Do you hate having to choose between two desserts? Or are you full by the time you get to the end of your entree but you still need just a little something sweet?
I always want chocolate. Who wouldn't want layer upon layer of fudgy deliciousness? But then I get tempted by bread pudding or a Cracker Jack sundae. (Yes, that's a thing-YUM! But I digress.)
Fortunately, a current restaurant trend is mini-desserts where you get to choose two or three options. Now that's my kind of program! But why should restaurants have all the fun? This idea is totally doable for you!
Pretty much any recipe can become a mini-dessert. When you think about it, cupcakes already are one. The most difficult thing is to find small cups. But that actually isn’t hard either. Some even come with tiny spoons. Speaking of spoons, sometimes they are used as the serving vessel themselves. Of course, many of us would want to eat at least five spoon fulls.
A particularly southern take on this idea is the duo of banana pudding and pecan pie bars. Last summer, we hosted a low-country boil. Wanting it to feel very “down-home”, I used Ball mason jars as a motif. For those unfamiliar with the canning world, it may be news to you that the jars come in all sizes, including really small ones that were perfect for a modest serving of banana pudding.
There are two schools of thought on banana pudding: whipped cream topping or meringue. We are of the latter. Using Paula Deen’s recipe, which is the best, I made the custard in a large batch then layered it with the bananas and Nilla Wafers in the individual jars. It may seem like the assembly was tedious but it really did not take much longer than doing it all in one big pan.
For the topping, I whipped the meringue then put it in a Ziplock bag. Next I cut off a corner and piped the contents onto each pudding before browning them all in the oven.
Even though Better Homes and Gardens had a very cute packaging idea for their Pecan Pie Bars, I wanted to keep to the mason jar theme going so the lids became tiny pie pans, perfect for this recipe. One of the beauties of using these is that the bottom and sides separate so you can pop the contents out, in theory, anyway.
In my last blog post I mentioned that it was really important to do things in advance in case there is a hiccup. These mini-pies were a perfect example of that. If I would have just served them straight out of the lids, the guests would have needed icepicks to pry them out, no lie. Fortunately, I dodged that bullet by releasing them from the lids while they were warm. Afterwards, I returned them to the lids for serving. To gild the lily, chocolate sauce was served along with them. It is very hard to have dessert with no chocolate at all.
Think outside the box: candy in a spoon! Or inside the box: chocolate pudding! Look through your favorite recipes, choose two or three, buy some tiny cups or spoons, and give your guests something to "oooh" and aaah" about. You can do it!