The key to a successful dessert party is to serve a menu with a wide variety of things, from cakes and tarts to cookies, custards and frozen desserts, according to Emily Luchetti and Deirdre Pirie, authors of two new dessert cookbooks.
Here are two recipes from "Stars Desserts" (Harper Collins, hardcover, $27.50) by Emily Luchetti. Of the first one, chocolate silk, Ms. Luchetti says, "It has a rich, rich flavor but it's not so rich that you can only eat one bite."
Chocolate silk Serves 10 to 12.
3 ounces toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts
4 ounces toasted and coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
pinch ground cinnamon
4 ounces (1 stick) sweet butter, melted
20 ounces extra bittersweet chocolate
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) soft sweet butter
3/4 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
To make the crust:
Combine the walnuts and pecans with the brown sugar and cinnamon in a stainless steel bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Press the nut mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Refrigerate the crust for 1/2 hour, until firm.
To make the mousse cake:
Melt the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler.
While the chocolate is melting, combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Switch to the whisk attachment and add the eggs 2 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl, increase to medium-high speed, and whip for 2 minutes, until the egg mixture increases slightly in volume.
Whisk the melted chocolate until it has cooled slightly. It should be warm but not hot.
Whisk the chocolate into the egg mixture on medium-low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and continue to mix until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Stir in the cream and vanilla extract.
Spread the mousse filling in the springform pan on top of the crust. Refrigerate the cake until firm, 6 hours to overnight.
To make the topping:
Put the cream and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake.
Unmold the cake from the pan by running a hot dry knife around the inside edge of the pan and then releasing the latch from the springform. Slice the cake with a hot dry knife. (Dip the knife in hot water and then dry it off.)
Lemon squares Makes one 9-by-13-inch pan.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold sweet butter
6 large eggs
3 cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting
To make the crust:
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the flour and the powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add the butter and mix on low speed until mixture is the size of small peas. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Bake the crust for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.
To make the filling:
Decrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and then the flour. Pour the lemon filling on top of the crust.
Bake the lemon bars for about 40 minutes, until the lemon filling is set.
Allow them to cool for 1/2 hour, slice into squares, and dust with the powdered sugar.
Here are two recipes from "Entertaining Desserts" (Houghton Mifflin, hardcover, $30) by Deirdre Pirie:
Carrot roulade Serves eight to 12.
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup kirsch
1 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
royal icing (see below)
confectioners' sugar, for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until they are light in color and thick ribbons form when beater is lifted.
Gently fold kirsch, carrots and almonds into yolks by hand. Mix cinnamon, mace, ginger and baking powder, and sift over top.
Beat whites until stiff, and fold into carrot mixture.
Line a 10-by-15-inch jelly-roll pan with oiled wax paper, and pour batter in. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until puffy and tan on top and firm to touch.
Invert cake onto a smooth dish towel that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar. Gently remove wax paper and replace with a fresh piece. Roll along long axis and cover with towel until cool.
Beat all ingredients for filling together and spread over cake. Roll into a log with seam side down.