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Host a holly jolly party

Posted: December 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Snowflake shortbread cut-outs, mint chocolate chip truffles, chocolate raspberry chip truffles, parmesan pepper spritz crackers, merry mushroom bites and savory southwest donuts

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When it comes to celebrations, there’s no season quite like the holiday season. The celebration experts from Wilton share party tips and irresistible recipes to help create a fabulous cocktail buffet complete with all the trimmings.

“It looks like it would take lots of time and effort, but it really doesn’t,” says Nancy Siler, vice president of consumer affairs at Wilton. “We’ve worked out all the details to make it easy, elegant and delicious.”

Siler suggests setting up a beverage station so guests can serve themselves, or recruit a friend to help prepare and serve your signature cocktails — sugar-rimmed cheery cranberry mojitos and colorful all aglow melon-tinis that twinkle with sparkle gel. And for a warm beverage choice, offer rich, thick hot chocolate garnished with frosty snowmen, peppermint curls or chocolate candy-coated marshmallows.

“When it comes to the food, a mix of savory and sweet is a must,” Siler adds. “Tree-shaped merry mushroom bites and tiny savory southwest donuts piped with avocado to resemble a wreath will wow both the eye and the palate. For another unexpected twist on tradition, stack peppery spritz crackers in a clear glass canister.”

For more holiday recipe and decorating ideas, visit www.wilton.com.

Parmesan pepper spritz crackers
Makes about 7 dozen crackers
    1-1/2     cups all-purpose flour
    1/2     teaspoon cracked black pepper
    1/2     teaspoon ground white pepper
    1/2     teaspoon salt
    2     cups (about 8 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
    1/2     cup (1 stick) butter, softened
    2     cloves garlic, finely minced
    1/3     cup milk

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In small bowl, combine flour, black pepper, white pepper and salt.
In large bowl, beat cheese, butter and garlic until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture to cheese mixture. Mix until dough forms a ball. Gradually add milk, mixing until fully incorporated. Shape into small logs and place in cookie master ultra II. Using desired disk, press crackers onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.
Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet on cooling grid. Remove from sheet and cool completely.
Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Merry mushroom bites
Makes 24 bites
    1/3     cup diced yellow onion
    3     tablespoons butter
    12     ounces portobello or baby portobello mushrooms, coarsely diced
    4     teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
    1-1/4     teaspoons black pepper
    3     eggs
    3     tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1-1/4     teaspoons salt
    1     package (4 ounces) water or other favorite crackers
    1/2     cup sour cream
    1/2     red bell pepper, thinly sliced
        Chopped rosemary or parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare bite-size silicone tree mold with vegetable pan spray. In large skillet, cook onion and butter over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, rosemary and black pepper; cook until liquid has evapo­rated, about 10 minutes; cool slightly. Transfer mixture to food processor. Add eggs, flour, and salt. Pulse until mixture is pureed with no large pieces of mushroom or onion. Fill cavities of silicone mold completely with mushroom mixture, patting flat. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until top of the mush­room mixture is firm. Cool in pan 15 minutes; carefully remove and place on cracker. Top with sour cream, sliced red pepper and, if desired, rosemary. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Savory southwest donuts
Makes about 36 mini donuts
    1     tablespoon ground paprika, divided
    1-1/2     cups cake flour
    1-1/4     teaspoons baking powder
    3/4     teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2     to 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
    1/2     teaspoon salt
    3/4     cup milk
    1     egg
    2     tablespoons vegetable oil
    1     garlic clove, finely minced
    2     tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Topping
    1     ripe avocado
    1     teaspoon lime juice
        Salt to taste
        Additional chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray mini donut pan with vegetable pan spray. Lightly sprinkle wells with some of the paprika.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cumin, chili powder and salt. In second bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil, garlic and cilantro.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until flour is moistened. Fill each donut cavity about half full.
Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched.
Let cool in pan 4 to 5 minutes before removing. Wash pan, dry thoroughly and prepare with pan spray and paprika. Repeat with remaining batter. For topping, mash avocado with lime juice and salt; stir until smooth using a whisk or in a food processor.
Pipe avocado mixture over top of cooled donuts. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.

All aglow melon-tinis
Makes 1 cocktail
        Wilton red sparkle gel
    2     ounces green melon liqueur
    1     ounce lemon     flavored vodka
    1     ounce bottled sour mix
    2     ounces club soda
        Maraschino cherries (optional)

Squeeze Wilton Red Sparkle Gel around the inside of a martini glass.
In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine melon liqueur, vodka, sour mix and club soda; shake well. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

Cheery cranberry mojitos
Makes 1 cocktail
    6     fresh torn mint leaves, plus additional sprigs for garnish
    1/2     lime, cut into four wedges
    1     tablespoon dried cranberries
    2     tablespoons Wilton red colored sugars, plus additional for garnish
    2     ounces rum
    3     ounces cranberry juice
    2     ounces club soda

In tall glass, thoroughly muddle mint leaves, lime wedges, cran­berries, and red sugar. Add rum, cranberry juice and club soda and stir. Add ice and additional club soda to fill glass.

Peppermint blitz hot chocolate
Makes about 4 servings
    1     quart (4 cups) milk
    1     cup (about 6 ounces) Wilton dark cocoa candy melts, chopped
    1     teaspoon vanilla extract
    3/4     teaspoon peppermint extract
    3     ounces chocolate liqueur (optional)
    1     ounce peppermint liqueur (optional)

In a large pot over medium-low flame, heat milk and Candy Melts, whisking frequently, until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in extracts and liqueurs, if using.
Garnish with peppermint sticks or curls or snowman deco­ra­tions and serve immediately.

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