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Serving Food Attractively: Desserts
ANGELICA: Chop angelica and sprinkle over the dessert. Cut a stalk of angelica into lengthwise slices, then cut each lengthwise slice into thin strips to form the staff for music notes of a definite melody. Other shapes may also be cut from these slices and arranged on individual or general desserts.
APPLES: Cut firm, tasty apples in julienne strips. Make cinnamon syrup by cooking 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon corn syrup, 1 cup of water, and a 2-inch piece of stick cinnamon for about 10 minutes. Simmer apple strips in the syrup until tender. Tint the syrup any pastel color desired with pure fruit coloring and allow the apple strips to stand in this colored solution overnight. Arrange strips fence fashion near the base of the dessert, or crisscross on top of the dessert.
APPLESAUCE: Tint applesauce green, then form into nests on top of individual desserts or at the base of a molded dessert served on a large plate. Fill with whole nut meats, Bing cherries, blackberries, blueberries, ground cherries, raspberries, strawberries, or other available small fruit.
BANANAS: Slice bananas and arrange as a border around the bottom of a dessert glass or on top of a large dessert in alternating rows with other fruit.
Dip one half of a banana slice in pineapple juice and the other half in melted chocolate. Allow the chocolate to harden, then arrange the slices in a design on the dessert.
Flute the bananas by drawing the tines of a fork down the outer surface of a whole banana. Cut slices diagonally, then dip in pineapple or other fruit juice. Stand upright in petal fashion on top of the dessert, inserting just enough of the banana slice to stabilize it.
BERRIES: Form borders or other designs with fresh whole berries. Use singly or in clusters with or without mint leaves or natural leaves.
Slice strawberries and arrange artistically on dessert or pour the crushed fruit over the dessert.
CANDIES: Place cinnamon hearts or drops in a design on any light-colored dessert. Crush stick candy of any chosen color and flavor; sprinkle over white dessert.
Cut peppermint patties in half or in smaller segments and arrange in a conventional design.
Decorative candies: Scatter over the surface or arrange in a definite pattern tiny, hard, smooth surface or rough lacy candies. These candies come in a number of colors, flavors, and shapes. The tiny star-shaped candies are particularly attractive.
CHERRIES: Arrange a cluster of red, white, or black cherries with the leaves at the base of stemware containing the dessert. Two or three cherries may be fixed on the rim of the glass or on the top or side of the dessert.
Pit cherries. Beginning from open end of the cherry cut petals by cutting down to but not through the center at the other end. Spread out on the dessert. Arrange singly, with or without leaves and stems, or in groups to form bouquets.
Chop red or black cherries and arrange in design.
CHESTNUTS: Purchase candied or brandied chestnuts. Slice or chop the chestnuts and decorate desserts of a contrasting color.
CHOCOLAT: Drip melted chocolate in a pattern over dessert.
Scatter shot or place morsels of chocolate in definite pattern. Pour chocolate sauce over dessert and top with chopped nut meats, cherry, or colorful hard candies.
CITRON: To decorate desserts with citron designs, cut light-colored citron in the shape of various objects. Color by allowing the cut citron to stand overnight in a thin syrup solution colored with fruit or vegetable coloring. Stems and leaves may be cut from deep green citron.
Chop citron; scatter over dessert or form a definite design by sprinkling generously over a cardboard stencil which has been placed over the dessert. Remove cardboard carefully and a perfect design will be formed.
COCONUT: Grate or shave fresh coconut and sprinkle over dessert.
Toast coconut and scatter over dessert. Use either long or short shreds. Scatter short shreds of white or tinted coconut over a cardboard stencil. Remove cardboard carefully so as not to disturb the design.COLORING: Using fruit or vegetable coloring, tint part of a light-colored pudding, then gently mix the light and the colored portions to give a marbled effect. For variation arrange in layers in glass stemware.
Meringues or whipped-cream toppings may be tinted to give a two-tone effect. Paint designs on white or light molded desserts with a paintbrush and fruit or vegetable coloring.
COOKIES: Place tiny whole cookies, halves, or smaller segments of a large cookie in a design to suit some special occasion. Cookies are used most effectively on soft or molded desserts.
