Entertaining Tip: Individual-Sized Desserts

We're on a dessert kick today. We already showed you a heavy-hitting Rhubarb Fool, and now we're pushing little glasses full of chocolate mousse...

But our intentions are good! We think individual desserts that can be made ahead are a great way to give dinner guests something special without making more work for you.

Any pudding, mousse, or parfait lends itself well to being served in small glasses. You can whip it up and pour or assemble it in individual containers instead of doling it out from a big bowl at the end of the meal.

Puddings will set up faster in small portions, too. And your guests get a little taste of something that doesn't feel too overindulgent. You can also stretch one recipe into many, many servings, depending on how big your glasses. Just serve dessert in pretty shot-sized glasses or skinny champagne flutes.

This system doesn't have to be for guests, by the way. We sometimes make cobblers and puddings in small ramekins to keep ourselves from eating the entire thing at once.

We think the sugared kumquats on top of the Dark Chocolate Mousse from Epicurious, above, make each portion so beautiful. But a sprinkling of chocolate shavings or sliced banana would work, too. You can also try our own Spicy Boozy Mousse or Lemon Rice Pudding served the same way. And don't forget about those four amazing recipes in Melissa Clark's Wednesday article for the Times!

Another Epicurious find: Banana-Cream Parfaits.

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These might be more labor-intensive on the front end, having to layer each glass with cookies and pudding. But the results just look like a party, don't they?

More recipes that would work well:

(Images: Leo Gong and Brian Leatart, both for Bon Appétit)

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