Dessert for Dinner!
Calling all sweet lovers and serial entertainers: Dessert-only dining, longtime purview of prix fixes and specialty boutiques, will be your new favorite get-together theme. Equal parts strategy and irreverence, this trend is worth re-creating at home — and we’ve got all the party tips and menu ideas you need to get started.
Far from a cop-out, a sweets-only menu lets dessert escape the shadow of ambitious (and filling) mains, so push yourself beyond basic Bundts and cleansing sorbets. After all, life’s too short not to eat dessert first — or only.
Planning: What’s the (Sugar) Rush?
The key to a leisurely, balanced non-meal is pacing. We recommend three courses: one to awaken the palate, one to wow the senses, and one to gently fill any remaining stomach space. We’ll share a few different options for all three — feel free to mix and match your favorites.
Strategy: Eat Sweet, Look Sharp
This is not the time for family-style comfort food or towering showstoppers meant for a crowd. Embrace plating, embellishments, individual servings, and multicomponent recipes you might otherwise deem too fussy to end a big meal. After all, all eyes will be on dessert.
Related: 14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas
First Course: Taste-Bud Pick-Me-Up
Mini Ginger-Almond Cheesecakes
No fancy pans are required to make these mini cheesecakes: they’re made in cupcake tins. Plus, only the crumb crust is baked, so the filling simply needs to be chilled.
1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs (from about 30 cookies)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sliced blanched almonds (optional), toasted
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 10 standard muffin cups with cupcake liners. In a food processor, pulse together cookie crumbs, granulated sugar, salt, and butter until combined. Divide crumb mixture among cupcake liners, firmly pressing into bottoms and up sides. Bake until crusts are browned and fragrant, 10 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack at room temperature.
2. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and almond extract and beat until smooth. In another medium bowl, with clean beaters, beat cream on high until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir one-third the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture, then gently fold in remaining. Divide mixture among cooled crusts and refrigerate until set, 1 hour (or up to overnight). To serve, top with almonds if desired.