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    Throw a Glam Halloween Party with Spooky Sweets and Treats

    Dazzle your guests with a Glam Halloween Party filled with dramatic décor and a spooky menu. An edible spider web croquembouche serves as an eerie table centerpiece. A coffin-shaped charcuterie board overflows with much to savor. Witchy cookie favors are a take home treat that will ensure the magic continues long after the party is over!

    Earlier this year, my friends at invited me to craft a Glam Halloween Party for their lifestyle and entertainment section, complete with festive food, décor, and more! Well. I guess you already know – I couldn’t say yes fast enough! Just thinking about all the goth and glam made my brain light up, and I couldn’t wait to dive in. We spent a big chunk of August giving one end of the workshop a makeover with all the haunted mansion vibes we could find.
    There is much inspiration, and many recipes to explore, along with crafting articles and free printables. Which I’ll link individually in this post. However, I urge you to view the entire slide show right here on There are many more links in the gallery captions to all kinds of Halloween party ideas, costumes – the works!

    The tablescape.
    No doubt about it, I’m a more is more kind of gal. So we absolutely layered this table with velvety and gilded textures, along with some pretty dramatic florals and glittering details. You can read more in the slideshow captions about where we sourced our tableware and décor – on a budget!

    A spider-infested centerpiece.
    Classic croquembouche makes a commanding centerpiece, so I decided to give this French confection a spooky makeover. It’s also a shortcut recipe that uses store-bought profiteroles from the freezer section at the grocery store. Get the recipe for Spiderweb Croquembouche RIGHT HERE.

    Halloween place card holders.
    These Skeleton Hand Place Card Holders were SO FUN to craft using foam pumpkins and skeletal swizzle sticks. They’re not hard to make and there’s a free editable template for the black floral place cards. You can find that tutorial on RIGHT HERE.

    Sparkling sweets.
    I made these Tipsy, Glitzy Chocolate-Covered Strawberries for a New Year’s treat for many years ago. But I felt they’d work perfectly as a gilded treat for this party! So here they are again. Get the recipe for Chocolate-Covered Strawberries and Champagne RIGHT HERE.

    Something to sip.
    Shimmery Scary Cherry Mocktail (or Cocktail) has a secret ingredient that makes it glitter like a magic potion. Find the recipe for Halloween Shimmering Cherry Mocktail RIGHT HERE.

    Creepy crawly wall gallery.
    How fun are these framed glittering specimens? (Honestly, I’m tempted to keep them up as dark academia décor year-round.) It’s not only easy, but thrifty, to make an entire Halloween gallery of wall art using dollar store frames, plastic bugs, and glitter. Get the step-by-step tutorial RIGHT HERE.

    A fancy favor.
    These Fancy Witch Hat Cookies with gilded bands and bat decors make a fun parting gift for guests. And they can be made far ahead of party time because they keep so well air tight. There’s also a free printable tag with a spooky-sweet message – just print and tie on (easy!). Get the recipe and tutorial RIGHT HERE.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed this preview of our party. Again, you can find all the images, recipes, how-to articles, and MUCH more RIGHT HERE on xo-h
    Related recipe: Four Easy Halloween Treats for

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    Peach Bellini Cupcakes

    Peach Bellini Cupcakes are studded with diced fresh peaches, filled with champagne pastry cream, and topped with swirls of fluffy peach buttercream. Cheers!

    Peach season is almost here, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on some fresh peaches a little earlier than usual. Once plucked, there’s a short window of time to enjoy them before they wrinkle up and spoil. So, needless to say, I was pressed to use them quickly. As a result, last Sunday we had peach tea with our brunch and Peach Melba for dessert. Then, the idea for these Peach Bellini Cupcakes came to me as another way to use up fresh peaches. However, you don’t have to use fresh peaches in this recipe – canned are fine too!
    These cupcakes taste absolutely celebratory. Champagne (or prosecco) infuses the cakes and their pastry cream centers. Diced peaches float throughout to cake, and a swirl of fluffy peach buttercream is the finishing flourish.

    Make the batter.
    Start by creaming the butter and sugar together. I used a hand mixer and things turned out just fine. Then add flour and champagne alternately. As usual, begin and end with the flour to build the best texture.

    Dice the peaches.
    Chop fresh peaches fine, to about 1/4 inch dice. You’ll need 2/3 cup of diced peaches, which is about 1 1/4 medium-sized fresh peaches. Again, canned peaches are just fine to use here. Just pat them dry before chopping them and adding them to the recipe.

    Add the peaches to the batter and mix them in using a rubber spatula. If using canned peaches, which aren’t as firm, use a folding motion so they don’t tear or break down.

    Lighten the batter with egg whites.
    Yes – it’s an extra step, but whipped egg whites make the base of this cupcake spongy and soft. Fold them in carefully. Hastily stirring them in will deflate the batter and decrease your overall yield. Mindful, careful folding of the egg whites gives the cupcake a sponge cake texture that holds up well to fillings and frostings.

    Line cupcake tins with papers, and then portion out the batter using a trigger ice cream scoop. I ended up with about 18 cupcakes.

    Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Then cool them completely on a wire rack.

    Champagne pastry cream.
    Ah, my favorite element of this confection! Champagne pastry cream is so delicious and smooth – and it’s not too hard to make. Prepare it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator, if you have time constraints.
    Core the cupcakes using a small paring knife, and save the cut out piece. Fill each cupcake with about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of champagne pastry cream. Using the same paring knife, cut the reserved cake pieces flat to create a ‘lid’ and cover the pastry cream with it.