CREAM PUFFS OR ÉCLAIRS: Make tiny cream puffs, using about 3/a or 1 level tablespoon of dough. Bake and let cool. Fill with custard or whipped-cream filling and top with white or tinted whipped-cream rosettes. Arrange around any dessert served on a torte plate.
CRANBERRIES: Insert different lengths of small sticks (the size of toothpicks or thinner) in fresh cranberries. Then group all together with mint or other suitable leaves to form a bouquet. Place a small bouquet at the base of a glass or other stemware or arrange groups of the cranberry bouquets at intervals on a torte plate.
Cook cranberries gently until tender in a sugar syrup so that their shape will be retained. Place in tiny meringue rosettes and use as border at the base of a dessert. Serve on a large plate.
Cut cranberry jelly about 1/2 inch thick, then cut into special shapes with a cookie cutter or other fancy cutter. Serve on dessert. For example, serve cranberry bunnies on top of tapioca pudding; sailboats on vanilla junket; little chickens on rice fluff or other light dessert.
Use thick cranberry sauce or softened cranberry jelly (jelly that has been beaten with a fork) in alternate layers with a white fluffy mixture made by combining a beaten egg white with 1 cup of heavy cream, whipped, 1 teaspoon flavoring, and 2 tablespoons sugar.
DATES: Stuff dried dates with nut meats, then cut into slices or use whole in an artistic arrangement.
Chop dates or cut in strips. Fashion in the shape of flowers or other designs. Use orange rind for the center of the flowers.
DESSERT BUNNY: Use a large scoop of ice cream for the head and strips of marshmallow for the ears. Place the scoop of ice cream on a serving plate. Tint the insides of the marshmallow ears with pink vegetable dye, then fasten the ears to the ice cream with toothpicks. Form the eyes and nose with bits of raisins and the mouth with a piece of cherry. The whiskers can be made with long shreds of coconut or shredded wheat. Force whipped cream through a pastry tube to form the collar. Serve immediately, or place in freezing compartment of refrigerator until ready to serve.
DESSERT CLOWNS: Prepare gelatin according to directions on the package. Chill until slightly syrupy. Pour half of mixture into four to six cone-shaped sherbet glasses. Place in refrigerator. Chill remaining gelatin in bowl until almost firm. Beat with a rotary beater until fluffy and thick. Pour over plain gelatin in sherbet glasses. Chill until firm. Place three cookie halves on each individual plate to form a circle. Unmold gelatin on top of cookies. Whip cream until stiff. With a pastry tube, decorate with whipped cream to represent a clown's face, hat, and ruffled collar.
Place a large scoop of ice cream on a serving plate and top with an ice-cream cone for the hat. Form eyes, nose, and mouth with raisins and cherries. Force tinted whipped cream through a pastry tube to form the ruffled collar.
FIGS: Chop or cut figs in strips and form geometric designs on desserts.
FRUIT: Cut brandied or candied fruit in various shapes. Arrange in design on the dessert. Place a small segment of crystallized grapes on top of dessert or at base of glass stemware containing dessert. A small cluster may be placed on the rim of a glass or several clusters may be arranged at intervals on a torte plate next to a molded dessert. To crystallize grapes, select 1 pound of red or purple grapes, wash and dry well, then cut into small clusters. Combine 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar and boil 5 minutes. Dip each bunch of grapes separately into the syrup, allow excess syrup to drain off, and sprinkle grapes immediately with coarse granulated sugar. Place on a platter and allow sir-up to harden. Grapes will crystallize more rapidly if placed in the refrigerator.
Arrange whole or sliced fresh fruit with or without leaves on top of dessert or in groups around the dessert.
Make a sauce with fruit juice, tint color desired, and pour over dessert. Chop or cut dried fruit into strips and use to form ships, flags, or other objects to suit the occasion.
FRUIT ICE: Scoop tiny balls of fruit ice or sherbet and serve on top of diced fruit, melon balls, or whole berries, with or without mint leaves. Be sure that the ice has a dominant color or one in contrast to fruit used.
