Hello and welcome to the second half of June. Where did the first half go? One week of vacation and two weeks of meetings, doctors appointments, a little painting (last Friday’s post), two birthdays (my son’s and mine), and here we are. I know I said that I would share with you the best caprese salad that we had on vacation in Scottsdale and I will. But today I wanted to share a really fun event that I participated in last weekend. I was asked by a friend of a friend to provide the food and teach a cooking class for a bridal shower. I’ve done this type of party several times before and I love being a part of the bridal festivities. Several friends of the bride’s mother planned the entire party and acted as hostesses. They were all wonderful to work with and really did a great job with the flowers, tablescape, invitations and favors.
The hostesses made the beautiful flower arrangements. The tea cups at the base of the tall vases belong to the mother of the bride. Isn’t that a sweet idea?
The turquoise tablecloths set the tone and theme of the party. Obviously, this picture was taken before any food was laid out.
We used the tall glasses for the signature drink, the Pretty Pink Punch. We filled the glasses with ice added the punch, which was pretty and pink, and added the cute straws. I brought my silver punch bowl and the hostesses filled it with Topo Chico mineral water. They also had iced tea with fresh mint.
I prepared the food on Thursday and Friday and brought the dishes and equipment early before the guests arrived. Here is the menu:
Pretty Pink Punch
Roasted Baby Potatoes with Tapenade
Grilled Bread with Eggplant and Basil
Polenta Bites with Caramelized Porcini Mushrooms Cicchetti
Brownie Bites with Ganache
I’ve made all these dishes many times – never try a new recipe for a party without testing it first! So I knew that they would be perfect for the event. And, since I would be teaching a cooking class, each one had to have “teachable” moments. In the next few weeks, I’ll share some of the recipes and how-to’s with you. All these dishes are about presentation as well as taste. Let’s start today with the Brownie Bites with Ganache, one of my favorites. This approach takes an ordinary square brownie to the next level. I love small foods, especially for parties, just one or two bites, no silverware required. What’s fun is to take a regular recipe, such as a brownie and make it extra special. Although you can use another brownie recipe, this one is really good, a perfect combination of fudgy and cakey. You can find the complete recipe on the Recipe Page.
Here’s some tips for making the brownies:
These brownies are made by melting semisweet chocolate with butter in a stainless bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Then Dutch-processed cocoa powder and sugar are added and combined, and vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
Next, comes the flour and salt.
Finally, miniature semisweet chocolate chips are stirred in. I used Ghirardelli chocolate. Whatever size baking dish you use, line it with foil and allow plenty of overhang. I ALWAYS line my baking pans with foil and allow for plenty of overhang. This way you can lift the brownies out of the pan and you don’t lose any corner pieces. This applies for making lemon bars or any recipe that you will cut into squares or rectangles.
Here are the baked brownies. Because I doubled the recipe, I used a half sheet. Now here is the fun part.
Use a 1 1/4-inch cooking cutter and cut out rounds. I like the 1 1/4-inch size because it is just a bite. Cut as close together as possible. Push the cutter straight down, give it a little twist and lift up. Then it’s easy to push the brownie bite out. If you preparing the bites for a sit-down meal, you can use a larger cooking cutter; you will just have fewer servings. DO NOT throw this away! You can eat what’s left out of hand (They are addictive.) or crumble over ice cream.
As you take the rounds out of the cookie cutter, place them on a half sheet pan.
The original recipe called for placing the brownie bites on a rack and pouring the Ganache over them. That’s what I’ve always done, but it’s messy, you have to scape up the Ganache that falls through,and you lose some. So I tried a different approach, which worked so much better.
I used a long skewer to pick up the brownie bite from the bottom, dipped it in the warm Ganache almost to the bottom, and then I carefully returned it back to the rack. You will get a little chocolate on your fingers so have a paper towel handy.
Here, I’m demonstrating the technique at the party. This method was so much better in every way. When I finished icing all the brownies, I placed them in the refrigerator overnight to set. The next morning it was easy to place the brownies in plastic cake ball holders to transport to the event.
At the party, I garnished the tops of the Brownie Bites with a combination of finely crushed Graham crackers and toasted pecans. You could also use pistachios or hazelnuts. Always, always garnish your dishes. That’s what makes them pretty.
You can always add a little dollop of whipped cream or a raspberry on top. Be creative and make it your own! I hope enjoy them.