If you're looking for an appetizer that will delight your guests with its gorgeous presentation and rich, delicious taste, the search stops here. These beautiful canapés start with a base of candy cane (or Chioggia) beet squares, whose alternating ruby and white rings are stunning. (You can add more color to the platter by alternating candy cane beet and golden beet slices.) The beet stays raw, so the slices are crunchy and sweet and hold up nicely. Strips of smoked salmon get folded and layered on the beet base with a tasty filling of cream cheese, shallots, and lemon rind. The result looks similar to old-fashioned ribbon candy. The jewel-like topping of easy-to-find salmon caviar turns what's truly a simple make-ahead nibble into an absolute work of art that'll make you the talk of your social circle. -- Idea by Maureen Callahan

Smoked Salmon SquaresCandy cane beets (also called chioggia) make a striking base for these party hors d’oeuvres; if you can’t find them, golden beets are beautiful, too. Just stay away from red beets; they’ll stain your guests’ fingers!

2 small (2-inch diameter) yellow or Chioggia beet, peeled and rinsed4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened1 tablespoon finely minced shallot2 teaspoons grated lemon rind1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 16 long strips1 1/2 teaspoons salmon caviarFresh dill sprigs

1. Use a mandoline to cut beets into very thin slices to yield 16 good pieces. Snip edges off sides of beet slices to form squares.

2. Place cheese in a small bowl. Stir in shallot, rind, and juice.

3. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon cheese mixture on end of one salmon strip; flip salmon over and on top of cheese mixture. Dollop with another half teaspoon cheese; flip strip over cheese again and dollop with another 1/2 teaspoon cheese. (So you have the effect of that ribbon-style Christmas candy; strip folding on top of itself.) Top final cheese mixture with four or five caviar eggs and a tiny bit of dill. Set stuffed salmon strip on one beet square. Repeat procedure with remaining salmon strips, cheese, caviar and beet squares. Cover and refrigerate in a single layer until ready to serve.

SERVES 8 (serving size: 2 canapes)CALORIES 62; FAT 4.1g (sat 2g, mono 1.2g, poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 4g; CARB 2g; FIBER 1g; CHOL 20mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 186mg; CALC 24mg