GELATIN: Mold flavored gelatin in a flat pan to a depth of 1/2 to 1 inch. Cut in the shape of animals, flowers, or any object desired, and arrange on the top or sides of a dessert. Shred flavored gelatin, place different colors in a frappe glass, alternating colors in layers either flat or at an angle.
To make attractive designs in gelatin molds, choose substantial, clean-cut pieces of fruit, such as peach or pear slices, orange or grapefruit sections, grape halves, melon balls, strawberry halves, or slices of stuffed prunes. Vegetables could be used in salads in the same way. Turn slightly thickened gelatin mix into a mold to make a thin layer about 1/4 inch thick. Place fruit in the pattern desired. Chill until firm. If the design is not perfectly set, place another thin layer of gelatin over fruit and chill until set, then fill mold with the remaining gelatin. Additional fruit may be inserted around sides. In arranging fruit in a design, remember that when gelatin is unmolded, the form will be upside down.
More elaborate designs may be arranged on top of any mold, using whole small fruits or carefully cut pieces. A simple arrangement in each corner or in the center of a mold or as a border is always attractive. More elaborate wheels, flowers with "petals," chains, diamonds, and circles are lovely if carefully done.
GINGER: Cut preserved ginger in shapes desired and arrange on dessert.
GRAPENUTS: Sprinkle on top of white or tinted topping of desserts.
HOLLY: Use berries, leaves, or sprigs at base of stem glassware or around plum pudding. Do not eat.
HONEY: Drip strained honey an any appropriate design over the topping on a dessert. JELLY OR JAM Place a spoonful on top of meringue in individual servings.
JELLY ROLL: Arrange slices of jelly roll on the bottom and sides of a round mold. Fill the center with a tasty, fluffy gelatin mixture, such as strawberry charlotte. Top with jelly-roll slices, then chill until firm. Cut mold in wedges to serve. This makes a very attractive dessert.
KUMQUATS: Slice fruit and arrange in overlapping slices at the base of a dessert on a torte plate, or place a few slices on top of a pudding.
LEMONS: Cut each slice in fancy shapes. Place on rim of glass or on greens at base of glass. Sprinkle grated rind over dessert. Pour lemon sauce over dessert; top with whipped cream or grated lemon rind.
MACAROON OR CAKE CRUMBS: Sprinkle crumbs over entire surface of a dessert, or over a cardboard stencil. For directions how to use cardboard stencil, see Helpful Hints in section on general directions.
MARRON GLACE: European chestnuts which have been steamed or boiled and glazed. Use as a topping for ice cream or other dessert.
MARSHMALLOWS: Cut white or tinted marshmallows in halves or pieces and use to form rabbits. Place whole marshmallows on certain desserts, put under flame, and puff just before serving.
MELONS: Scoop balls from watermelon, honeydew, or muskmelon with a French ball cutter. Arrange in nests or in rows, groups, or circles at base of dessert. Intermingle with watercress or mint leaves. Cut small slices of melon and insert in a dessert at intervals. Top with berries. Cut melon in lengthwise wedges. At one end of each wedge place a cluster of grapes with leaves or berries and mint leaves. Serve a scoop of ice cream in the center of a crescent-shaped piece of honeydew melon or in a half muskmelon. Place whole berries on melon around ice cream. Attach a sprig of mint. Grapes may be cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and used in place of berries. Place on the melon with the cut side down.
MERINGUE: Use white or tinted meringue on dessert. Form designs by forcing through a pastry tube; place in a 375° F. oven until set. Remove; serve plain, or fix cherries, dragees, or other colorful decoration in each design.
Poach meringue in hot water until firm; remove; drain; place in serving dish. Pour soft custard over top of poached meringue. Meringue will float. A bit of jelly, jam, or marmalade placed here and there on meringue will add color and flavor. Sprinkle shredded coconut over meringue before baking.
NUT MEATS: Almonds Blanch, shred, and scatter over the surface of a pudding before baking. Or toast whole blanched almonds and use singly or in groups to form a design.
Brazil Nuts: Shave or chop and sprinkle over dessert.
