Show Off Your Sweet Smarts
It's not your last-minute wine-buying or social butterflying skills that crown you the best holiday party guest; it's the sweet impression you leave behind.
After a night of running around, refilling glasses, passing canapés, socializing and cleaning up the mess, all your host probably wants is a sugary, totally satisfying treat.
You know your friends best, so here are a few suggestions for the ideal sweets with which to thank them:
For the cookie connoisseur
Get in the holiday spirit with Florentine Cookie Sandwiches with Eggnog Icing (see the recipe), crisp cookie sandwiches sealed together with a boozy, eggy filling. Or go classic with ultra rich, thick Chocolate Chip Cookies (see the recipe) rolled with old-fashioned oats for a homey touch. Channel James Beard Award–winning baker Chad Robertson with Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies (see the recipe), little puffs of salty, nutty chocolate cookies that pair perfectly with a glass of milk—or something a little higher-proof.
For the nostalgic sweet tooth
An elegant terrine of Classic Tiramisu (see the recipe) is always cause for celebration, layered with mascarpone and ladyfingers and dusted in cocoa powder. Just tie a pretty bow, and you're good to go. Turn blueberry pie on its head with a Blueberry Cornmeal Galette (see the recipe). It's free-form crust-making fun on your end and a lemon-zested, creamy, rustic galette to savor on your host's.
For the breakfast lover
Bake 'em a big batch of airy, sugar-dusted, orange zest–speckled Morning Buns (see the recipe) for next-day brunching. Way to think ahead, you. Everyone claims they make the best banana bread, but we're calling it: Dominique Ansel's Banana Bread (see the recipe) reigns supreme. Bring a loaf (or two) of his cakelike bread and expect raves by midday. Or make the most of autumnal apples with Daniel Humm's Beer-Battered Apple Fritters (see the recipe); you'll definitely need a baker's dozen of these light, chewy rounds.
For the shameless store-bought sweets lover
Those marshmallow-glued squares of puffed-rice magic taste even better with oodles of chocolate. Cut up slabs of the Mast Brothers's Chocolate Crunch (see the recipe) to make save-for-later sweets for your host. Or whip up an easy freezer pleaser. The 6-Layer Ice Cream Cake (see the recipe) is made up of a trinity of deliciousness: Oreos, Cool Whip and mint chocolate chip ice cream.
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