda water) can be refreshing.

Make a signature drink. Go all out and serve milkshakes. All you need is a blender, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate syrup. Or, mix up a chocolate martini and rim each glass with chocolate shavings or crushed candy.

The Setup

Desserts look good no matter what, but with a little effort you can create the perfect party buffet. Now is a good time to use those cake plates, serving dishes, and barware from your registry.

Create a bake shop display. Set up serving pieces in various heights on a long table for a stylish, tiered look. Stack small colorful plates (which add to the décor) and make sure each dessert has a serving utensil, and that there are ample forks and spoons for each guest.

Use cool containers. Gather shot glasses, martini glasses, and wineglasses to serve desserts like ice cream, trifle, mousse, and fondue.

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.

--Christa Vagnozzi

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