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40+ make-ahead appetizers, the secret weapon of smart hosts

Come Party With Me: Wine and Chocolate Tasting — Menu

What's on the menu at a wine and chocolate party? Chocolate of course! Have a selection of — sweet and savory, homemade and store-bought — chocolate treats. A variety of chocolate bars is a nice start especially when complemented with chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate covered nuts, and cocoa nibs. Surprise guests with a pair of homemade chocolate appetizers: savory chocolate napoleons and chocolate and brie paninis. To take a look at these recipes,


Savory Chocolate Napoleon
From Jacques Torres

Bittersweet chocolate, tempered
For the filling:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper

  1. Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/8-inch-thick layer of tempered chocolate over a sheet of acetate. When the chocolate begins to set but is not yet hard, use a sharp paring knife or rolling cutter to cut 1-inch squares. When the chocolate is set, peel off the acetate and break apart the chocolate squares.
  2. Place the softened cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the chives, paprika, salt and pepper and turn the mixer on medium speed. Mix just until combined.
  3. Place the cream cheese mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.
  4. Pipe a dollop of the cream cheese onto a chocolate square. Top with a square of chocolate. Pipe another dollop of cream cheese and cover with another square of chocolate. Voila!

Makes 40 napoleons.

Chocolate and Brie Panini
From Giada De Laurentiis

12 slices sourdough bread
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

  1. Preheat the panini grill.
  2. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Grill the bread slices until they begin to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the panini grill and place 2 ounces of cheese on 1 slice of bread (the bottom half), top the cheese with 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and a sprinkle of basil. Top with another slice of bread. Continue with the remaining sandwiches.
  4. Return the sandwiches to the panini grill until the chocolate begins to melt, about another 2 minutes.
  5. Cut the sandwiches into 2-inch wide rectangles or small triangles and transfer to a serving platter.

Serves 6.

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