Why Canapés Should Be Constructed With Care And Simplicity

Canapé is a word that's laced in elegance. The finger food of choice for cocktail parties, canapés are luxuriously delicious morsels that — you better believe — are constructed with the utmost attention to detail. Whether it's a smoked salmon-draped blini or an oyster-topped toast, there's a reason why these bite-sized delights are created the way that they are.

The terminology might be used interchangeably between appetizers, hors d'oeuvres, and canapés, however, there are clear distinctions. An appetizer is a small-portioned dish served as the first course of a dinner, whereas Encore Catering explains that hors d'oeuvres are small finger foods served before dinner, usually during a cocktail hour. But, is an hors d'oeuvre the same as a canapé?

A more minuscule type of hors d'oeuvre, the canapé tends to mimic an open-faced sandwich, notes Martha Stewart. That said, toppings may vary between humble and rich ingredients, but there's one rule that should always be followed when crafting the best canapés.

Simple sandwiches mean uncomplicated eating

There is a method to the madness when it comes to these tasty bites. Although you can get creative with mixing and matching different ingredients, Arabella Reeve Catering explains that a canapé has four key components: a sturdy base (namely bread, puff pastry, or blini), a spread (such as butter, mayonnaise, or cheese) that prevents sogginess and holds the canapé together, a luxurious topping (either meat, seafood, or vegetable), and finally an aesthetic garnish (like herbs, caviar, and truffle).

The typical choice for gatherings, Owen Brothers Catering notes that a well-constructed canapé shouldn't require a lot of effort, but instead be simple to eat in a single manageable mouthful, so as to leave you more time to socialize with other guests. Likewise, because canapés aren't usually served with cutlery, these tiny treats need to be thoughtfully built — there's nothing worse than taking a bite of your canapé and having all the ingredients slide off because you didn't bolster them down with a spread.

Meant to stimulate appetite and encourage guests to drink, this is why Delighted Cooking reports that most canapés tend to be savory, salty, and spicy. While there is no right answer for the number of nibbles you should make for your guests, if you're hosting a cocktail and canapé party, aim for about 10 hors d'oeuvres per person. But, if you've nailed your canapé construction, that number might just increase.