While event planners usually associate berries with summer events, they are also the perfect choice for winter. As the frosty weather returns and the festive season is upon us, there is no better way to keep desserts light, fresh and colorful than to begin with berries. They will please everyone's palette and at the same time cater to calorie-conscious guests.
I recently was reminded of this when I was served a soothing, warm, raspberry tartare enveloped in puff pastry at Casa Fernanda Boutique Hotel in Tepoztlan, Mexico. It was a cool evening. What a delightful and memorable way to end a meal.
Fortunately, fresh berries are still available in some parts of North America and Europe and frozen berries will be available throughout the winter.
Growing up in Montreal, mille-feuille (meaning a thousand leaves) could be found at almost every patisserie. The custard was enveloped between layers of golden, flaky, puff pastry.
Raspberries give this dessert, which is also called a raspberry Napoleon, a special lift by substituting cream and raspberries for the custard.
Here Chef Gordon Ramsey demonstrates how to pull it together. For group events, a miniature mille-feuille would be assembled for each guest.
This sinfully delicious raspberry dessert has a variety of textures and the element of surprise that guests love (You can substitute Dr. Oetker Mousse made with lactose-free milk for the yogurt for guests who are lactose intolerant).
In 6 Refreshing Frozen Treats Guests will Find Hard to Resist, we discussed granita, a cool and refreshing dessert that originated in Italy. Granita can be served on its own or as an ice cream substitute to accompany a pie or cake.
Cranberry Granita adds a fresh twist to these berries that are part of traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.
Hot Blueberry Cake
Of course, blueberry pie is always a crowd favorite but it's not the only option. Comforting, hot blueberry cake from the Lake Saint John region of Quebec is one of my personal favorites.
Blueberry Grunt is popular in Canada's Nova Scotia province in the Maritimes and New England. It consists of dumplings smothered in a mixture of blueberries, cinnamon, and lemon juice with a hint of sugar.
Other delicious blueberry desserts include blueberry cobbler, blueberry crumble, and blueberry crisp.
All of these desserts can also be prepared with cherries.
Finally, Cherries Jubilee is usually a glorious flambéed dessert. When that's not possible, this simple recipe demonstrates that guests can still enjoy the rich flavors.
Experiment with raspberries, cranberries, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. Get your caterer to create shortcakes, angel food cake topped with berries, strudels, turnovers, scones, mousses, and berry flavored sorbets, ice cream, and ices. Your guests will thank you.