Photo Credit:  MR+G

Check out the whole Dinner Party Series

  • Throwing a Classy and Easy Dinner Party: Drinks
  • Throwing a Classy and Easy Dinner Party: Appetizers
  • Throwing a Classy and Easy Dinner Party: Meals
  • Throwing a Classy and Easy Dinner Party: Desserts
  • Throwing a Classy and Easy Dinner Party: Conversations and Networking

    What Do You Need to Set Up a Dinner Party?

    • Decide how big you want the party to be. My suggestion? Try 6-10 guests for your first outing. 
    • Decide who you want to have over. Don’t just invite your same circle of friends. Introduce different people and personalities. 
    • Plan out a basic meal. Try to get a really easy menu planned out. If you’re not a good cook, make something easy or even buy something.
    • Consider asking others to bring something. It’s a great way to reduce your workload and get to know your friends. If you feel bad asking up front; wait to see if they ask if they could bring anything, take them up. They wouldn’t offer to help if they didn’t want to.

    Quick and Easy Dessert Recipes 


    Lemon Ricotta Granita


    • 1 cup water
    • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2/3 cup strained fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
    • Pinch salt
    • 1 lemon, for zesting


    Stir the water and 3/4 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat just until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the lemon juice. Pour the lemon mixture into an 8-inch square glass dish. Cover and freeze, stirring occasionally, until the liquid just becomes slushy, about 2 hours. Using a fork, scrape the granita every 30 minutes until it is completely made up of ice crystals. (The granita can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cover and keep frozen, and scrape every so often so that the crystals stay loose.)

    Whisk the ricotta, remaining sugar, and pinch of salt in a medium bowl to blend. Spoon the granita into dessert bowls. Top with a dollop of the ricotta. Zest the lemon peel over the desserts and serve.

    Special thanks for Remodeling this Life’s wonderful recipes.

    Apple Pie Cake Take 3

    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
    • 5 pounds tart apples, such as Granny smith (about 12)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Using an electric mixer or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture forms pea-size pieces. Press two-thirds of the mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

    2. Preheat oven to 350. Peel the apples, cut into thin slices, and place in a bowl. Pour off any accumulated liquid. Toss the apple slices with the remaining teaspoon cinnamon and the lemon juice, and put them in the prepared pan, pressing down gently as you pack them in (they will mound above the edge of the pan). Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top.

    3.Put the pan on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and let the cake cool in the pan to set. Serve at room temperature.

    **Serving suggestion– Dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Also, a scoop of vanilla ice cream goes perfect with this.

    A Mug of Hot Chocolate Cake

    •  8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for coating
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting
    • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


    What to do

    Preheat oven to 375° F. Generously butter, flour, and sugar eight 6-ounce coffee cups or mugs made of ovenproof stoneware (see tip below). Wipe the rims clean.

    Place the 8 tablespoons of butter and the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring once or twice until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.

    Using a handheld mixer, beat the eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar at the highest speed until the volume doubles and the mixture becomes foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir the 3 tablespoons of flour into the chocolate, then gradually add it to the egg mixture, beating on low until it’s fully incorporated. Ladle the batter into each cup until it’s about 1/2 inch from the rim.

    Bake until the cakes puff and begin to crack but the centers are still a bit runny, 13 to 17 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with marshmallows, then return to oven for 2 to 4 minutes, until the marshmallow tops begin to crisp. Remove from oven; let cool about 5 minutes. Sift the cocoa on top.

    Tip: You can bake these individual cakes in coffee mugs or teacups, or use eight 6-ounce ramekins. (To determine if your mugs are ovenproof, refer to the packaging or check with the manufacturer.) Alternatively, a single cake can be made in a 10-inch springform pan or pie plate with enough regular-size marshmallows to cover. To do this, increase the initial baking time to 22 to 25 minutes or, if you prefer a more gooey center, to 17 to 20 minutes.

    Here is how mine turned out. Not as pretty as their photo but still looks and tasted sooooo gooey yummy delicious. It was really fun to do with my daughter, who loves anything involving chocolate and marshmallows.

    S’more Brownies



    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • Pinch fine salt


    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
    • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
    • 4 large cold eggs
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour


    • 4 cups large marshmallows


    Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch.

    For the crust: Lightly butter the foil with some of the melted butter. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, make the brownie. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir, and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. Alternatively, put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Stir the light brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.

    Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares.


    Parting Thoughts

    Try and remember to keep the dinner party planning easy, classy,and affordable. The company and host make it memorable.

    What desserts do you serve at your dinner party? What works and what doesn’t?


    Laura Martinez

    Laura Martinez