Awards season is here, it's time to celebrate in style! This year, we're brushing aside the grey skies of winter gloom by hosting a glitzy, fabulous Oscars gala, inviting our sequins-and-black-tie-clad friends & family to fill our living room with raucous champagne-fueled toasts as we cheer for our favorite films and actors. Just kidding......haha! We have an eight-week-old baby at home. The last event we hosted was Christmas morning breakfast for our immediate family, and I have to admit, our tree and holiday decor (and the occasional lone tumbleweed of wrapping paper) stayed up past MLK Day. No, this year, Tim and I are actually hosting an intimate Oscars party for two, at which we will be seated cross-legged at the coffee table and clad in our finest robes and pajamas. Because we are still fancy folk who have so many things worth celebrating, though, our basic party concept remains the same even though the guest list is a little streamlined: elegant little desserts and a sparkling cocktail that brings a much-needed touch of glamour to the living room. The real winner of the evening, though? Lovely little nibbles covered in rich dark and milk chocolate by the legendary chocolate makers at Ghirardelli, one of my all-time favorite treats.
Whether you're entertaining à deux or for an entire crowd, my mantra is usually 'go for simplicity.' Keep the concept straightforward--in this case, bite-sized desserts and minimalist cocktails--and keep the energy of the party focused on fun. Our awards party celebration was the perfect opportunity to reach for the chocolate-covered nuts and fruit treats made by my friends at Ghirardelli. Beautiful bowls of perfectly grabbable snacks make for an easy, yet elegant dessert spread. To coordinate with our Chocolate Covered Snacks, I am planning to make a few two-bite confections of my own, including tiny meringue kisses dipped in chocolate and almonds, a treat that pairs beautifully with Ghirardelli's Milk Chocolate Covered Almonds (our hands-down favorite of the flavors). A crisp, dry sparkling wine or champagne gets a little extra fruity kick from a spoonful of blueberry vanilla compote, making it basically the simplest cocktail ever. A little gold glitter sprinkled around never fails to make things feel festive, either.
Thanks go out to Ghirardelli for sponsoring this post and encouraging me to develop this elegant little party for two (that can easily be scaled up to a party for twenty, if you're so inclined)! All recipes and opinions expressed in this post are, as always, 100% my own. To find out more about Ghirardelli Chocolate (including coupons and shopping options), visit them at their site, or follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Makes 4 dozen kisses
4 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 oz dark or milk chocolate
Preheat oven to 200 degrees, line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large, clean mixing bowl and beat with a whisk of electric mixer until the mixture becomes first foamy, then opaque. Add sugar a little at a time and continue beating until it has all been added and the meringue forms stiff, shiny peaks.
Spoon the meringue one tablespoon at a time (or pipe from a pastry bag with a decorative tip for fancier kisses) onto the prepared baking sheets, then place in oven. Bake at 200 for two hours, then turn off heat and let meringues sit in oven for two more hours. Remove, and let cool thoroughly. In a microwave-proof bowl or double boiler on stove, melt the chocolate. Dip the bottom third of each meringue in melted chocolate, then roll gently in sliced almonds. Place back on parchment or silicone mat until chocolate has hardened (you can set these a little faster by placing them in the fridge), then serve!