The Second Annual Dessert Party redux: dessert galore and a great community.
The past couple of months have been consumed by yoga teacher training. The past few weeks have been consumed by party planning. I can’t even tell you how many lists I made or grocery and supply runs I made, but all of the preparation was so worth it.
Surrounded by sparkling hot pink garlands, roses, and at least two pounds of sugar, the highlight of the event was sharing my home with New York-based friends new and old. From my first job here to some of my fellow yoga teacher trainees, I was honored to share a festive evening together.
Beverages in the kitchen, a table laden with desserts, and a great big tray of crackers surrounded by cheese. Party time!
A few time honored recipes, a couple that had been tested and approved by office guinea pigs, an angel food experiment, and successful wild card beverages.
(1) Peppered Goat Cheese Truffles from Joy the Baker’s Cookbook (2) Roasted Rosemary Almonds (3) Cranberry Rosemary Spritzer with Rosemary Simple Syrup (4) Champagne Punch x3 batches (5) Baked Brie Bites with Fig Butter (6) Secret Recipe Cheesecake (7) Angel Food Cake with Lemon Curd (8) Ginger Bourbon Balls (9) Orange Hazelnut Bark (10) Coconut Macaroons from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (11) Death by Chocolate (12) Zebra Brownies
I couldn’t find the same Death by Chocolate recipe I used online, so here’s my version – a family favorite from one of my mom’s cousins:
Death by Chocolate
- Family size brownie mix
- 2 packets Dreamwhip (This was hard for me to track down, but I eventually found it. It’s like make-your-own chocolate Cool Whip. Optional, but will make your mousse more fluffy and less like pudding.)
- 2 3/4C milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 packages instant chocolate pudding (I used Trader Joe’s)
- A handful or so of mini chocolate chips
- 12oz Cool Whip, thawed enough to spread
- 1 bag Heath Bar pieces, or about 3 bars crushed
- Bake a batch of brownies in a 13×9 pan. Let it cool and then cut into 1″ squares. Place 1/2 the squares into a trifle or large mixing bowl.
- Make the chocolate mousse by beating together the Dreamwhip, milk, vanilla, and chocolate pudding mix.
- Layer 1/2 the mousse over the brownies, toss on some chocolate chips.
- Add a 1/2″-3/4″ layer of Cool Whip.
- Sprinkle on a layer of Heath Bar pieces.
- Layer on the rest of the brownies, then mousse, then Cool Whip. Top with the remaining Heath Bar pieces.
- Cover and chill at least an hour before serving, but best made the day before.
Key party supplies:
- 9oz beverage cups – festive and helped keep the party from getting too… sloppy. Gold stars helped my friends “make their mark” on their glasses.
- A great big punch bowl with an orange slice ice float made in a Glad container. Next time I’d add more fruit to the float. This was so much prettier and more effective that room-temperature or watery punch!
- My new favorite place for cooking gear: Webstaurant Store! I got my punch bowl, ladle, cups, and more here at great prices with super fast shipping.
Sparkly dessert cards, pictured above. Pink and white paper poufs and medallions decked out the kitchen. A strand of lights around the bathroom mirror kept the party mood consistent.
A giant bouquet of roses from a cross-country friend surprised me as I was still cooking (and still had rollers in my ‘do). And what’s a party without a disco ball or two? I might leave these out all year. Dollar store hot pink tinsel sparkled with white twinkle lights all the way around the living room.
New party best practices to keep doing:
- Set out the extra tp so folks aren’t compelled to dig around your bathroom (party real talk).
- Don’t worry so much about making 120+ truffles, even if they are completely delicious. I had plenty of leftovers to send home with friends, bring to the office, AND stock the freezer!
- I adored my cocodot invites and definitely recommend them.
- Relax the day of the party, but start plating everything a little earlier… (A big thanks to the on-time guests with cutting cakes, assembling bouquets, and bringing out dessert. I swear I was ahead of schedule before you arrived)
Special thanks to Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean for answering my party prep question on their podcast! You ladies are the best and you are totally invited to my next soirée. Your recipes were big hits.
As an adult, I think many of us lose the carefree abandon of literal kids in a candy store. This party was a little nudge back to the joy of discovering a new favorite treat. While I have (almost) more leftovers than I know what to do with, nothing was better than walking into my kitchen to top off the punch bowl and seeing new friends being made around my little kitchen table.
Thank you to my New York family for eating the sweets and sharing your wonderful holiday spirit with each other! If you couldn’t make it, you were missed and are invited over for impromptu leftover consumption before I eat it all myself. Seriously.
Do you have any must-dos in your party planning? Any favorite recipes or short cuts? Do you want to know more about how I planned for this event? Be careful what you ask for!