    Peachy hues.
    The peach-flavored frosting was a color experiment gone right! I wanted it to not only have the flavor of peaches (thanks to LorAnn peach flavoring oil), but the color variation as well. So I whipped up some orangey-peach buttercream and painted two lines of red gel food color inside a piping bag. After the bag is loaded with the buttercream and piped, it creates a pleasing swirl reminiscent of peach peel.
    See the recipe for further instruction, and for the brand and color of gel food color I used to achieve this effect.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve added white nonpareils for a bubbly appearance (see this Cherry Limeade Cake). It’s just the perfect touch to evoke the feelings of a fizzy drink. Pipe the frosting onto a cupcake, and immediately add the white nonpareils. This buttercream crusts, so you must add the sprinkles immediately. If you wait too long, they’ll bounce right off!

    Inspired by the Venice-borne cocktail made with champagne and peach puree, these Peach Bellini Cupcakes hold the same sparkling flavor. Bellini are often served as an accompaniment to creamy, salty or spicy foods. So these cupcakes would make a fine dessert after a big plate of alfredo pasta with focaccia. Or spicy bucatini. However, I think they go with everything. (Especially brunch.)
    Related recipe: Homemade Peach Cobbler in a Cone

    Peach Bellini Cupcakes

    Heather Baird

    Inspired by the Italian Bellini cocktail, these toast-worthy cakes will be the star of your next happy celebration. The cupcakes are infused with champagne or prosecco, and filled with chopped fresh peaches. This flavorful foundation holds pockets of champagne pastry cream inside. The cupcakes are topped with peach-flavored buttercream in peach-peel hues.This recipe calls for fresh peaches, but if they’re not in season, then canned peaches work just fine!For the frosting, you’ll need to purchase a small bottle of LorAnn peach flavoring oil. See links for resources. Or, instead of the oil, you may use 2 tablespoons of peach schnapps.This recipe yields 16-18 cupcakes, more or less depending on how carefully you fold the whipped egg whites into the cupcake batter.

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    Prep Time 20 minutes minsCook Time 22 minutes mins1 hour cooling time 1 hour hrTotal Time 1 hour hr 42 minutes mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 18

    Ingredients  Cupcakes6 large egg whites10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature1 ½ cups granulated sugar2 cups all-purpose flour1 tablespoon baking powder1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt3/4 cup champagne or prosecco or other sparkling white wine2/3 cup fresh peaches 1/4″ dice or diced canned peaches Champagne pastry cream1/2 cup heavy cream divided2 tablespoons cornstarch1 whole egg2 egg yolks5 tablespoons granulated sugar1/2 cup champagne or prosecco2 tablespoons unsalted butter1 teaspoon vanilla extractPeach buttercream
    Instructions CupcakesPreheat the oven to 350F. Line cupcake pans with 18 paper liners. Set aside.In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks; set aside.In another bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In yet another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture alternately with the champagne. Stir in the chopped peaches.Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until incorporated. Then, fold in the remaining egg whites.Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.Champagne pastry creamIn a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and the cornstarch. Whisk in the whole egg and egg yolks. Set aside.Combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar, and champagne in a saucepan; bring to a boil then remove from the heat. Pour 1/3 of the hot champagne mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs do not cook. Return the remaining champagne/heavy cream mixture to a boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.Let cool to room temperature. Cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a skin. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.Peach buttercreamIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture is light, fluffy, and of piping consistency. Add the peach flavor and beat again until incorporated. Add 1-2 drops each of the neon yellow and neon orange food color to the buttercream. Beat until well incorporated, scraping down the bowl when necessary. Add more of each color to intensify the color, if desired. The end result should be a vivid orangey-peach color.Fit a disposable piping bag with a large French pastry tip. Squirt a little of the red food color in a condiment cup. Dip a kitchen-dedicated soft bristle brush into the red food color and paint a line of red food color inside the decorator tip and all the way up the length of the bag. Repeat this step directly across form the first painted line (you could use the piping bag seams for a guide, if your bag has two seams directly across from each other).On a scrap of parchment or paper towel, squeeze a little of the frosting out of the bag until the red color starts to show.AssemblyCore the cupcakes by cutting out a small divot in the centers with a paring knife; save the pieces. Transfer the pastry cream to a disposable piping bag and snip off 1/2 inch hole in the end. Fill each cupcake with about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the pastry cream. Trim the cut-out cake pieces flat to create “lids” and place them onto the filled divots.Pipe a swirl of frosting onto a cupcake and immediately sprinkle a pinch of the white nonpareils on top. Repeat this process with each cupcake until all of the cupcakes are frosted and sprinkled. Just before serving, add a fresh mint leaf to each cupcake.
    NotesThe cake portion of this recipe is adapted from “Bellini Belle Cupcakes” from the book Intoxicated Cupcakes by Kate Legere (2011 Running Press). The buttercream recipe and champagne pastry cream recipe are both original to Sprinkle Bakes.

    Keyword bellini cupcake, canned peaches, champagne pastry cream, fresh peaches, peach bellini cupcakes, peach cupcakes

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    Oat and Stout Skillet Brownie

    Oat and Stout Skillet Brownie is a hearty, rich dessert served warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream on top. Use your favorite stout in this recipe!

