Six Party-Friendly Dessert Ideas

Originally published on SBS.

Stumped on what to make for your next gathering? Here are some suggestions, just in time for the festive season.

It can be tricky deciding which dessert to make, but here we explore some options that are more likely to please a crowd than others. Not just for their taste, but considering factors like simplicity, durability and dietary friendliness.

1. Speed: clafoutis

A clafoutis is an excellent dessert for guests and hosts alike who are short on time. It’s a baked French dessert where fruit sits within a flan-like batter. As the batter is relatively mild, you can choose to make it with most kinds of fruit, such as this apricot and lemon version. Berries also work well, as per this cherry and raspberry clafoutis.

Most clafoutis recipes require about 15 minutes of preparation and 40 minutes of cooking. They survive well in a car, seeing as the dessert is set within a dish. Serve with a sprinkling of icing sugar, cream or ice-cream.

2. The best of all worlds: trifle

A trifle always brightens up a table, a dessert that well and truly says ‘party’ thanks to its grandeur and distinctive layers. Trifles are also a great solution for people who are torn on what dessert to eat – it allows people to enjoy jelly, custard and cake all at once. 

This aromatic French-inspired trifle brings together honey, lavender, pistachio and walnuts. Another new take is a Turkish-delight trifle with rosewater and pistachios. 

3. Inclusivity: flourless chocolate cake

If the priority is getting most people at a gathering to eat dessert, a flourless chocolate cake is a wise choice. This version by Anneka Manning accommodates a broad range of people – it’s not only gluten-free but dairy-free, made with cocoa powder and olive oil. Topped with a dairy-free ganache, it takes a standard flourless cake to another level.

4. Sweet and savoury: knafeh

Throughout the Middle East is the popular dessert knafeh, often served during festive occasions like Eid. It’s traditionally made with a stringy, noodle-like pastry called ‘kataifi’, nabulsi cheese and sweet orange-blossom syrup. Knafeh is commonly topped with nuts and/or cream.

Nabulsi cheese is difficult to find in Australia, so people tend to substitute it with mozzarella. It’s a knockout dessert with a unique texture and flavour balance, and (we’ll bet you) one that most people in Australia haven’t tried. Serve it warm for that extra level of comfort.

5. Please a crowd: pavlova

Donna Hay’s pavlova is a trustworthy recipe that allows for all kinds of adaptations when it comes to the topping (however, you can’t go wrong with seasonal fruits).

The meringue comprises just four ingredients and it’s reasonably quick to make. It involves 20 minutes of preparation, an hour in the oven, a little time to cool and about 10 minutes of decorating with whipped cream and your chosen topping.

6. Something cool: semifreddo

By cool, we mean both in temperature and in general. Semifreddo is an underrated frozen dessert and an efficient way to serve something special.

If you don’t have time to pour the semifreddo mixture into single-serve moulds, make a giant version in a bowl and serve it in giant scoops. 

This frozen summer fruit recipe is suitable for Australia’s festive season. For something more savoury, take a look at Kirsten Tibballs’ peanut butter and white chocolate version.

Featured image credit: China Squirrel.

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