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Come Party With Me: Holiday Cocktail — Menu (Sweets)

When planning a holiday cocktail party, don't forget the desserts! Since some guests are bound to have a sweet tooth, set up a small buffet of sweet treats when you set up the savory appetizers. Guests can nibble on cheese and chocolate. Fill bowls with Christmas M&M's or Hershey's kisses.

Don't serve a cake or pie because slicing and plating it is more work for you. Instead, offer one-bite sweets that guests can help themselves to. Mini black bottom cheesecakes are decadent and delicious. The raspberry jam adds a punch of festive color. Homemade chocolate truffles are easily prepared in advance. For the recipes to these delectable desserts, please

Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes
From Food and Wine magazine

Vegetable oil spray
24 plain chocolate wafer cookies, preferably Nabisco
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup fromage blanc (6 oz.), at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves, warmed

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with foil-baking cups and spray the cups with vegetable oil spray.
  2. In a food processor, crush the chocolate wafer cookies. Add the butter and process until fine crumbs form. Spoon the chocolate cookie crumbs into the prepared baking cups and press with the bottom of a glass to compact.
  3. Bake for 5 minutes, or until almost set. Leave the oven on.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the fromage blanc, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. Pour the cheesecake batter into the baking cups, filling them three-quarters full.
  6. Bake the cheesecakes for 15 minutes, or until slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and spread 1 tsp. of the warmed raspberry preserves on top of each cheesecake. Transfer the muffin tin to the freezer and chill the cheesecakes until set, about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the cheesecakes from the pan and peel off the foil baking cups. Transfer the cheesecakes to a platter and serve.

Makes 12.

Make ahead: the mini black-bottom cheesecakes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Substitution: Instead of the fromage blanc use crème fraîche, goat cheese, lebneh, or quark.

Chocolate Truffles
From Martha Stewart

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
8 ounces best-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
Five strips 1-inch-wide orange peel, pith removed
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
1/2 cup finely chopped assorted nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, and pistachios

  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together cream and cardamom. Add orange peel; bring just to a boil. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment; set it and another pan aside.
  3. Return cream mixture to heat; bring to a boil. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Remove cream mixture from heat. Pour through a sieve set over chocolate; discard solids.
  4. Stir until melted and smooth.
  5. Pour chocolate mixture onto the unlined baking pan, and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula. Transfer baking pan to freezer; chill chocolate until hardened but malleable, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Using a tablespoon, scrape enough chocolate from pan to form a roughly shaped 1-in. ball, being careful not to press too hard against baking pan. Repeat. Transfer balls to the parchment-lined pan; chill truffles in the refrigerator 10 minutes.
  7. Place the confectioners' sugar, the cocoa powder, and the chopped nuts in three separate bowls. Roll the truffles in desired coatings.

Makes 12.

Make ahead: uncoated truffles can be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for one week.

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