Figuring out what to make for dessert when planning an evening with friends always presents a dilemma for me. Don’t get me wrong – I love sweet things. But honestly I’d rather have a piece of good, dark chocolate than, say, a decadent slice of cake or pie. Grilled or poached fruit? Right up my alley. I am often too full for anything but a few bites of a bona fide dessert.
Luckily, I can find inspiration for such decisions easily and often ideas come from my favorite muses – my family! When my sister stayed with me recently she brought a large piece of fresh honeycomb from her travels to Savannah. She then proceeded to make a dessert platter to mimic one she was served in Georgia. Sadly, my refrigerator contents were not up to par – I had been traveling to the Midwest and not had ample time to restock my cheese stash. So she demonstrated as best she could: we drizzled some fig-strawberry balsamic reduction onto a plate (any type of balsamic that is syrupy would work), cut a 1 ½ inch piece of honeycomb oozing with honey onto one side, made a pile of thinly sliced Italian Parmesan cheese on the other (she really wanted to use good blue cheese but alas…), and piled some fresh berries in the corner. We stacked some homemade seeded crackers into a glass, added broken pieces of bittersweet chocolate, a bit of fig jam, fresh pistachio nuts in the shell, some dried apricots and voila! Heaven on a plate.
We took a homemade cracker (next time I will make them with some dried diced cherries) and topped it with some jam or honey and cheese, then ate the other components with our fingers. I plan to use this type of dessert platter to follow a rich, filling meal. I might slice some tart apples, and try various cheeses and nuts just for variety! And if you want to make your own balsamic reduction (which I highly recommend) – here’s a link to a great recipe.
This type of platter can also be made and used as an hors d’oeuvres plate- just incorporate more savory items: cubes of smoked or fresh cooked salmon, blanched vegetables, pepperonata to name a few. We actually had this as dinner recently prior to a 7:30 midweek play! So many options… I encourage you to let your mind go wild. Root around in your refrigerator. Making hors d’oeurvres or dessert platters can be much more fun than just serving a hunk of cheese or a slice of cake!