Prepare for a sparkling, delicious New Year’s Eve

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By Isabella Jackson

New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate 2014 and start 2015 off right.

In recent years, many hosts have chosen to theme parties around silver and gold. These colors offer an air of sophistication, as well as hopes for wealth and prosperity in the year to come. However, preparing food that both tastes delicious and follows the theme is sure to wow the guests.

When serving food at a party, presentation is just as important as taste. These recipes are simple to follow, but can be presented to look quite elegant.

Baked Brie

This recipe has become one of my favorites as an easy appetizer to serve at a party, and it fits well into the menu of any New Year’s Eve gathering.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Brie cheese
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ? teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Variety of crackers or apples

Directions:

  1. In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat.
  2. Stir in the walnuts until they are completely coated with butter.
  3. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and honey, and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.
  4. Immediately pour over wheel of cheese that is arranged on a pie plate.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes

Recipe adapted from www.itisgoodtoknow.com.

I served the cheese on a platter and also provided the guests with sliced apples and crackers. Drizzling the honey and walnuts over the top gives the dish an elegant look, while still contributing to the gold theme. It is delicious served warm when the cheese is slightly melted, but it will surely please guests at the party even after it has cooled down.

Crock Pot Hot Chocolate

Traditional drinks can be served with a little New Year’s Eve flair to keep guests warm until midnight.

This hot chocolate is made in a crock pot, with a preparation time of about five minutes, and can stay warm the entire night.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of milk chocolate chips (can also use half semi-sweet)

Directions:

  1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a 5 quart crock pot
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally with whisk, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
  3. Once it is heated through and chocolate is melted, switch the slow cooker to the warm setting. Stir again before serving. (If you have trouble getting the chocolate to melt, turn to high temporarily).

Recipe adapted from wishesanddishes.com.

This recipe makes six to eight servings, but can be easily doubled if a larger crock pot is available.

To serve the hot chocolate, I used a ceramic mug and topped it with whipped cream and gold sprinkles. To offer more options for guests, it is easy to set up a hot chocolate station, with bowls of toppings such as marshmallows, candy canes, sprinkles and caramel or hot fudge sauce.

A Dash of Glitter Cupcakes

This recipe can be made with any type of cake, either from a box mix or homemade. However, I think the best way to start a new year is with chocolate, so I used a chocolate fudge cake mix to prepare cupcakes according to the directions on the box and made buttercream icing from scratch.

Icing ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

  1. Cream the room temperature butter with a hand mixer, the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar gradually.
  2. Next, beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. Finally, pour in milk and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes. The icing should be smooth and spreadable.

Adapted from allrecipes.com.

To top the cupcakes, I created pennants by cutting strips on paper that were ¾ inch wide and 3 inches long. I wrote 2015 on each piece of paper and folded them in half. I used a hot glue gun to glue a toothpick in the fold and set the pennants aside to dry.

I iced the cupcakes using a piping bag to make a swirl design on the top of each cupcake. Then, I sprinkled gold colored sugar, which can be found in the baking aisle at some grocery stores, on the top of each cupcake. Finally, I stuck a pennant in the top of each cupcake and arranged them on a platter.

Isabella can be reached at [email protected]