    After two long months of cold, rain, and more rain, the March sky has cracked open to grace us with a little sunshine. The light falls differently in our front room, and our four little dogs rearrange themselves on the floor and furniture to take advantage of every patch of sunlight. Even they know that spring is on its way. I’m so ready for outdoor activities, like planting my veggie garden. But it’s still too chilly for that. So I’ve contented myself in the kitchen, testing some cozy recipes – skillet brownie recipes in particular.
    This Oat and Stout Skillet Brownie is wonderfully rich and hearty, and best served warm with vanilla ice cream. And it’s an easy fix! Because making a skillet brownie is just as easy as making a pan of brownies. You just need a heat-proof skillet. Cast iron is preferred, but not a necessity.

    The best beer for brownies.
    Light lagers and ales are fine for cakes, but rich chocolate brownies need a much bolder beer. Dark stouts are brewed with dark roasted malt, and have flavors that stand out against the richness of semisweet chocolate. Here I’m using milk stout, which is sweeter than most other dark stout beers. However, you can use your favorite stout in this recipe. Chocolate stout is a good choice, for obvious reasons!

    Make a reduction.
    Boil the beer and 1 cup of butter together for 10 minutes. During this time it will reduce slightly. This results in condensed beer flavor and gives the butter some toasty notes, too!

    Pour the reduced beer mixture over chopped semisweet chocolate. Let it stand for a few minutes, then whisk it together until smooth and glossy. Let it cool about five minutes.

    Next, mix up some sugar, brown sugar and eggs. Then pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Mix until smooth.

    Sift in cocoa powder, flour, and pour in some old-fashioned oats. Mix all of that together until just combined.

    Pour the batter into a greased 9 1/2-inch or 10-inch cast iron skillet and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    Serve this brownie warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream. The dark, roasty notes of the stout give the brownie new depth of flavor. The oats make it substantial. It’s a lovely shareable dessert after a St. Patrick’s Day feast, if that is on your calendar.

    Quick skillet-toasted oats makes a fine topping, and completely optional. But it gives the brownie another layer of texture and flavor. An easier garnish is a sprinkle of semisweet chips. They melt and become gooey on top of the warm brownie – highly recommend!
    Related recipe: Five Ingredient Guinness Brownies

    Oat and Stout Skillet Brownie

    Heather Baird

    This decadent and highly shareable skillet brownie makes a wonderful ending to a St. Patrick’s Day feast. Or, make it for the beer enthusiast in your life. Use your favorite dark stout in this recipe. milk stout, chocolate stout, Guinness draught – any of these will work.Use a 9 1/2 inch or 10 inch heatproof skillet in which to bake this confection. Cast iron is preferred for crusty edges, but not entirely necessary. These brownies are cake-like and best served warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Instructions for a gooier skillet brownie are in the recipe notes.

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    Prep Time 30 minsCook Time 25 minsTotal Time 55 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment9 1/2-inch heat proof skilletMesh sieve
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Skillet brownie1 cup unsalted butter1 cup stout beer such as milk stout or Guinness8 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped2 large eggs2 large egg yolks3/4 cup granulated white sugar1/4 cup brown sugar packed3/4 cup all-purpose flour1/3 cup unsweet cocoa powder1/2 cup old fashioned oats12 teaspoon fine grain saltToppingsVanilla ice cream for serving1/2 cup toasted oats optional -see recipe notes1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips optional
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a heat-proof skillet with cooking spray.In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and stout. Bring to a boil; reduce heat so that the mixture maintains a constant bubble. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.In a separate mixing bowl, add the chopped chocolate. Pour the hot beer mixture over the chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk together until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Let cool slightly.In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, egg yolks, and sugars. Mix well. Pour in the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix until combined. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the chocolate mixture. Add the oats. Mix on low speed until combined.Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until set.Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. ToppingsGarnish with toasted oats (see recipe notes) and semisweet chips, if desired.
    NotesFor the toasted oats, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a nonstick skillet. Add 1/2 cup old fashioned oats. Toast over medium-high heat until golden brown. Let cool before using as a brownie topping.
    This brownie is cake-like. If you prefer your brownies fudgy and moist in the center, you can under bake it slightly to an internal temperature of 180°F. It is safe to eat but has a gooey interior. Measure the temperature with a probe thermometer for accurate results.
    This brownie is best served warm with vanilla ice cream. Leftovers can be heated up in the microwave at 100% power in 30 second increments.

    Keyword milk stout, oat and stout skillet brownie, semisweet chocolate, skillet brownie, St. Patrick’s Day Dessert, stout brownies, toasted oats, vanilla ice cream

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    Make-Ahead Party Food with Recipes (Sweet and Savory!)

    This menu of Make-Ahead Party Food is pleasing for any dinner party, cocktail party, birthday, wedding reception, and beyond! Featuring both sweet and savory, each appetizer is served in its own shot glass so your guests can grab-and-go while they mingle.

    Christmas is now a memory, and it’s hard to believe the New Year is just days away. Like many of you, I’ve been eating well this week, capturing some fun moments, and generally trying to soak up all the holiday spirit and goodwill before it slips away. So, I wanted to share the little workshop party we held before our holiday break.
    Both savory and sweet, this menu of make-ahead party food requires little cooking, – just some assembly required. These appetizers are adaptable to any gathering, although I find them so cocktail party-worthy!

    Much like My Holiday Open House Menu, I created these appetizers so I could spend more time with my guests instead of being tethered to the kitchen. After years of being both host and cook, I rely on make-ahead recipes. For a cocktail party feel, I love using clear shot glasses to make single servings. They are an inexpensive investment, like this pack of 40 for under $20. And they can be reused forever!

