Last Wednesday I hosted an Arbonne party for a friend who just became a rep. She was eager to get started so when she contacted me, we scheduled the event for about two weeks before the date. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem for me. But it just so happens that July was one of the wackiest months I’ve had at work in a long time. So I really had to do everything at the last minute!
I did leave work a little early that day (yes, with permission) so I could get things ready. I had already decided to do desserts because we were kicking things of at 7:00 pm. What goes well with sweets? Champagne, naturally!
With the limited time I had, I knew that most things would have to be from the store and not from my own two hands. I hit the jackpot with some specials one of the local grocery store chains was having!

My dessert table consisted of cherry and chocolate donut holes (10 cents each!!), some chocolate/cheesecake treats that were in the bakery case and a pudding/pound cake/strawberry/Cool whip dessert I made up. For as easy as it was the pudding and pound cake dessert looked impressive. I’ll add the super-simple directions at the end. But first, I want to let you know why this easy menu impressed my guests.

It’s all about the basics. Basic serveware, that is! Nice trays and bowls make an enormous difference in the presentation of food – no matter how easy the food was to make. If you enjoy entertaining, I believe serveware is essential to have in your party planning pantry. A couple platters and bowls will go a long way. Throw in a cake platter and a tiered buffet server and you’ll add some nice dimension to your table as well. If you’re just starting your collection, go with white and/or glass (clear). I like to use a mix of both. Later on, you can always purchase and add in pieces with a little more flair. Here are some great places to get started without breaking the bank:

Bed Bath & Beyond
CB2 (these are so on my wish list!)

Now onto that A-mazing dessert of mine! Here’s what I used:
Bakery fresh pound cake
Instant chocolate pudding mix (and the skim milk you would use to make it)
Cool whip

First, I made the pudding according to those handy directions on the package. I divided the finished product between five dessert cups and put those in the refrigerator to let the pudding set.
While waiting for the pudding to be ready, I sliced the pound cake into about 3/4 inch slices.
Then, I washed and sliced up most of the strawberries. I held a few back for garnish.
Out came the chilled and set pudding cups!
I put two slices of the pound cake in each cup, threw in some strawberries and topped with Cool Whip. I made a small cut in the remaining full strawberries and added one to the rim of each cup (you’ll see in the picture that I have a little bit to learn about the proper placement of garnishing cuts!).

The compliments I received for the dessert were completely disproportionate for the amount of work it took me. I hope you get the same results!

Event planners and foodies have been watching a potential trend shift in the dessert world. Geeky, I know. After a long reign; another sweet may be challenging the cupcake as supreme confection.
It appears that the macaroon (macaron is proper French spelling) is appearing everywhere. The macaroon is a cookie-like treat made from egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar. According to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery website, “This classic French pastry filled with rich buttercream has been adored for centuries. Precise baking produces a cookie that has a light and crisp outside and a soft and chewy inside. These two textures are what make the macaron such a special confection.”

Mmmmmm. credit

You know the shake-up is a big deal when NPR sees fit to report on a pastry.
“Her (Amanda McClement of Metrocurea) argument about the rise of the colorful little almond-and-air cookies included the following: that the show Gossip Girl has fetishized the macaroon in a manner reminiscent of the way Sex and the City launched a cupcake boom; that Starbucks recently carried a limited edition of macaroons; and that white-hot designer Jason Wu (who designed Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown) recently baked them in an issue of Food & Wine magazine. Plus, McClements says, she’s just seeing them everywhere.”

The story goes on to interview people taking a macaroon-making class. The pastry requires technique that can be difficult for the amateur baker to master. I know I wouldn’t try them!

So, will macaroons become the go-to pastry for weddings and events? Our love affair with the cupcake has been going on for some time. Enough that cupcakeries are established small business in many areas. Locally, my personal fave is Carefree Patisserie. In addition, the cupcake is an accessible treat that anyone can try at home. And with custom toppers and wrappers permeating parties (have you seen this?!)- cupcakes are not going away anytime soon.