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A Shower of Sweets

June 13, 1996|MAYI BRADY

If you're a woman older than 25, you've probably hosted a bridal shower or two. If you're over 30, chances are you've given more than your share.

I am and I have. I've also learned that you can host an elegant shower for the bride-to-be without having to provide an entire meal.

Dessert showers are the way to go. We all know that the bride probably won't eat much since she has to fit into her beautifully tailored gown, but the other guests will be able to satisfy even the most raging sweet-tooth.

Make the cheesecake the day before along with the tart shell and the custard and you'll be surprised at how little is left to do before the guests arrive. Serve the desserts with coffee, tea and champagne and plenty of fresh summer fruits.

Menu

Grape Creme Bru^lee Tart

Mixed Berry Upside-Down Cake

Lemon Chocolate Cheesecake

Staples

Granulated sugar

Butter

Eggs

Vanilla extract

Shortening

Flour

Baking powder

Salt

Milk

Light brown sugar

Shopping list

1 (1-pound) box chocolate graham crackers or cookies

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

1 (4-ounce) box semisweet chocolate

6 lemons

1 (1/2-pint) container raspberries

1 (1/2-pint) container blueberries

1 (1/2-pint) container blackberries

2 (2-ounce) packages sliced blanched almonds

1 large bunch red seedless grapes

Game plan:

Day before: Make cheesecake; refrigerate. Make tart shell, let stand overnight at room temperature covered with foil. Make custard and refrigerate. Make grape filling and refrigerate but let come to room temperature before using.

2 hours before: Make berry upside-down cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

1 hour before: Assemble grape creme bru^lee tart.

LEMON CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

3/4 cup chocolate graham cracker or cookie crumbs

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese

4 eggs

1/4 cup sour cream

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated peel of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

Combine cookie crumbs and 3 tablespoons sugar in small bowl. Add melted butter and stir to mix well. Press mixture into bottom of 8-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and sour cream and beat again. Pour about 1/3 of mixture into another bowl, add melted chocolate and vanilla and mix well. Add lemon peel and lemon juice to rest of mixture and mix well.

Pour lemon mixture into prepared springform pan, then drop in chocolate mixture by large spoonfuls. Draw knife through chocolate and lemon to form swirled pattern.

Place pan inside larger pan on oven rack. Add 1 inch hot water to outer pan. Bake at 325 degrees until center of cheesecake is almost set, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then chill overnight.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Each of 12 servings contains about:

372 calories; 229 mg sodium; 145 mg cholesterol; 28 grams fat; 18 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 0.02 gram fiber.

MIXED BERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

3 1/2 cups mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)

1/3 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Grated peel of 1 lemon

1/2 cup milk

Melt butter in small pan. Add sugar and cook over low heat until sugar melts. Pour into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Arrange mixed berries on top and set aside.

Beat shortening and sugar in bowl of mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat again. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and lemon peel in small bowl and stir to mix well. Add to mixture alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Pour carefully over berries and smooth top.

Bake at 350 degrees until center of cake springs back when lightly touched, about 45 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes, then remove from pan and invert onto serving platter.

Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

240 calories; 169 mg sodium; 29 mg cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.11 grams fiber.

GRAPE CREME BRULEE TART

CRUST

1/3 cup blanched almonds

3/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch salt

6 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons ice water

Pulse almonds, flour, sugar and salt in food processor 2 or 3 times, until coarsely chopped. Add butter, by tablespoons, to flour mixture and pulse 2 to 3 more times. With motor running, add ice water and process until dough forms ball. Roll dough out to fit 9-inch tart pan. Prick bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate 20 minutes before baking. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool.

CUSTARD

2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring milk and sugar to simmer in medium pot. Combine beaten eggs and yolks in small bowl. Add little hot milk to beaten eggs to temper, then add egg mixture to hot milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until custard thickens. Do not allow to boil. Stir in vanilla and place over bowl of ice water, stirring frequently, until custard is at room temperature. Chill.

FILLING

4 cups seedless red grapes

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Cook grapes, lemon juice, granulated sugar and almonds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until grapes start to soften, about 5 minutes. Let chill.

Fill Crust with grape mixture, then carefully pour cooled Custard on top. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over custard and place under broiler until sugar is bubbly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

237 calories; 113 mg sodium; 122 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 27 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.44 gram fiber.

* Platters and tiered plate holder from Doin' Dishes in Santa monica and Long Beach.

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