Serious Entertaining: Edible Party Favors


[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

We're coming up on Shower Season, and I'm not talking about the kind I have to take after emerging from the subterranean oven that is the New York City subway station in the summer. No, I'm talking brides, babies, and bright young graduates.

My favorite part of "Shower Season" isn't the tripled opportunities to eat cake, my newly intensified relationship with the salespeople at Bed Bath and Beyond, or even justification to indulge in day drinking. It's the party bags. Seriously, show me a person who doesn't receive a party bag and inwardly think, "Swag! Yeah!" and I'll show you a person who isn't invited to my parties.

In my opinion, the best party favors are edible party favors. A few nibbles of a home-cooked treat is perfect way for your guests to remember all good things they ate at the party and, of course, how talented their host is in the culinary arts. So for all you shower-throwers, here are three edible party favors to give away. And for the guests of honor, congratulations! I hope you enjoy your new blenders.

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

These cheery little muffins are perfect to give away at a brunch party. Each muffin is one soft, lemony bite and the poppy seeds add a little pizzazz. Bonus: These days it's pretty easy to find decorative mini-muffin cups. Writing the recipe on the gift tag is a nice homage to the guest of honor, whether they'll be cooking for themselves for the first time or for a new member of the family.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Fudge Squares


These intense little chocolate confections play on the flavors of German Black Forest Cake: cherry preserves blend with dark chocolate and dried tart cherries stud each square. Chewy, creamy, and melt in your mouth delicious, these are good for guests of all ages. You can easily make these look as good as they taste by setting the fudge in chocolate molds and putting the squares in pretty candy holders. Because they're so rich, I put just three squares in each gift bag.

Sweet and Salty Spiced Nuts


These nuts have an addictive combination of sweet, spicy, and salty. I love how the mix of dark brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and smokey pimenton gets caught in the grooves of the pecans and walnuts, creating a crusty shell of flavor. I added cashews for an extra salty, fatty element. I like to give this away after cocktail parties, knowing they'll most likely be devoured on the way home.