    Everything Bagel Hummus Shots with Grilled Crostini
    This is a good one to make if you have guests that are vegetarian or vegan. Buy prepared plain hummus and stir in some toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and a little garlic powder. Pipe the hummus into the bottom of 15 shot glasses. Then top each with a little Everything Bagel Seasoning just before serving.
    Serve the hummus shots with a grilled crostini standing upright or bagel chips balanced on top. Consider assembling a few with gluten-free crackers on a separate tray for guests with gluten intolerance.

    Marinated Mozzarella
    No cooking, no baking, just assemble and serve! Slice block mozzarella into 1-inch cubes. Then, make a dressing of olive oil, Italian spices, garlic powder, and chopped sundried tomatoes. Mix it all together and add in the cheese; toss to coat. It’s so easy and it looks special. It tastes special, too! The creamy almost blank canvas flavor of the mozzarella is enhanced by that garlicky herbaceous flavor. One tip – be sure to use a good condiment-worthy olive oil!

    Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail Shooters
    This is an easy evergreen appetizer that just requires dressing up some large cooked cocktail shrimp. Bloody Mary mixer is the stand-in for cocktail sauce, which is lighter and so flavorful. Charleston Bloody Mary Mix is my go-to for this appetizer. Add a little to the bottom of each of 15 shot glasses, and top with skewered shrimp that have been finished like any good Bloody Mary – with a squeeze of citrus and a generous grind of black pepper.

    Charcuterie Cones (or Shot-cuterie, if served in shot glasses)
    This cute appetizer is a good segue from our savory fare to the sweet. Why? Because it contains both sweet and savory bites. Include salted nuts, a square of sharp cheese, dark chocolate pieces, dried fruit, rosemary sprigs, artisan crackers, blue cheese-stuffed olives, berry and salami skewers.
    The cones don’t have to match each other exactly. It’s good to make a few veggie friendly cones and gluten-free options. I used biodegradable natural wood cones for serving (along with cone holders), because they hold a little more food than a shot glass. But you can use 3 oz. shot glasses even small Mason jars.

    Citrus Supremes with Prosecco Sabayon
    They say good things come in small packages, and this is especially true for this little bubbly-inspired dessert. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and prosecco in a bowl over simmering water until thickened. It doesn’t take long at all to make a luscious sabayon. As for the citrus, you could spend a lot of time with the messy business of segmenting grapefruits and oranges. Or, you could just buy a big jar of Del Monte’s Citrus Salad. This no-sugar added option does the work for you.
    Layer sabayon into shot glasses and top with the citrus. A few pomegranate arils on top of each shot will make them even prettier.

    Bourbon Ball Ganache Shooters
    And now for something completely different! Skewered bourbon balls are made for dipping into the silky bourbon ganache they’re perched atop. This utilizes my favorite 5 Minute Bourbon Ball recipe. Bourbon balls can be made far ahead of serving because they mellow with time. These were perfect for the holidays but I can’t wait to make them for a Derby Day treat.

    Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce
    Regular blog readers know that panna cotta is my go-to for make-ahead desserts. This particular flavor combination is more for winter holidays. You can find the recipe for it right here. However, if you’re looking for more evergreen flavors, check out this post for White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Orange Chocolate Sauce.
    Make-Ahead Party Food on display!
    I hope you’ve enjoyed this departure from the usual post. The recipe card will include most of the recipes with a couple links to the desserts that already live on the blog. I hope you can use this post as a resource to help increase the enjoyment of your gathering, while minimizing your work!

    Make Ahead Party Food Menu (Sweet and Savory!)

    Heather Baird

    Get a head start on making delicious appetizers for your next gathering. Use shot glasses to portion single servings so your guests can grab-and-go while they mix-and-mingle.Everything Bagel Hummus Shots, Marinated Mozzarella, Bloody Mary Shrimp Shooters, and Charcuterie Cones offer savory flavors. While Citrus Supremes with Prosecco Sabayon, Bourbon Ball Shooters, and Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce round out the party with sweetness.The Charcuterie Cone recipe is for 15 near matching cones; however, I suggest you vary some of the cones to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free guests.Please note that prep and cook time is approximate.

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    Prep Time 2 hrsCook Time 21 mins2 hours chill time 2 hrsTotal Time 4 hrs 21 mins

