Fancy Fruit Plates

I love getting together with friends when everyone literally brings something to the table. That kind of pot luck teamwork really makes any gathering more special and interesting because everyone brings something different. I’ve had birthday parties where five or so guests all bring a bag of the same kind of corn chips—and I love me a corn chip, but where’s the creativity? The personal touch? However, I’ve since learned that assigning food and drinks really is the best way to go so it’s clear that there won’t be any food overlap. Also, anyone with allergies or dietary restrictions can make sure that there’s something at the party for them to eat and enjoy too.

In the past, I’ve always been the first to volunteer a killer cheese plate with crackers, hummus-pita-veggie combos, mixing up sweets, and designing a spread for holiday parties, girls’ nights at my apartment, and end of the semester celebrations at work where everyone can relax and munch on plenty of good eats. Around the food is where most of any good party happens anyway, so it’s important to make that food great. With all of these experiences, I’ve amassed an impressive amount of pretty serving platters, trays, and travel-ready containers, which only excites me more to show up with something I’ve prepared.

Just this weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my good friend’s bachelorette party. Although I was unable to join in most of the daytime festivities (work, work, work), the evening portion included a bunch of girlfriends hanging out in another friend’s backyard under a brilliant August night sky. We laughed and cackled the night away, catching up on how our summers were going, and getting the details on the bride’s exciting and creative wedding preparations. My role for this part of the night was to not only provide all the paper and plastic wares for our snackfest, but I volunteered to bring some sort of fruit to accompany the other dessert treats. It is summer, after all, and fruit always makes for a refreshing bite.

Alissa & Chris about to leave for vacation in June 2017, in Deer Park, NY.

Since I’m writing about a bachelorette party that I attended this weekend, you might wonder what this has to do with Kissing Cooks, but Chris certainly had plenty of helpful input that inspired my final fruit product. For the last few weeks, he’d been hearing me debate about what fruit to bring, especially since my spending habits have been seriously budgeted and I knew that some of my fellow partygoers had allergies or dietary preferences. I didn’t want to just bring a bowl of watermelon. Not that there’s anything wrong with watermelon. I wanted something fancy (hence my affinity for pretty napkins from Sur La Table) and something very specific to me. I’m almost always looking for some whimsical or glamorous option that best represents who I am as a party participant and friend.

Since I was working most of the day and only had about two hours to prepare a fruit option, I didn’t want to rush cutting into a melon, not knowing until the last minute if the fruit was ripe enough (because that happened recently for a breakfast that Chris and I shared). I’m also not very handy when it comes to cutting on the large-scale. Give me an eggplant, cucumber, or apple, and I’ll happily chop away, but for some reason, the idea of anything the size of a football or larger gives me nightmares of a knife falling out of my hand and chopping off my toes. Yes, that was a real dream. I like my toes, so I wasn’t about to set up a situation where that could come true.

Anyway… Chris suggested chocolate covered strawberries because who doesn’t love chocolate covered strawberries? He’s knows my penchant for the more decadent things in life, so this was a great idea. Also, strawberries are relatively inexpensive if you catch the right sale because they’re very much in season right now. I was trying to build from Chris’ idea, but I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to go from there.

After work that Sunday, I hurried to the local Dollar Tree for my paper and plastic supplies, which was perfect for a party of about eight guests, so I didn’t need to buy much in bulk. With the bride’s gothic / punk wedding theme in mind, I grabbed cups, plates, flatware, and napkins in purple and red to create a luxurious and appropriate color scheme to celebrate my friend’s exciting journey to the altar. I grabbed four Hershey’s milk chocolate bars, which I knew were perfectly sized for melting in a double boiler since the bars can be broken into smaller pieces, thus melting faster. Then, among the clear plastic serving items, I found small square mini dishes, perfect for portioning out a variety of fruit to each party guest. A 12-pack was only $1, but just in case, I put two packages in my basket and headed to the register.

All of a sudden, my mind raced with inspiration (thank you, Chris) and I knew what I wanted to make. I headed to Stop & Shop, where strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries were all on sale, and as per my usual groceries, I also picked up some mandarin oranges and bananas. I pictured it perfectly in my head that I’d put a little of each fruit on each of the serving dishes, drizzle half of them with chocolate (since I was using milk chocolate, I still wanted my vegan friends to enjoy the fruit too). This would create a special little sample of everything for everyone to indulge in among the other homemade dessert varieties others were providing.

When I arrived home, I washed and divided all the berries into plastic containers, setting up an assembly line of ingredients. Following that, I cut two bananas in long diagonal slices and peeled two oranges, which I then segmented as well. I lined a long shallow rectangular container (perfect for serving and traveling) with damask print black and white napkins and set up each of the mini plates inside. Then, as my double boiler was warming and the chocolate was melting, I distributed a slice of banana on each of the mini plates, followed by a segment of orange, one whole strawberry (with the leaf still attached because I thought the green added a beautiful pop of color among the other bright fruit hues), about four or five blueberries, and a raspberry on top. Each plate looked like a lavish bite of summer. My plastic container held 15 of the plates, so I decided to make just a little more than half of each serving with the drizzled chocolate. I had a lot more cut fruit leftover, which I set up in a smaller container to give some to my parents (who always love and encourage my colorful and pretty food creations) and also for Chris to enjoy when he came over to my apartment the next night.

Once the chocolate was drizzled, I stored everything away in the fridge to give the chocolate time to harden. I only had about 20 minutes before my half hour drive to the party, so I wanted to make sure all was complete and ready for eating. I’m so pleased with how these mini plates came out. I love chocolate with fruit, especially oranges, which I thought really brought all the flavors together nicely.

Perhaps next time, I can drizzle dark or white chocolate, or even add some sugar crystal sprinkles or shredded coconut for additional texture and sweetness. Also, if I was looking to keep the calories down, I could avoid the chocolate all together and then the dessert wouldn’t require any cooking at all, which is perfect when on a time crunch before a party. Creating these mini fruit plates was not difficult at all, but it did take some time to set everything up just as symmetrically and picturesque as I wanted. My friend, the bride, deserved all the attention and care that preparing this dessert required.

Luckily, I ended up with some extra mini plates at the end of the night because there were just so many yummy food options during the party—we all left feeling so full and satisfied. Also, I had plenty of extra strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries to enjoy for breakfast the next morning, creating a healthy and refreshing parfait of fruit flavors atop my vanilla yogurt.

Thank you so much to Chris who always offers quick-fix tips any time I’m stuck trying to figure something out. I don’t mean that for just fruit either. It’s a wonderful thing when your partner can not only help you when you’re in need, but inspire you to be creative, especially when it’s for such an important occasion as my good friend’s bachelorette party. Chris gets one big smooch for this!

Alissa & Chris at Arooga’s in Patchogue, NY in May 2017.

As always… stay kissing and stay cooking!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s