Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Progressive Dinner

Last night we participated in another fun progressive dinner with our neighbors. We hosted the dessert portion of the dinner. It was such a fun evening with great friends and food. If you've never participated in a progressive dinner, I highly recommend it. This week has been crazy for us so I had to throw our part together in a mad dash. Despite the craze, I think it all turned out well. We had a hot chocolate bar, chocolate peppermint mousse cups, a wreath cake, fruit with eggnog dip, peppermint bark and dark chocolate bark with smoky almonds and sea salt, an assortment of Christmas cookies and a few store bought cream puffs. The cookie and bark recipes are below in my blog. I really loved the filling for the peppermint mousse cups. It was light but had a great mint taste. This filling would make a great accompaniment to the wreath cake I have pictured. Next time I make these, I will probably just buy the pre-made chocolate cups. The eggnog dip was a fun way to incorporate eggnog into the party. The dip needs to be made well in advance so the flavors can meld. If you follow just the first step of cooking the eggnog you get a wonderful eggnog pudding that would be great served with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg or a nice addition to a holiday trifle.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
Recipe Source: Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
5 1/2 cups fat free milk, divided (I used whole milk)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 14 oz can fat free sweetened condensed milk (I used regular)
1 3 inch cinnamon stick

For toppings I chose:
Mini marshmallows
WS Peppermint Snow
Chocolate Candy Canes
Chocolate Chips
Whipped Cream

Place cocoa in slow cooker. Gradually add 1 cup fat-free milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Ad remaining fat free milk, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk, stirring with whisk until well blended. Add cinnamon stick. Cover with lid; cook on low-heat 4-8 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Stir well with whisk before serving.

Peppermint Mousse Cups
Source: Pillsbury Holiday Appetizers and Mini Desserts

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white vanilla baking chips
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 drops of red food color
2 tbsp crushed candy canes (about 6 miniature candy canes) (I used WS Peppermint Snow)

1. Line 24 mini muffin cups with petit four paper cups. In 1 quart saucepan, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the chocolate into each paper cup. With back of small measuring spoon, spread chocolate up sides to within 1/8 inch of the top. Chocolate should be warm enough to spread. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until completely set.

2. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave vanilla baking chips uncovered on High 1 minute. Stir in 3 tbsp whipping cream; microwave about 30 seconds longer until chips are melted. Stir in peppermint extract and food color. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Carefully, remove paper cups from chocolate chips.

3. In medium bow, beat remaining whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold melted vanilla chip mixture into whipped cream. Spoon or pipe whipped cream mixture into chocolate cups. Refrigerate before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle with candy.

Eggnog Dip
Source: Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

1 1/2 cups refrigerated eggnog
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp light rum (optional)

Combine eggnog and cornstarch in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing directly into mixture. Cool 2 hours in refrigerator.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; add sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream, sour cream and rum, if desired, into eggnog mixture. Cover and chill 6 hours. Serve with fresh fruit.

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