    Course AppetizerCuisine American

    Servings 15 people

    Equipmentshot glasses 15 for each recipe, 1.5 oz. capacitycocktail skewersToothpicksbiodegradable wood cones optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Everything Bagel Hummus Shots10 oz. plain hummus 1 container1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds2 teaspoons Everything Bagel Seasoning for garnish1/4 teaspoon garlic powder1 baguette sliced into 1/4-inch piecesOlive oilMarinated Mozzarella1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon Italian seasoning1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley1 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes in herb oil chopped1/4 teaspoon garlic powder16 oz. block mozzarella part skimChive sprigs optionalBloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail Shooters15 large cocktail shrimp cooked peeled with tails on1 lime zested and juicedFreshly ground black pepper16 oz. Bloody Mary Mix Charleston recommendedParsley sprigs for garnishCharcuterie Cones6 oz. salted almonds8 oz. dark chocolate bar tablet style for breaking15 Turkish dried apricots15 blue cheese-stuffed olives1 pint fresh berries raspberries and blackberries12 oz. thin cut salami rounds8 oz. sharp cheddar block cubed15 cocktail onions15 sprigs rosemary for garnishAssorted crackersCitrus Segments with Prosecco Sabayon2 cups mixed citrus segments such as Del Monte no sugar added Citrus Salad9 egg yolks1/2 cup granulated sugar3/4 cup Prosecco3 tablespoons pomegranate arils such as POM wonderful POM-POMSBourbon Ball ShootersBourbon Ball Recipe prepared to fit inside shot glasses1 cup semisweet chocolate chips1/2 cup heavy cream1 tablespoon bourbonEggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce (linked)
    Instructions Everything Bagel Hummus ShotsCombine the hummus, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix well. Place in a piping bag or zip-top bag with the corner snipped. Pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons of hummus into the bottom of each of 15 shot glasses. Place all of the glasses inside a 9×13 baking pan with sides taller than the height of the shot glasses. Cover with plastic wrap until party time.Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil. Drizzle a nonstick grill pan with olive oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Grill bread slices on both sides and set aside to cool. When cool, place bread in a zip top bag and store until ready to serve.1 hour before serving, sprinkle each hummus shot with a little bagel seasoning. Stand a baguette slice upright into the shot glasses. Place shot on a tray and serve.Marinated MozzarellaCombine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Cube the cheese small enough to easily fit into shot glasses. Add the cheese cubes to the olive oil dressing and toss to coat.Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. The marinade may solidify a little due to the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. This is normal. Allow the bowl to stand at room temperature until the marinade loosens. Stir to coat.Skewer 2-3 cubes of marinated mozzarella on toothpicks and place inside 15 shot glasses. (You may have leftover cheese cubes, which can be placed in a bowl near the shot glasses with toothpicks for guest refills.) Place the shot glasses in a deep 9z13 inch baking pan taller than the shot glasses. Cover with plastic wrap. Before serving, add 1-2 sprigs of chives to each glass, if using. Spoon some of the marinade in the bottom of the bowl over the cheese cubes in each glass just before presenting.Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail ShootersPat shrimp dry with a paper towel. Place on a shallow plate. Drizzle with lime juice and zest. Grind black pepper generously over the shrimp. Place one shrimp threaded onto fifteen 4” cocktail skewers. Cover with plastic wrap until party time.Pour Bloody Mary mix into fifteen of 1.5 oz. shot glasses, approximately 1/3 of the way up the glass. Top each glass with a skewered shrimp and garnish with a parsley sprig. Present on a serving tray or tiered stand.Charcuterie ConesDivide salted almonds between the bottom of the cones. Place a square or two of chocolate into each of the cones. Add apricots. Thread olives and salami on skewers. Thread two or more berries onto some skewers. Stand skewers upright into each cone. Add a cube of sharp cheddar to each cone.Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Add artisan crackers to each cone or have them on a platter nearby.Citrus Segments with Prosecco SabayonPat citrus segments dry with paper towels. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until ready for assembly.In a stainless steel bowl over simmering water, constantly whisk the egg yolks, sugar and Prosecco until mixture reaches 160° and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap so that it rests on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Make this up to two days ahead.Divide sabayon evenly between 15 shot glasses. Top with citrus segments and garnish with pomegranate arils. Serve with small cocktail or demitasse spoons.Bourbon Ball ShootersSkewer bourbon balls with a 4-inch long cocktail skewer. Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature.Combine the semisweet chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat at 100% power in the microwave for 1 minute. Let stand 1 minute. Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms, then stir in the bourbon. Store in a lidded jar in the refrigerator until party time.Before serving, heat the ganache in the microwave until liquid and pourable, about 45 seconds (heat in 30 second intervals). Divide ganache into the bottoms of each of 15 shot glasses. Top each with a skewered bourbon ball for dipping. Consider including small demitasse spoons so guests may enjoy every last dop of bourbon ganache (plastic silver cocktail spoons are available at most dollar stores!).
    NotesTo further shortcut the hummus recipe, Boar’s Head makes a prepared Everything Bagel Hummus which is gluten-free and vegan.
    Make room in your refrigerator ahead of time! The beauty of make-ahead doesn’t come without one caveat; you will need lots of refrigerator space. 
    Using heavy-bottomed real glass shot glasses adds a nice touch. These are inexpensive and can be reused. I’ve linked in the blog post a set of 40 for under $20. You may also search thrift stores and charity shops for shot glasses that cost even less!

    Keyword bloody mary shrimp cocktail, bourbon balls, charcuterie cones, citrus sements, easy appetizers, everything bagel hummus, finger foods, make ahead party food, marinated mozzarella, panna cotta, prosecco sabayon, shot glass appetizers, shot glass desserts, shrimp cocktail

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    Christmas Dessert Board

    Learn how to make a crowd-pleasing Christmas Dessert Board! Build your own board around a homemade touch, while adding semi-homemade and store-bought treats.

    ‘Tis the season for lots of sweets! And what better way to serve them to a crowd than with an abundant, filled-to-the-brim dessert board? I was asked by my friends at to create a guide for building a board that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day. This assembly holds everything your party guests could ask for, including scratch-made shortbread cookies, rich layered cheesecake bars, and a host of semi-homemade and purchased sweets.

    One dough, three cookies!
    This scratch-made cookie is perfect for filling up real estate on a large dessert board. And who doesn’t love shortbread? Whip up one barely sweet shortbread dough and divide it into three portions. Then, add sweet or savory ingredients to each dough. Toffee-chocolate chip, orange-cranberry, and savory smoked cheddar jalapeno cookies are all made from the same dough! Get the recipe at at this link: Gift or Enjoy: Endlessly Customizable Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe.

    Layered cheesecake bars.
    This is another homemade touch that will really make your dessert board special. Cheesecake bars are classic, but this recipe gives them a twist. Make three flavors of cheesecake from one pan of cheesecake bars: Peppermint Patty, Cookies ‘n Cream, and Pecan Pie. Get the tutorial and recipe on Endlessly Customizable Layered Cheesecake Bars.

