I can’t say I love to entertain, because as an introvert – I don’t! But I DO love to make showstopping desserts for parties. I live for that moment of silence when everyone is intently focused on chowing down on my perfect dessert.
For entertaining, I love to make desserts that can be prepared way ahead of time. When they are made ahead, there is no stressing over dessert at the last minute. And after many years of baking, I have some tried and true favorites that I go back to again and again, because I know guests will love them.
Here are recipes for some of my favorite party desserts. All of these desserts travel well, so they are perfect for making ahead and taking to someone else’s gathering, too.
1. Easy French Silk Pie
This might be the easiest showstopper pie ever invented! I like using the frozen pie crust for this, because of my life history of “pie crust struggles.” Be sure that your pie crust is the deep dish size, because this pie has a lot of filling! It is also very rich, so you can slice it to make 12 servings.
1 deep-dish (frozen) pie crust, previously baked and cooled
3 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. + 2 TBS. sugar
Optional: chocolate shavings for garnish (Shave the side of a thick chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler, onto a plate. Refrigerate until ready to use.)
Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed very clean saucepan and begin to heat it over low heat. Whisk it often to prevent any sticking or scorching on the bottom. Slowly heat until the cream is steaming, but not simmering. You may see some tiny bubbles around the edges. Remove from heat.
Place the chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chips, let sit 60 seconds, and then slowly whisk to combine. Add the sugar and gently whisk until all the chocolate is melted and the sugar dissolved. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least four hours.
After it is thoroughly chilled, beat the chocolate mixture with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until a stiff peak will hold its shape.
Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie shell, and smooth the top. Garnish with the chocolate shavings, if desired. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to firm up completely. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before serving to make slicing easier. Makes 12 servings.
2. Stars and Stripes Cake
This patriotic themed cake is essentially a yellow cake topped with whipped cream, strawberries, and blueberries. I like it best made with real whipped cream. But if you prefer convenience foods (and that’s all right, Mama!) you can use a boxed yellow cake mix and a large container of purchased whipped topping instead.
1 yellow cake, baked in a 13×9″ pan and cooled
(3 c. heavy whipping cream, chilled)
(1/2 c. sugar)
OR use 16-oz. tub of purchased whipped topping
1 c. fresh blueberries, approximately
4 c. fresh strawberry slices, approximately
Make the yellow cake, from scratch or from a mix. Cool completely and leave in the pan.
Whipped Cream: Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 2-4 minutes, until soft peaks form. Don’t overbeat or it will turn into butter.
Top the cake with whipped cream or topping. Decorate with the blueberries and strawberries in a flag-stripe design. Makes 18 servings.
*Decorating tip: After topping the cake with the whipped cream or topping, use the back of a spoon to make a little ditch to hold each stripe of fruit and to define the “stars” area. Your cake will look neater and any fruit juice will stay in the ditch instead of running all over your beautiful cake!
3. Peach Cookie Cobbler
This delicious cobbler is good made with other fruits too – such as apples, blackberries, blueberries, and cherries.
2 29-oz. cans of sliced peaches in heavy syrup, drained, reserving 1 c. of the syrup
2 17.5-oz. pouches of Oatmeal Cookie Mix
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
(Vanilla ice cream)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 13×9″ pan with release spray. Spread the peach slices in the bottom of the pan. Pour the 1 c. reserved syrup over them.
In a separate large bowl, combine the cookie mix and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the mixture with a knife, and then use fingers to combine thoroughly so that the cookie mix is crumbly.
Spread the cookie mixture evenly over the top of the peaches and gently press down only around the edge of the pan. Leave the rest of the cookie topping crumbly and bumpy. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 18-20 servings.