These bite-sized desserts are big on glamour--and flavor.
Credit: Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

I'm no slouch in the sophistication department, but parties are my undoing. I know all the countries that make up the former Yugoslavia, and I can spot an Armani jacket from 20 yards away. So why, when I shift my wineglass to my left hand and pick up the plate with the chocolate mousse cake, do I inevitably end up with frosting down my front -- and always at the moment when I'm trying to impress that suave David Niven look-alike with my grasp of Balkan politics? So much for sophistication.

I'm not alone, though, and that's comforting. Pretty much everyone I know, at one time or another, has ended up with crumbs in her cleavage or wine on his shoes after losing a round of Holiday Party Roulette. That's because, as in the casino version, the odds are stacked against you. Mingling partygoers are expected to handle a full set of eating and drinking utensils with only two hands and no lap. That's just not fair.

So we're changing the rules. We're taking the plate, the fork, and the mousse cake out of the equation and offering a bevy of bite-sized, party-friendly pastries.They all pack the flavor of a full-sized dessert into a package that you can pick up and eat in just a couple of fork-free bites. We've got at least one representative from every major food group: chocolate, peppermint, fruit, and cream cheese. Take the Apricot-Cranberry Tarts -- they're mini-muffin-sized cups of rum-touched fruited pie. The Apple and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups are tiny phyllo-wrapped treats, and the Peanut Butter-Fudge Cups are a cross between a Reese's and a cumulus cloud.

Think about it: One drink plus one pint-sized pastry equals two hands!

No Forks Required Recipes