    Semi-homemade treats.
    Some ready-made sweets just need a little dressing up for the holidays. Crushed peppermint and holiday sprinkles can make ordinary sweets look magical! And they’re easy to put together (kids can help!). Find instructions to make these treats in the photo gallery on

    Purchased sweets.
    Seek out colorful and beautiful ready-made ingredients to make your board extra-festive. You can’t go wrong with Sconza’s Holiday Jordan Almonds. I admire this company so much, because they take such care to make all of their sweets beautiful – so you can take them straight from the package and add them to your arrangement. I also used their Milk and White Chocolate Cherries and Gingerbread Toffee Mixed Nuts.

    Christmas Dessert Board
    The photo gallery on has all the information on how to put your own board together, including choosing a board, using containers, and styling tips for a gorgeous spread. See it all in a clickable slide show HERE on
    Related recipe: The Ultimate Southern Brunch Board with Homemade Pimiento Cheese

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    Homemade Peach Cobbler in a Cone

    For a handheld take on a classic spoon dessert, try Homemade Peach Cobbler in a Cone! It’s so fun to serve at picnics and summer barbeques.  

    Summer peaches are in season, and that means making lots of homemade peach desserts. They taste like a bite of pure summertime. This Peach Cobbler in a Cone is 100% more fun than peach cobbler in a bowl. The idea came from an article I read about a food truck in Florida serving peach cobbler in waffle cones. Kind of genius, right? (For those interested, it was NuNu’s Sweet Soul Food – I can’t find the cones on their current menu, but I’ll take one of everything else, please!)
    Since I won’t be traveling to Florida any time soon, I decided to make my own version at home. It’s so fun to serve and even more fun to eat! Portable peach cobbler is practically made for summer barbeques. My homemade version comes à la mode, because I always have a scoop of ice cream with warm cobbler.

    Start with a stick of butter.
    First, preheat the oven. Then melt a stick of butter in an 8×8 inch baking pan in the preheated oven. This will take about 3-5 minutes.

    While the butter melts, mix up the batter. It’s made of simple pantry staples and can be whisked together in a snap.

    Fresh, frozen, or canned?
    Use any of the above when it comes to this cobbler. You’ll need about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of peaches, which is about 5 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced. Thaw frozen peaches and measure 2 1/2 cups in a glass measuring cup. The same goes for canned peaches (drain them first!). It usually takes two 16 oz. cans but the amount of peaches inside each can will vary between manufacturers.
    If using fresh or frozen, toss the peaches with sugar. You can first taste-test the sweetness and add more or less to your personal taste. Canned peaches will need very little if any extra sugar.

    Layer the ingredients.
    Pour the batter over the melted butter. That looks like a lot of butter, doesn’t it? Trust me, it all works out in the end.

    Then pour the peaches on top. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of ground cinnamon. The batter and peaches will trade places in the oven as the cobbler bakes. Pretty neat!

    While you wait for the cobbler to bake, dress up some waffles cones with melted white chocolate and cinnamon-sugar.

    Let the cobbler cool. Then get to stuffing those cones! You can serve this warm or at room temperature. It’s so good warm with ice cream on top.

    Speaking of ice cream, top the cone with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (or your favorite flavor – caramel would be amazing). Then pile on more cobbler. You could forgo the ice cream altogether and make it a strictly cobbler cone. However, it’s hot as blazes here in the south, so we won’t be skipping it.

    The sweet vanilla bakery scent and crunch of the waffle cone combined with sweet peaches and sticky cobbler crust? How could that ever be a bad thing? And topped with ice cream – get outta town. Crazy delish.
    I think we can all agree that Homemade Peach Cobbler in a Cone is the best way to enjoy peach cobbler in summertime. Kids will love it. Everything is more fun in an ice cream cone!
    Related recipe: Fried Peach Shortcakes

    Homemade Peach Cobbler in a Cone

    Heather Baird

    When you’re craving a taste of summer, try this easy homemade peach cobbler that’s served in a cone. Ready-made waffle cones can be found at the grocery store near the frozen foods section. Use your favorite ice cream flavor for serving. Vanilla bean is classic, but caramel or even coffee ice cream would be a wonderful accompaniment.Recipe readers: The cobbler batter recipe contains no eggs. This is not a mistake.This recipe serves 6-8, depending on how much ice cream you use to fill the cones. You can, of course serve this cobbler straight from the pan instead of serving it in a cone. See the recipe notes on how to use any kind of peach you may have on hand. Fresh, canned, or frozen.

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    Prep Time 20 minsCook Time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 20 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American, Southern United States

