Adding Sizzle to Your Holiday Events

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With the holiday season quickly approaching, we all know it’s important to stay ahead of the latest trends.

Whether you want to be set apart as an expert, or add items to a list of upsells that will maximize your profitability, knowing the trends translates into dollars. This is especially true during the holiday season when you may need to add some sizzle and sensation to your functions. At a recent event in Houston, hosted by the National Association for Catering and Events, we discussed just that. Here are some take-aways:

The focus continues to be on casual, lounge seating — and what better way to maximize on this than with fun and informal grab-and-go food stations to facilitate mingling and create memorable experiences? Mix up menu offerings with themed stations to allow grazing throughout the event, with smaller serving vessels that can easily be carried back to comfy couches and ottomans placed around the dance floor.

For a truly memorable food item, stimulate all five senses with a tasty dessert, like warm ricotta cake with almond crème anglaise, topped with sour cherry sorbetto, and garnished with the surprise zing of Pop Rocks. The tantalizing scent of the cake coupled with the vibrancy of colors, flavors, and mouthfeel create a unique and memorable sensory impression that is sure to bring out the wow factor.

You can add a touch of vitality with an affogato station, with espresso poured over homemade ice cream. Or, indulge the sweeter side with a unique hand-dipped peppermint ice cream station, married with an assortment of holiday-themed toppings.

Clients are looking for interactive entertainment, and a cast of winter-themed characters who will intermingle as guests dance and dine will definitely add enjoyment. A costumed character can pass hors d’oeuvres and desserts (another fabulous way to make an impressive impact), with huge entertainment value.

Happy Holidays!


HolidayRecipe_WebWarm, Soft Ricotta Cake
with Almond Crème Anglaise, Sour Cherry Sorbetto and Cherry Pop Rocks
Recipe by Pedro Sanchez, Executive Chef, BraeBurn Country Club
Serves 8

Ricotta cake
12 oz white chocolate
½ pound unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1½ ounces AP flour
¼ tsp salt
4 oz ricotta cheese
6 egg whites
4 oz sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Melt the white chocolate and butter on a Bain-marie then add the vanilla, egg yolks, flour, salt, and ricotta cheese. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
In another bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks are formed, add the sugar and cream of tartar, keep whipping until hard peaks are formed.
Fold the egg white meringue with the white chocolate mix.
Place on a buttered baking mold in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, served warm.

Sour cherry sorbetto
5 cups frozen, pitted sour cherries
1½ Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup water
3 Tbsp granulated sugar

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve the cherry sorbet immediately or freeze it for an additional hour for a hard set.

Almond crème anglaise
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split
1 Tbsp almond paste
3 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp sugar

Combine milk and cream in a heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and almond paste. Bring milk mixture to simmer. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens (do not boil). Strain sauce into bowl. Cover and chill.

Place ricotta cake in stemless martini glass. Top with almond crème anglaise, followed by a scoop of the sour cherry sorbetto. Just prior to service, sprinkle with cherry Pop Rocks.




Lisa Carruth, CPCE, is the Director of Catering and Member Events, Braeburn Country Club and President, Houston Chapter, National Association of Catering and Events (NACE).

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