As you might remember from a couple weeks ago, I was throwing a baking party to raise money for my girls’ school. I posted a little teaser saying I would have more details later. I did not intend for it to be this much later but that is what happened. So, here we are. Now for the details.
I was so very excited to throw this party. There were a lot of elements to it but I just knew it was going to be so much fun! Here is what we did:
1. I baked 3 desserts from scratch before everyone arrived.
2. Together, attendees and I made the same 3 desserts but with A LOT of store bought help.
3. We taste tested the homemade vs. hacked desserts to compare them.
4. I paired each dessert with a wine.
My goal for this party was to have fun, teach people an easy way to make a few desserts even if they “can’t bake” and help them plan for their own parties. For example, if you are having a dinner party and serving fish or chicken you will most likely serve white wine. If you are serving white wine with dinner, serve it with dessert too. Just pick a dessert that goes with white wine. Get it? Let’s get to the desserts…
Our first dessert was Apple Crostata. As you probably know by now I don’t care much for pie but for some reason I LOVE a crostata. If you don’t know what a crostata is it is just a pie crust folded over the fruit (instead of using a pie plate). Another term is Galette. Galette is the French term; Crostata is the Italian term. Whatever you call it, it is delicious and easy and I like the rustic look better than a perfect pie.
I made the scratch version. Really the only difference between the from scratch version and the store bought version was that I made the crust. We used a refrigerated pie crust for the “hacked” crostata. This was the most time consuming dessert we made mainly due to all the apples. But man, is it delicious. I am a huge fan of refrigerated pie crust. But, when you compare the crusts side by side I must admit you can REALLY tell a difference. Thankfully, it was homemade crust for the win but if you don’t have time for that… BUY THE CRUST and still impress your guests.
Crostata was paired with champagne. Actually sparkling wine but you get the point. I popped open a few bottles of Korbel Extra Dry and we all dug in. Champagne is delicious with apples or any fruity dessert. This would also pair beautifully with hot tea. So just remember fruit = bubbles or tea.
The second dessert we made were Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies. I had the best peanut butter cookies ever at my best friend’s wedding. They were in the goodie bag thing you get when you check into the hotel. Now, I didn’t even like peanut butter that much at the time, but I couldn’t just leave cookies laying around after someone went to all that trouble. So I ate the cookie. AMAZING! One of her mom’s friends made the cookies and several people asked for the recipe, including me. She was so nice to share it but I did not ask if I could share the recipe with you so… sorry. But, I do have a way to “hack” those amazing cookies.
As before, I made a batch from scratch. Then when everyone arrived I opened a refrigerated package of Reese’s Peanut Butter break and bake cookies (available at my Target). To be honest I had never bought those before so it could have all gone very wrong but luckily, it didn’t. So, we took our cookie chunk, rolled it around the “chewy surprise” and baked the cookie.
These were also a hit. And I must admit, even though the homemade ones were better, this dessert came closest to the real deal. I paired these cookies with Les Charmes Chardonnay. There is just something about white wine and peanut butter that really works. I think these cookies would go great with several different beers too but I’m not enough of a beer drinker to advise on that. If you want an alternative beverage you gotta go with milk. There’s nothing like milk and cookies!
Remember the example above of a dinner party with fish or chicken… serve peanut butter surprise cookies for dessert! (recipe below)
I meant to take a lot of pictures of the night but by this time, pictures weren’t really a priority so… not so many pictures.
Our third and final dessert was Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache. I’m hoping you have all made ganache by now. It was one of the very first recipes I ever posted on my blog. If you haven’t, now is the time. Ganache is your dessert work horse. You can use it in multiple ways and it is SOOOOO easy to make. You can do plenty with the leftovers too (or you can just eat them with a spoon like me).
So I made Black Cake with Chocolate Ganache (pg. 128 of your cookbook) before everyone got here. I bought an uniced, single layer chocolate cake from Walmart for $7.48. At a lot of places if you buy an uniced cake you will get a discount on the price so be sure to ask! That is not, however, the case at Walmart. So I unwrapped the cake, placed it on a cooling rack over a baking sheet and one of my guests poured the ganache we made at the party over the store bought cake. So easy! And if you buy uniced cupcakes you can just dip them in the bowl of ganache. Done. Work horse!
Ganache makes everything delicious but there is simply no comparing the cakes. Black Cake is the one cake to rule them all. The chocolate cakes were paired with Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvingnon. Chocolate and red wine are a classic combination. You can’t go wrong. The alternative beverage was coffee (but milk would be really good too).
As you are already pros with ganache I thought I would share the hacked cookie recipe. I’m saving the apple crostata for one of my future cookbooks (Garlic & Olive Oil: Bakes).
Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
Serves as many as you make
Refrigerated Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (ex. Reese’s Break and Bakes or log of Pilsbury)
10 oz box of Milk Duds
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Break off or scoop out about 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter cookie dough.
Place 1 Milk Dud in the center of the dough and roll into a ball; place on prepared cookie sheet.
Repeat until you have made the desired number of cookies, making sure they are spaced about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes in oven or until light golden brown.
Remove cookies to a cooling rack and let cool.
Pairing: White Wine (Chardonnay) or Milk
Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
- 1 pkg Refrigerated Peanut Butter Cookie Dough ex. Reese’s Break and Bakes or log of Pilsbury
- 10 oz box of Milk Duds
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Break off or scoop out about 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter cookie dough.
- Place 1 Milk Dud in the center of the dough and roll into a ball; place on prepared cookie sheet.
- Repeat until you have made the desired number of cookies, making sure they are spaced about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes in oven or until light golden brown.
- Remove cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely.