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Bubble-Themed Cocktail Parties, Because Why Not?

Your plans for the evening are up in the air, in the best kind of way: a bubble-themed party. Shimmery and playful, bubbles are naturally festive, making them the perfect theme for a variety of celebrations, including a New Year’s bash, an engagement cocktail soiree, or a birthday party. Here you’ll find everything you need for an elegantly effervescent party. The menu makes a nod to bubbles’ shape and iridescence, with salmon roe and cucumber rounds and a cake topped with nonpareils. And the crafts and decorating projects elevate basic, affordable supplies into something extraordinary: a chandelier of cascading spheres, a wall festooned with pearlescent ballons, and a cake stand that appears to be bursting with bubbles. So round up your guests, stock up on Champagne, and prepare for a very bubbly evening.

The Invitation

This three-layer invitation is evocative of a cluster of bubbles. To re-create it, download clip art, embellish with glitter, and assemble with clasps. As your guests arrive, give them vials of bubble liquid (with a wand attached) and watch everyone turn into kids again as they blow away.

Get the Invitation Clip Art

Get the Bubble Invitation How-To

Related: 14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

Bubble-Themed Cocktail Parties, Because Why Not?

The Bar

When making a toast, raise a coupe of Champagne or a glass of fizzy rum punch, kept cold with balls of frozen melon. Chill other beverages with ice balls that have been tinted with aperitifs and molded in special trays. A bubbly backdrop can be created by filling clear balloons with iridescent colored glitter.

Rum Punch with Melon Balls

Frozen-melon scoops take the place of ice cubes in this rum-spiked fruit punch and add pops of color and sweetness.

1 melon (honeydew or cantaloupe)
2 1/4 cups fresh pineapple juice
1 1/2 cups light rum (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 limes)
2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
2 liters ginger ale

1. Make melon balls (about 3/4 inch each) using a melon baller. (You should have about 2 cups.) Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and freeze, about 1 hour.

2. Stir together pineapple juice, rum, lime juice, and bitters in a punch bowl. Slowly add ginger ale, being careful not to disperse the bubbles too much. Add frozen melon balls. Serve immediately.

Related: 22 Chicken Dinner Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes

The Table

Create a setting that abounds with bubbles. Decorate with candlesticks topped with glass orbs and buckets full of them. At each setting, tie a ribbon around a folded napkin as with a gift, and tie it to another piece of ribbon attached to a small helium ballon. Balloons overhead add to the celebratory feel.

The Hors D’Oeuvres

Have a ball with the appetizers, offering an assortment of flavors and textures. Cool salmon-roe-and-cucumber toasts, cheddar cheese balls infused with ruby port and coated in ground almonds, and delicate gougeres are shown.

Cucumber and Salmon Roe on Toasts

The classic tea sandwich gets a new look: This open-faced version combines bursts of salty salmon roe and tender, juicy cucumber.

10 thin slices white bread
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon creme fraiche or sour cream
1 English cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 ounces salmon roe

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly toast bread on a baking sheet until just beginning to crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool.

2. Meanwhile, stir together cream cheese and creme fraiche until smooth. Make about 80 small cucumber balls using a mini melon baller (1/2 inch) or a Parisian scoop.

3. Arrange toasts on a work surface. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture onto toasts. Cut each toast into 3 rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter. Divide 1 ounce salmon roe among half the toasts. Top remaining toasts with cucumber balls and remaining ounce salmon roe. Serve immediately.

Related: 47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen

Aged-Cheddar and Port Cheese Balls

Cheese balls aren’t usually described as sophisticated, but this aged cheddar version –– which reveals swirls of port inside –– is refined enough to fit right in at cocktail hour.

1/4 cup ruby port
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces aged cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely ground

1. Bring port to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook until reduced by about half, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.

2. Pulse 3/4 cup cream cheese and the cheddar in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Pulse remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream cheese with reduced port in food processor until smooth. Gently stir port mixture into cheddar mixture using a wooden spoon until just swirled together. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Transfer almonds to a plate. Shape cheese mixture into 3 balls of various sizes; roll each in almonds to coat. Let cheese balls come to room temperature before serving.

Related: Pucker Up: 25 Ways to Get Sweet on Rhubarb

Blue Cheese Gougeres with Caramel and Salt

Anyone torn between their salt-loving and sweet-craving sides will love these blue-cheese pastry puffs that are dipped in caramel and sprinkled with coarse salt.

For the Gougeres
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
Table salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white if needed
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Coarse salt, for sprinkling

For the Blue Cheese Filling (makes about 1 cup)
5 ounces crumbled blue cheese (1/3 cup), room temperature
10 ounces mascarpone cheese (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper

For the Caramel
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

1. Make the gougeres: Bring water, butter, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in flour using a wooden spoon, and return to medium-high heat. (This mixture is called a panade.) Dry panade, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. It is ready when it pulls away from the sides and a film forms on the bottom of the pan.

2. Transfer panade to the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Raise speed to medium. Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until batter is smooth and shiny. It is ready when a string forms when you touch it with your finger. If a string does not form, the batter needs more egg: Lightly beat in remaining egg white a little at a time until a string forms. (This is called pate a choux.)

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trace 25 circles onto each of 2 pieces of parchment using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, spacing 2 inches apart. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray, and top each with parchment, traced side down. Transfer pate a choux to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch round tip, and pipe rounds onto parchment, using traced circles as your guide. Smooth peaks with a moistened finger, rounding tops to ensure even rising. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Bake gougeres until pale golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets set on wire racks.

5. Make the blue cheese filling: Beat blue cheese and mascarpone in the clean bowl of a mixer on medium-low speed until well combined. Reduce speed to low, and beat in heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

6. Transfer filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/8-inch round tip. Insert tip into bottom of each gougere, and fill.

7. Make the caramel: Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystal from forming. Cook, without stirring, until caramel turns dark amber, about 10 minutes.

8. Remove from heat, and set saucepan in ice-water bath to stop sugar from cooking. Immediately dip the top of each gougere into caramel, and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt. (If the caramel hardens as you work, reheat over very low heat until it loosens.)

The Desserts

End the evening with bubbly sweets: a mocha cake covered in nonpareil truffles, fluffy coconut cupcakes, and effervescent Champagne parfaits.

Mocha Bubble Cake

Jolts of cocoa and espresso flavor every layer: the filling, the frosting, the truffles are all infused with mocha.

Unsalted butter, for pan and parchment
1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Assembling the Cake
Mocha Buttercream and Mocha Pastry Cream
Mocha Truffles
1 tablespoon 3 mm pearlized white-sugar pearls, plus 1 tablespoon 4 mm pearlized white-sugar pearls (fancyflours.com)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep), and line with parchment cut to fit. Butter parchment, and dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat with mixer on low speed until just combined.

2. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

3. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 37 to 39 minutes. Let cool in pans set on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert pans to remove cakes. Transfer cakes, right side up, to wire racks. Let cool completely.

4. Assemble the cake: Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create even surfaces. Place 1 cake on a cake stand or a large round platter. Transfer half the mocha buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8-inch plain round tip. Pipe buttercream around edge of cake to create a dam. Spread 1 cup mocha pastry cream over top of cake inside dam using a small offset or rubber spatula. Top with 1 cake, and repeat to cover top with buttercream and pastry cream. Top with remaining cake.

5. Spread a thin layer of buttercream (about 1 cup) on stacked cake to seal in crumbs, starting at the top and then frosting the sides, using a large offset spatula (this is called a crumb coat). Use spatula to smooth surface as much as possible. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1 hour.

6. Transfer remaining buttercream to pastry bag. Apply another (thicker) layer of buttercream (about 2 cups), starting at the top and then frosting the sides using a large offset spatula. Smooth top with spatula, then smooth sides with a bench scraper. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

7. Mound truffles onto center of cake. Sprinkle sugar pearls onto cake around truffles.

Coconut Cupcakes

You’ll need two batches of frosting to decorate all of these coconut-studded cupcakes, but be sure to make each batch separately. The frosting will start to harden if not used immediately.

For the Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine unsweetened coconut flakes, finely ground in a food processor
2 teaspoons baking powder
Salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large egg yolks, plus 5 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

For One Batch of the Seven-minute Frosting (Makes About 4 Cups; Enough for 12 Cupcakes)
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, room temperature
Garnish: large unsweetened coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cupcakes: Line 2 standard muffin tins with baking cups. Whisk together flour, ground coconut flakes, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with coconut milk, beginning and ending with flour, beating well after each addition.

2. Whisk egg whites in a clean bowl of a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form (do not overmix). Working in 3 batches, gently fold egg whites into cupcake batter.

3. Divide batter evenly among baking cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake until cupcakes are pale golden and centers spring back when touched, 18 to 2o minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

4. Make the first batch of seven-minute frosting: Heat 3/4 cup sugar, the water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cook until syrup reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.

5. Meanwhile, beat egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. With machine running, add remaining tablespoon sugar.

6. Once syrup is ready, immediately remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl into egg-white mixture. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat until mixture is completely cool and stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.

7. Immediately frost half of the cupcakes, each with 1/3 cup frosting, and garnish with 1 or 2 teaspoons large coconut flakes. Prepare another batch of frosting, and frost remaining cupcakes.

Rose Champagne Gelee and Tapioca Parfaits

For the Simple Syrup (Makes About 1 Cup)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

For the Champagne Gelee
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
1 bottle (750 mL) rose Champagne, chilled

For the Vanilla Bean Tapioca
1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
2 cups water, plus more cold water for soaking tapioca
1 cup whole milk
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use
1/2 cup sugar
Coarse salt

1. Make the simple syrup: Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Let cool.

2. Make the Champagne gelee: Place cold water in a small bowl; sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat 1/4 cup Champagne in a small saucepan over medium heat (keep remaining Champagne chilled). Whisk in softened gelatin until dissolved. Stir in 3/4 cup simple syrup. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and set in ice-water bath to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes (do not let cool longer, because it will begin to firm up).

4. Gently stir remaining Champagne into gelatin, being careful not to disperse the bubbles too much. Slowly and gently pour mixture into 10 medium narrow-rimmed glasses, filling each halfway. (It is important to use glasses that taper at the top with narrow mouths, or too many bubbles will escape before the gelee has a chance to set. For best results, fill the glasses gently at the end, making sure to agitate the bubbles as little as possible.) Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

5. Make the vanilla bean tapioca: Soak tapioca in cold water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water, milk, and vanilla seeds to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat. Let stand for 20 minutes to infuse.

6. Return vanilla mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and stir in sugar and a pinch of salt. Drain tapioca through a sieve, and add to vanilla mixture. Reduce heat to low, and gently simmer until tapioca starts to become transparent, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool.

7. Spoon 1/2 cup tapioca mixture over each glass of Champagne gelee. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

The Favors

Send your friends home with a sweet reminder of the fun. Package easy-to-make oversize chocolate nonpareils in plastic boxes lined with rounds of iridescent cellophane. Fill a plastic sphere with cellophane and round candies. Piled high in a large footed glass bowl, they almost appear to be floating.

In these dessert parfaits, tapicoa sits atop a gelee that sparkles with suspended Champagne bubbles.

Get the Chocolate Party Favor Packaging How-To

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