    Servings 6

    Equipment8×8 inch baking panIce cream scoop
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Peach Cobbler1/2 cup unsalted butter3/4 cup all-purpose flour1 1/4 cups granulated sugar divided2 teaspoons baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt I like fine grain sea salt3/4 cup whole milk1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 1/2 cups sliced peaches1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon.Waffle cones1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar6-8 ready-made waffle cones4 oz. white chocolate meltedAssembly1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream for serving
    Instructions Peach cobblerPreheat the oven to 350F.Place the stick of butter in an 8×8 inch baking pan and melt in the oven, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven once the butter is completely melted.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk and vanilla. Whisk until a consistent pourable batter forms.Toss the peaches with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.Pour the batter over the melted butter, then top with the peaches. Sprinkle on the ground cinnamon. (As the cobbler bakes, the crust will rise to the top and the peaches will sink to the bottom.)Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the crust is browned and well set. Remove from the oven and let cool to warm.Dipped waffle conesIn a small bowl, stir together the ground cinnamon and sugar; pour on a shallow plate. Place the waffle cones on a large sheet of parchment paper. Dip the top edges of the cones in the white chocolate.Roll the edges of the cones in the cinnamon-sugar. Let stand until set, about 10 minutes, or place in the refrigerator to speed setting.AssemblyBreak apart the pan of cobbler with a spoon.Fill cones with cobbler to the top edge of the waffle cone. Top with a scoop of ice cream, then top the ice cream with more cobbler. Serve immediately. Cobbler cones can be served warm or at room temperature.
    NotesUse canned peaches: Drain two 16 oz. cans of canned peaches and place them in a glass measure. You should have 2-2 1/2 cups of peaches. (Some internet sources say one 16 oz. can = 2 cups of peaches. Technically, this is not true. The weight includes the juice – be sure to get 2 cans.) Omit tossing the peaches with 1/4 cup of sugar. Canned peaches in syrup are sweet enough.
    Use frozen peaches: Thaw 16 oz. bag of frozen peaches completely in the refrigerator overnight before using. Toss with sugar as directed.
    Use fresh peaches: Peel and slice about 5 medium fresh peaches; toss with sugar as directed.
    Make ahead: Coat the inside of the cones with melted white chocolate. This will keep the cones from becoming soggy over time. You’ll need two 4 oz. bars of white chocolate to generously coat all 6-8 waffle cones. Let stand until set, Fill cones with cobbler and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and top with ice cream before serving.
    Leftover cinnamon-sugar from dipping the cones can be sprinkled on top of each assembled cone.
    The real food innovators are food truck chefs, if you ask me. This recipe was inspired by  NuNu’s Sweet Soul Food (truck), purveyor of southern specialties.  With thanks to them, I formulated this recipe for home bakers.

    Keyword easy, fresh peaches, handheld desserts, July Fourth desserts, peach cobbler, summer dessert, vanilla ice cream, waffle cones

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    A Vegetarian Farmers Market Brunch for

    Throw The Ultimate Vegetarian Farmers Market Brunch! Turn your veggie haul into the season’s best brunch dishes.
    Spring Vegetable Frittata
    A few weeks ago, I loaded up my car with all the spring produce to make (and shoot!) A Vegetarian Farmers Market Brunch for The scene was just perfect all around with temperate, sunny weather and big teakwood table on which to display all of our dishes.
    I’ve developed four delicious brunch recipes – both savory and sweet – along with instructions for an all-inclusive spring cheese board. I’m including some teasers and links in this post, but you can view the entire gallery right here.

    Fresh and Savory.
    Spring vegetable frittata (lead image) is such an easy main dish to make, and incredibly versatile. Take full advantage of all the tender new asparagus at the market, and don’t be afraid to pivot the ingredients as we move into summer months. Serve it with my Arugula Salad with Homemade Orange Poppy Seed Dressing.

    Roasted New Potatoes with Spring Herbs is another side dish I developed to perfectly compliment the frittata. It’s hearty and filling, yet light with a citrusy note. Serve the potatoes over a bed of spring greens for additional herbaceous flavor.

    Okay, this cheese board –swoon. It’s got a lot going on, and all of it is wonderful! The Ultimate Vegetarian Cheese Board ‘recipe’ is more of a guide for selecting spring cheeses. (Did you know cheese can be seasonal?). With it, we’ve added lots of other ingredients, such as comb honey, candied nuts, preserves, and lots of crunchy spring veggies for dipping.

    Here we’ve made a slightly smaller version of the cheese board to fit on a tabletop! A platter works well in place of a large serving board.

    The sweet stuff!
    What’s brunch without pastries? These Strawberry-Rhubarb Scones take advantage of rhubarb’s short season, and have buttermilk tang. I usually find scones to be quite dry, but these have a tender, moist crumb. My recommendation? Split one while warm and slather in butter!

    Lemon and blueberries together? You just can’t go wrong! Especially if those flavors are wrapped up in sweet yeast dough and baked farmhouse-style in a cast iron skillet. Get the Cast Iron Lemon-Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls right here. (Side note, developing this recipe inspired me to create these strawberry sweet rolls!)

    Special thanks to my colleagues (and friends!), a.k.a. the team that made this happen! HGTV editor and stylist Camille Smith, (Get her Strawberry Shrub recipe right here) stylist and art director Jill Tennant, and stylist and crafter Ann Nelson.
    View the entire gallery of brunch images at this link on
    Please note: Some of you may not be able to view these recipes on due to geo-blocking, which is a necessary security measure. Unfortunately I can’t change this, but I’d be happy to send the recipes to those who comment below (just fill in your email address – it will stay private!).

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    Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes

    Make Movie Night even more fun with Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes! Buttery yellow cupcakes are topped with popcorn-flavored Swiss meringue buttercream and garnished with crunchy theater-style popcorn.

    I’ve always loved experimenting with the flavor of popcorn in my sweets and baked goods. Back in 2014, when I was writing Sea Salt Sweet, I developed a silky, salty-sweet Buttered Popcorn Panna Cotta (page 147, for those that have it). Corn is sweet by nature, and already holds buttery notes. I think the flavor works remarkably well in desserts.
    Today I’m adding another to the recipe index: Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes. They have true butter popcorn flavor, in a Willy Wonka’s Candy Factory kind of way. Or if you’re a fan of Jelly Belly’s Buttered Popcorn Jelly Beans? Well then. These are the cupcake version!

