I must stop here and note that it really does take a village to throw a party of this scale. We are grateful for the support (and hard labor) of friends and family who help in myriad ways to get this party started. One such helper is Ellyn who has appointed herself our Silver Bitch. For three or four years now she has come over a few days ahead of time to polish all of our silver serving trays, candlesticks, and Ilise’s special trivia bell. You know there’s no party without that damn bell, so special thanks to you, Ellyn! We couldn’t do it without you.
One of the menu-planning tips is “buy some, make some” – a few carefully selected homemade dishes mixed in with store-bought or otherwise procured items still earns you massive hostess and home chef cred. We applied this concept to the appetizer course in the previous post, so today will address the main course and everyone’s favorite, desserts.
- Italian Beef w/ Sweet Peppers (purchased from Portillo’s)
- Roast Turkey Breast, Condiments & Cranberry Sauce (roasted by mom-in-law – thank you, Ina!)
- Spinach Lasagna (catered by Marcello’s/Father & Son)
- Carrot and Cranberry Salad w/ Fresh Ginger Dressing (Homemade) – Recipe linked – I recommend adding a tablespoon of honey to the dressing and using purchased matchstick carrots as a time-saver
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad w/ Kale, Cranberries and Toasted Hazelnuts (Homemade) – Recipe linked
The sweets table was heavy with homemade cookies, brownies and candies. But of the three specialty desserts, only one was homemade, the others were bought and doctored up. It’s a little easier to make ahead in this category since most cookies and baked goods freeze well. Le dessert menu:
- New York style Cheesecake w/ Fresh Raspberry Topping (Cake was store bought, topping homemade)
- Spiced Orange Drizzle Mini Cupcakes w/ Dark Chocolate Frosting (Homemade – cupcakes frozen, frosting added the day before) – Look for an upcoming post with recipe!
- Pecan Pie (Bought from Baker’s Square – v. popular, the first to go)
- Mondel bread – plain and with chocolate chips (Homemade – keeps well at room temp for weeks in an airtight container) – Recipe linked
- Rugelach – Apricot & Raspberry with and without walnuts – (Homemade – freeze unbaked, then bake the day before party [there’s too much potschke-ing to do it the day of]) Look for an upcoming post with recipe!
- Molasses Spice Cookies – So much more delicious than they sound, they’re chewy and full of zingy gingerbread spices! These are reeeeeeeeally good and you must make them immediately. (Homemade – bake ahead, then freeze) – Recipe linked
- Double Chocolate Cookies with Cherries and Pecans (Homemade – bake ahead, then freeze) – Recipe linked
- Cappuccino Brownies (Homemade – bake ahead, then freeze) – Recipe linked
- Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls (vegan & gluten free) – These were super-popular at the party and have received numerous recipe requests so it’s included in this post, below.
- Cashew Brittle (Homemade – Make ahead, keeps in airtight container for a few weeks)
- Homemade Bourbon Caramels (Homemade – Make ahead, keeps in airtight container for a few weeks) Ilise’s adventures with caramels have been documented previously – read all about it here.
- Chocolate Fudge with Marshmallows – A familiar blast from the past, this recipe comes right off the can of Eagle brand condensed milk.
- Grapes & Clementines – For those who are able to resist the lure of baked goods and all that added sugar! I admire your willpower.
Of the desserts, Ilise’s rugelach is always popular – deservedly so. I’ve been known to hijack a tin of these treats just so there will be leftovers for me to savor later on. You’ll see a full post on these tasty cookies coming very soon.
The other runaway hit of the dessert table was the Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls. Our Ohioan friends claim they’re similar to Buckeyes – maybe so, but even Michigan fans can enjoy these tasty treats without betraying team loyalties. It was easy to make these goodies gluten-free and vegan-friendly, but you can use “regular” ingredients if you prefer.
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
|Printable Recipe- Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls|
|File Size:||649 kb|
Recipe source: Ilise Goldberg adapting the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies recipe
*These treats can be made gluten-free and/or vegan*
- 2 cups creamy peanut butter – preferred brands are Skippy or Jif
- 1 lb of confectioner’s sugar
- 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) -- If making vegan version, use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, they are supposedly the best faux-butter option.
- 3 cups Rice Krispies -- If making gluten free version, use a gluten free cereal such as Barbara’s Brown Rice Crisps
- Approx 20 - 25 oz (1¼ to 1½ lbs) hard chocolate for dipping, a combination of dark, semi-sweet & milk chocolate is fine. OR if making vegan version, use vegan chocolate chips. By using a little extra chocolate (1½ pounds) it’ll be easier to dip the PB balls, but you’ll have leftover chocolate when you’re done.
- Mix peanut butter, sugar, butter and cereal/Rice Krispies in electric mixer with paddle attachment until blended.
- Use your hands to form the dough into 1 inch balls or smaller. Place them on the cookie sheets fairly close together.
- Chill in refrigerator until firm (overnight is okay).
- Melt chocolate in microwave, over stovetop or in double-boiler, and keep melted while dipping the balls. (Gently reheat if necessary.)
- Dip each ball in melted chocolate until it is entirely covered, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Try using long skewers to dip the ball into the chocolate. Once skewer is removed, cover the hole with a little excess chocolate.
- Place dipped balls on cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
- Refrigerate until hardened.
- Store in refrigerator in covered container.