Cashews: Use whole or chopped.
Peanuts: Remove brown membrane, use whole, halves, or chopped.
Pistachios: Form geometric or conventional designs with whole or chopped pistachio nut meats.
Walnuts: Form a center design or a border with halves. Chopped walnuts may be sprinkled over a cardboard stencil. To obtain a perfect pattern remove cardboard carefully.
ORANGES: Arrange three orange slices in a circle, overlapping each other, and place a maraschino or candied cherry in the center of each slice. The stems of 2 or 3 mint leaves may be placed under each cherry. Insert orange sections in the sides of a molded dessert or around the edge of a dessert served in a deep dish. Sprinkle grated orange rind over dessert. Cut candied orange peel, tinted or in natural color, in shape of objects, flowers, or geometric Arrange in design that will harmonize with shape of container. Dip candied orange peel in melted chocolate. Let stand until hard, and arrange in design.
PEANUT BRITTLE OR PECAN CRUNCH: Chop or break in small pieces; scatter over or place in center of individual servings of dessert.
PEARS: Tint cooked pears a delicate green, pink, or yellow by allowing them to stand overnight in a colored syrup made by adding fruit or vegetable coloring to the pear syrup. Arrange two or three groups of whole pears, pear halves, or slices on greens surrounding a dessert served on a large plate.
PERSIMMONS: Cut a persimmon in sections. Arrange around a large buffet dessert, either alone or combined with other fruit.
PINEAPPLES: Cut fresh pineapple in cubes and arrange border fashion at the base of molded dessert. Scatter whole berries or chopped mint over pineapple. Stand canned whole pineapple slices at intervals in a fruit border surrounding a watermelon or honeydew melon bowl which has been filled with mixed fresh fruit. Galax leaves may be used under the melon bowl on top of a serving tray. Make or buy candied pineapple. Use in natural color or tinted. Decorate a dessert with wedges or halves of pineapple slices with or without candied cherries.
PINE NEEDLES: Select choice twigs of pine needles, clean thoroughly, and place at each end of a long oval tray on which a plum pudding is served. The pudding may be topped with an alcohol flame made by inserting a small special glass container in the top of the pudding filled with alcohol that is lighted just before pudding is served.
PRUNES: Stuff cooked pitted prunes with marshmallows, nut meats, or candied fruit. Place on top of individual dessert or arrange in groups on top or at the base of large general dessert. Form flowers from prunes which have been cut in shape of petals.
RAISINS: Scatter whole raisins, dried or puffed by steaming, over dessert, or use in design. To steam raisins soak 20 minutes in enough water to cover. Drain. Place in a perforated container, such as a colander, over hot water, and steam 20 minutes.
SAUCES: A few of the popular sauces which may be used on desserts are berry, chocolate, custard, foamy, hard, Hawaiian, honey, jelly, lemon, maple, marshmallow, mint, nutmeg, orange, tutti-frutti, and yellow. Each will give a different decorative touch to puddings or other desserts. Hard sauce may be formed in various shapes or molds, such as lambs, little men or women, wigwams, or other seasonal objects.
STRAWBERRIES: Place whole strawberries, with or without hulls, on top or at the base of a dessert. Berries may be sliced and used in a design at bottom or sides of a glass bowl or to form design on top of dessert. Crush berries, add sugar to taste, and place in a serving dish, alternating the layers of berries with layers of a light fluffy dessert. Top with whole berries. Scatter whole or crushed berries over a whipped-cream or meringue dessert topping.
TANGERINES: Separate tangerines into sections and arrange in design on or around pudding. Sections of tangerines may be marinated in brandy for a few hours before using, then drain well and dry on a paper towel if necessary before placing sections on the dessert.
WHIPPING CREAM: Swirl white or tinted whipped cream or force through a decorating tube over the dessert. If desired, top with chopped nut meats, cherries, chocolate shot, or fruit strips. Scoop out the center of a cupcake, fill with a ball of ice cream, and decorate the rim of the cupcake with whipped cream to form a fluted border. Force pink-tinted whipped cream through a decorating tube to form pink rosettes at intervals on the whipped-cream border.