New Year’s Bang

If you’re staying home or will be bringing in the new year with friends, here are classic, simple-to-make, but impressive party foods to put on your table. Any of these can go from glitzy to casual and that’s determined by how you set the table or what containers you serve the foods in.

Closing out the old and bringing in 2014 means celebrating with Champagne, caviar, crab meat and chocolate. These recipes let you do it all and not break the bank.

The Caviar Tart is topped with half of a jar of black lumpfish caviar which is affordable and found in the aisle near the tuna fish. If you like caviar and want to splurge with the fancy Louisiana choupique caviar, the red caviars or orange salmon caviar, those are sold fresh and, of course, are more expensive. But remember you only need a small amount of it. Since it tops the flavored layers; I went for the less expensive, shelf-stable variety.

The tart is served on Melba toasts or a favorite cracker.

The Crabmeat Cheesecake recipe is one my friend Betty Bourgeois of Lafayette makes. She likes anything with fresh crabmeat in it. Crabmeat is expensive but, as an appetizer, 1 pound feeds a crowd.

If you have any left over, warm it and serve a small piece with a big green salad on the side the next day.

By the time the dessert comes, most of us just “want a bite” and that’s what these minicups of Chocolate Pots de Crème are.

This is a rich and intense chocolate pudding topped with a small dollop of whipped cream and a raspberry. The chocolate is flavored with brandy.

I served these “small tastes” in miniature, throwaway, clear compotes with demitasse spoons or disposable minispoons. I bought several of these miniature serving containers at Party Time awhile back. They’re attractive on a tray and just the right size to hold a rich dessert like this one. If you don’t want to buy containers, use tiny liqueur glasses or miniature coffee cups.

This is a rich and intense chocolate pudding so small portions are satisfying. The brandy enhances (or intensifies) the chocolate. Vanilla extract can be substituted if you prefer.

The tiny cups held about 3 tablespoons of dessert.

For a festive drink, float a fresh cherry or green grape in your champagne flute for a bit of color.

Whether you’re with the family watching the firework celebrations around the world on TV or hosting a glitzy party, make something special to celebrate the beginning of the new year.