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Thread: Help! Need to impress with a not too sweet dessert needed

  1. #1

    Help! Need to impress with a not too sweet dessert needed

    I need an impressive (or just really really tasty) dessert that is not too sweet. I am making it for my in-laws who won't be serving it to their guests until Friday. It needs to freeze well or stay fresh until then and travel well from my home to theirs (a 4 hour drive). I am very busy tomorrow, so I'll just have a few hours at night to make it before they head home. Lots of constraints, but I'm hoping you guys can inspire me. Help, please? (BTW-I'm pretty proficient in the kitchen.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    at work in Ohio
    Some ideas that I came up with, although none of them are great Biscotti--can be jazzed up, dipped in chocolate, white chocolate, etc. But not very impressive. What about a bundt cake? Could make the cake and a frosting and keep them separate until ready to serve. Sorbet and some shortbread cookies? Or a crisp where you prep everything and keep all parts separate until baking? I really like CL's One-Bowl Mocha Cake, but am not sure about 2 days (recipe). A marble loaf cake? (Martha Stewart has a recipe I've always wanted to try.) If you search "impressive" in titles only you'll get quite a few threads with impressive desserts. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    North Carolina
    Spiced Red - Wine Poached Pears are always yummy and light.

    Spiced Red Wine-Poached Pears
    2007, Ellie Krieger

    2 cups dry red wine, such as cabernet or merlot
    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    1 orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
    1 (1 by 3-inch) strip orange zest
    1 cinnamon stick
    2 cloves
    4 firm, ripe pears
    In a 4-quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. While liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact and being careful not to blemish the flesh of the pears. Slice 1/2-inch off the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom. Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm. Remove saucepan from flame, uncover and cool with pears upright in pan. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally, if desired. Gently remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from flame and let liquid come to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons syrup and serve.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I'm pretty sure these would freeze well. These are not too sweet and I think they are very impressive. I got the recipe from Goin' Coastal here in 2004. That's her notes at the end. I have always used salted peanuts. I cut them into diamond shapes and put each bar in a cupcake paper so they don't stick together and are easy to pick up.


    Heat oven to 350
    Blend the following ingredients:

    3 cups flour
    1 1/2 cups brown sugar
    1 tsp. salt
    1 cup butter or margarine, melted

    Press into an ungreased 15 X 10 pan. Bake 10 - 12 minutes.

    Sprinkle 3 cups of mixed nuts or salted peanuts over partially baked crust.

    In small saucepan combine:

    1/2 cup corn syrup
    2 Tbsp margarine
    1 Tbsp water
    6 oz. butterscotch chips

    Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. (don't overboil, a little less is better than over doing it). Pour cooked mixture over nuts. Bake 10 - 12 minutes.

    I find these are easier to cut if I line the pan in aluminum foil. I can lift them out of the pan whole, and put the on my cutting board to cut with a long knife. These are great. I hve never made them with peanuts. I always use the deluxe nuts - without any peanuts at all.

    Women are Angels
    And when someone breaks our wings, our spirit, or our hearts...
    We simply continue to fly.........
    on a broomstick...
    We are flexible like that ....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Madison, WI USA
    If it's for your ILs to serve to their guests, I personally wouldn't go with something in the cookie category. Unless it's for a coffee type of activity. If it's meant to be dessert after dinner, and needs to be transported, I'd definitely go the cake route. If you don't have a cake carrier, it could be easily packed in a box for their car

    I recently made a fabulous CL cake that was rosemary & lemon. A nice mix of sweet & savory. Good for either dessert, or a morning treat with tea. I think it would freeze well, altho I haven't tried it

  6. #6
    My first thought was cake too, but my MIL kept suggesting cookies of some sort might be easier for me but I kind of think that it's what she wanted. I'm saving the rosemary lemon cake for a teacher's luncheon coming up in a couple of weeks--I bet they'd LOVE that! My in-laws would really love the salted nut bars. I think I might give that a try in addition to the Pineapple Cheesecake Squares from I just made. I posted the recipe from Anna's site for anyone who might be interested. I tried a corner piece and it was really good and it hadn't even had a chance to cool.

    Pineapple Cheesecake Squares

    1 1/4 cups (190 grams) all purpose flour
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    8 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon orange zest
    8 oz softened cream cheese
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½ cup chopped, candied pineapple or dried sugared pineapple

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil and spray foil with cooking/baking spray.

    Pulse flour, sugar and salt in food processor to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture has the consistency of cornmeal. Add orange zest and pulse once or twice more. Measure out 1/2 cup and set aside. Dump remainder into pan and press into bottom. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Meanwhile, wipe out food processor or switch bowls.

    Process cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add lemon juice and vanilla and process another 30 seconds, scraping sides. Add egg and process for another 30 seconds. Add pineapple and pulse just until mixed. Pour this mixture over baked crust and spread to ends. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool completely, then chill for at least two hours.

    Grasp foil, lift bars from pan and cut into squares.

    Makes about 16 small squares or 12 bars

    I also made the following recipe which I took from this BB but didn't note who posted it. They weren't impressive looking, but tasted great. My MIL just tried one and really liked it. It's got a slightly salty edge with the buttery, nutty, toffee goodness from all the add-ins. The rice krispies gave it a nice and light crispness that's different from a traditional drop cookie.

    Toffee Chip Cookies
    1 c butter -- softened
    1/2 c vegetable oil
    1 c sugar
    1 c packed brown sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 egg
    3 1/2 c flour
    1 tsp cream of tartar
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    3 c rice krispies®
    1 c quick cooking oats
    1 c sweetened coconut flakes -- omitted
    1 c chopped pecans
    1 c toffee bits -- or brickle chips
    Cream butter, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
    Source: "Taste of Home, Feb/March 2002"

    Thanks for the all the suggestions! The poached pears sound delicious too. I think I'll save that for a dinner party I host.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    This cake I love. I've made it many times and always comes out fantastic. You can put as much or as little of the glaze on it or even leave it off. Although it is more impressive with at least a little glaze and twisted thin slices of orange on top. I can't remember where I got it but I assume it's either a Fry's cocoa or a Crisco shortening recipe.

    The Ultimate Orange Ripple Cake

    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons Fry's cocoa
    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup golden Crisco
    2 cups granulated sugar
    4 whole eggs
    2 tablespoons orange peel -- grated
    2 cups plain yogurt
    2 teaspoons baking soda

    2 cups icing sugar -- sifted
    2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh or frozen concentrate)
    1 tablespoon hot water (may need a bit more)

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 10" tube pan with Crisco.

    Combine all ingredients for ripple, using enough cocoa to suit your taste. Set aside.

    - Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
    - Cream crisco, sugar, eggs and orange peel together until light and fluffy.
    - Stir soda into yogurt.
    - Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, making 3 dry and 2 liquid additions, combining lightly after each.
    - Spread half of the batter evenly in greased pan.
    - Sprinkle ripple over batter.
    - Spread remaining batter on top.
    - Swirl with a knife to marble ripple and batter. -- (I use a wooden skewer)
    - Bake at 350° F for 70-80 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
    - Cool 15 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from pan and cool completely.

    - Combine icing sugar, orange juice and enough hot water to make a thick glaze consistency.
    - Spread over top of cake letting it drip down sides.

    Serving Ideas : Garnish with orange slices, if desired.

    NOTES : For an extra moist batter, add 1 tablespoon of water. Follow cooking time carefully. Do not overbake.

    Excellent for freezing.

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