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    Mini Desserts: The Perfect Way to Finish Off a Meal

    Sweet, small treats finish a meal perfectly

    Pam Anderson's dessert in a shot glass

    Many of your favorite desserts can easily be assembled in miniature form — Photo by Threemanycooks.com

    Back in 2006 I judged the Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Fla. I remember the very clever $1 million winning recipe (she used Pillsbury waffle sticks to make a quick bread stuffing for roast chicken breast). But the lingering memory from that trip was the Mini Indulgences we judges enjoyed at Seasons 52, a cutting edge chain restaurant that emphasizes healthy cooking and fresh ingredients.

    See also: Join AARP's Online Community to share more delicious recipes.

    It was the first time I had ever seen all of my favorite desserts in miniature form - key lime pie, old-fashioned carrot cake, chocolate peanut butter mousse, pecan pie. Because nothing on the menu at Seasons 52 can be over 485 calories, the chef said they struggled with the dessert menu. They had spent a lot of time creating low-cal desserts, but no one was really excited about them.

    That's precisely the way I feel. Just give me a few bites of something decadent and I'm happy and satisfied. After a nice meal with a few appetizers, a main course with some wine and that's about all I've got room for anyway.

    I've been thinking about those desserts on and off for years, and not surprisingly I'm seeing them on more restaurant menus. You know it's a serious trend when Pier One Imports is selling boxes of a dozen shot glasses and tasting spoons. I couldn't resist. The foodie in me saw all the possibilities for those glasses - all sorts of seafood and soup shooters, all my favorite desserts in miniature form.

    Mini-desserts make a lovely addition to holiday tables, whether the big family meal or a lively neighborhood open house. Try variations of your own. Here is a recipe to get you started.

    Next: Mocha and chocolate-raspberry shot glass desserts. »

    Chocolate-Raspberry Shot Glass Dessert
    Serves 12

    Pam Anderson recipes -  mini desserts in shot glasses assorted flavors

    Mocha and chocolate-raspberry shot glass desserts. — Photo by Threemanycooks.com

    6 ounces light cream cheese (12 tablespoons), softened

    3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    6 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

    3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup strawberry jam, separated

    3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

    1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate cookies, such as Famous Chocolate Wafer (about 24 cookies)

    Fresh strawberries for garnish

    In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, vanilla and mini chocolate chips. In a separate bowl whip heavy cream and 3 tablespoons of the strawberry jam to soft peaks.

    Layer the following in each shot glass: 1 tablespoon cookie crumbs, 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture, 2 teaspoons raspberry jam, 1 tablespoon cookie crumbs, a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with strawberries and serve.

    Mocha Shot-Glass Desserts
    Serves 12

    6 ounces cream cheese (12 tablespoons)

    5 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, divided

    2 teaspoons, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso, divided

    6 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

    3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

    1 1/2 cup crushed Famous Chocolate Wafer (about 24 cookies)

    1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella

    12 coffee beans (preferably chocolate covered)

    In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, 2 teaspoons instant espresso and mini chocolate chips. In a separate bowl whip heavy cream with remaining 2 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder.

    Layer the following in each shot glass: 1 tablespoon cookie crumbs, 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture, 2 teaspoons chocolate-hazelnut spread, 1 tablespoon cookie crumbs, and a dollop of whipped cream. Before serving, garnish each with a coffee bean.

    Also of interest: Apple pie with cheddar cheese.

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