    The flavor makers.
    Start with my butter yellow cupcake recipe as the base for this confection. Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs, then add in the magic ingredient: Buttered Popcorn Flavoring Oil. Fat is an excellent carrier of flavor, so mixing it in at this stage with the butter ensures it will disperse well throughout the batter.

    Add the dry ingredients and mix well until a thick pale yellow batter forms. Then scoop the batter into the cavities of a lined cupcake pan. This recipe makes exactly 12 cupcakes.

    This step is optional, but I couldn’t help myself. I lightly brushed the top of each cupcake with melted salted butter. This just creates another layer of buttery flavor.

    The right buttercream for the job.
    Swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect choice for these cakes, and I’ll tell you why. It does not crust like American buttercream does. When a frosting ‘crusts’ it means the outer layer sets and becomes un-sticky. The popcorn garnish needs to be added just before serving so it’s nice and crunchy. Frost these cupcakes well ahead of time with the Swiss buttercream, and the frosting will keep its freshly piped texture. Well enough to hold on the popcorn just before you serve them to guests.

    Pop your own corn, if you’d like. But the color and flavor of this prepackaged Brim’s ‘Movie Theater Butter” popcorn is a ringer for the real thing! I love it, and it’s made right here in Tennessee, too!

    Pipe a big double swirl of buttercream on top of each cake and top with a handful of popcorn. I used a large open star pastry tip, which is Ateco 828.

    You can find the super-cute ‘TICKET’ cupcake wrappers right here, and the red and white stripe cups here.

    Adventurous eaters and fans of Jelly Belly’s Buttered Popcorn Jellybeans will love these cupcakes! They’re perfect for family movie night. Or bookmark this recipe for next year’s Oscars viewing at home.
    Check out my (award-winning!) Olive Oil Jalapeno Cornmeal Cake with Candied Citrus, if you’re just dipping a toe in to experimenting with corn flavor in desserts. It’s a good gateway to popcorn in desserts, and a wonderful ending to any meal.

    Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes

    Heather Baird

    Amaze your friends with the true flavor of buttered popcorn in cake form! Buttered Popcorn Cupcakes are delicious buttery treats that are perfect for the big game or family movie night. Please note, the Swiss meringue buttercream uses salted butter in this recipe, to convey the flavor of salty buttered popcorn. You may have buttercream left over if you don’t pipe a big double swirl as pictured. You may opt to halve the buttercream recipe if you plan for a more modest amount of frosting.

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    Prep Time 20 minsCook Time 20 minsTotal Time 40 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12 cupcakes

    EquipmentCupcake pan12 cupcake liners6 “ticket” cupcake wrappers optional6 red and white stripe baking cups optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cupcakes1/2 cup unsalted butter softened3/4 cup granulated sugar2 large eggs at room temperature1 dram bottle LorAnn Buttered Popcorn Flavor .125 oz1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperatureSwiss meringue buttercream and garnish4 large egg whites1 cup granulated sugar1 1/2 cups salted butter at room temperature1 dram bottle LorAnn Buttered Popcorn Flavor .125 oz.Yellow gel food colorOrange gel food color3 cups prepared movie theater style popcorn such as Brim’s
    Instructions Yellow butter cupcakesPreheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the buttered popcorn flavor. Scrape down the bowl and mix to incorporate once more.In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the creamed mixture. Begin and end with flour, and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and fold together any bits of remaining butter or flour by hand.Using an ice cream scoop, or a 1/4 cup measure, divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes or until they spring back when pressed in their centers. Allow them to cool in the pan for 3 -5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.Buttered popcorn Swiss meringue buttercreamPlace a saucepan filled 1/3 full of water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.In a large stainless-steel bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over the simmering water and cook while whisking intermittently. Cook until the mixture is hot (110°F) and you can no longer feel sugar granules when the mixture is rubbed between your finger and thumb. Transfer the hot mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 10 minutes or until a thick, shiny meringue forms that holds stiff peaks. The bowl should feel cool to the touch. If it doesn’t, refrigerate the meringue in the bowl for 10 minutes. Return the bowl to the mixer and swap the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment.Beat the room temperature butter into the meringue one cube at a time on medium-low speed, waiting to add the next cube when the previous cube disappears. The batter will deflate with the butter addition, and may even look curdled (if the butter was the slightest bit cold this happens), but this is normal. When all of the butter is added, beat the mixture on high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the buttered popcorn flavor. Add drops of yellow gel food color until a bright yellow hue is achieved. Add 1 or 2 drops of orange food color to bring the hue closer to the color of theatre style buttery popcorn. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until fluffy and the color is consistent.Place the buttercream in a large pastry bag fitted with a large French piping tip, such as Ateco #828. Pipe a large double swirl of buttercream on top of each cupcake. Don’t top cupcakes with the popcorn until just before serving.Just before serving or displaying cupcakes, top each with a handful of crunchy theater style popcorn. The popcorn will become hydrated over time, so serve within an hour of garnishing.
    NotesOptional step: While the cupcakes are still slightly warm, brush their tops with a little melted salted butter. This adds an extra layer of buttery flavor. About 2 tablespoons will be more than enough.
    Use your favorite ready-made popcorn for this recipe, or you can pop your own. I love prepackaged Brim’s movie theater-style popcorn for this recipe.
    Swiss meringue buttercream video tutorial can be found in this blog post. 

    Keyword butter cake, buttered popcorn, movie night, swiss meringue buttercream, yellow cake

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