The sweetest thing: 11 easy dessert ideas for a dinner party to impress

by | Sep 7, 2021 | Featured

It’s a scientific fact we have two stomachs, if you include the secret second stomach that always magically has room for dessert (which we most certainly do). 

When the dinner party mains are cleared away and the dinner table is primed for the final course, you – the host with the most – want to leave your guests with the most delicious last impression.

So, how do you impress a sweet tooth who has sampled it all? That foodie friend who frequents every hot new restaurant the night it opens?

We’ve gathered 11 delicious dinner party dessert ideas that are bona fide showstoppers, from upgrades on the classic chocolate cake to tarts with a touch of campfire magic (please sir, can I have s’mores?) 

Fair warning: you may want to have some emergency chocolate handy while reading this one. 

Oh, and if you don’t want to go digging for dinner party dessert recipes and would rather leave it up to the professionals, our private chefs are always on hand to whip up a sweet finale while catering your next get-together.   

TASTY TARTS

apple taste with one slice served and a scoop of ice cream on top
an apple tart a day keeps the doctor away

Salted caramel apple tart à la mode

On the scale of apple crumble to a French tarte tatin, an apple tart sits somewhere in the middle. It’s an easy dinner party finale that feeds plenty (don’t forget to hide a slice away for tomorrow’s afternoon tea – that’s a host perk).

You can go big and make one party-sized tart, or create individual servings for your guests. Whichever way you go, don’t skimp on that brown butter caramel sauce as a gooey bed for your apples to rest on. 

To serve? Make it a tart à la mode with a generous scoop of vanilla bean  ice cream. 

Rich chocolate tart with torched rocky road topping

Sure the custard tart is a classic, but nobody has EVER been disappointed when presented with a chocolate tart for dessert. It takes just a few ingredients to make a simple chocolate tart, and a handful more to turn it into something really special. 

For a delicious dessert that leaves a lasting impact, top your tart with a mountain of homemade rocky road. Get creative and make the rocky road your own with your choice of nuts (pistachios add a vibrant pop), biscuit pieces, dried fruit, or little lollies.

Once your tart and rocky road topping have been set in the fridge, carefully use a blow torch to roast the marshmallow for major s’mores vibes. 

PIE TIME

lemon meringue pie before and after toasting with blood orange on the board
the magic of the meringue

Lemon meringue pie with gingernut crust

Ah, lemon meringue – the king of all lemon desserts. There’s nothing like a lemon meringue pie to bring everyone around the dinner table. Tangy, creamy, biscuity, this pie has it all. 

The only way you could possibly improve on perfection is to make the base out of gingernut cookies for a touch of sweet, gingery heat. And if you’re in short supply of lemons, try another beautiful citrus like blood orange. 

The best thing about pies is they’re the perfect make-ahead dessert and ideal picnic food, if you’re less about the dinner party scene and more about the long, alfresco lunch. 

When life gives you lemons, try lemon meringue pie’s zesty cousin, Key Lime Pie from our menu: Bryce’s American Favourites. 

key lime pie with fresh lime, mint and edible flowers
Gathar’s glorious key lime pie

Peanut butter pie with a chocolate peanut brittle topping

Want to know the secret to hosting one of those dinner parties everyone raves about for weeks to come? Surprise your guests with a show-stopping dessert!

And how do you stop the show? Three words: Peanut. Butter. Pie. Chocolate peanut is a timeless flavour combo and there’s nothing like a creamy peanut butter pie with a crunchy chocolate peanut brittle shattered on top to get tongues wagging.

If you’re looking for a healthier (or potentially vegan) alternative, coconut cream mud pie is an easy way to substitute cream cheese for coconut cream. 

CLASSIC CAKES

Decadent chocolate cake, salted caramel sauce & milk chocolate tuile

Start with an easy chocolate cake recipe and make it decadent by adding oozy, gooey, salty, sweet salted caramel sauce and – pièce de résistance – a milk chocolate tuile. 

A tuile is a thin, wafer-like cookie that is pliable when hot and can be twisted or wrapped around a rolling pin to elevate any simple dessert. 

The best thing about this dessert is you can use any of your favourite cake recipes with a couple of fancy touches that don’t require you to be in the kitchen for the entire dinner party. It can easily be adapted into a celebration cake too, if you’re gathering for a special occasion.

Love an easy chocolate dessert? It doesn’t get easier than enjoying our Flourless Chocolate Gateaux at the end of a Gathar French Classics experience.

plated chocolate cakes with chocolate icing, cream and fresh berries
Death by chocolate gateaux, Gathar style

Crème brûlée chocolate cheesecake

If you’re looking for a dessert to impress, this is definitely it. Crème brûlée? Chocolate? Cheesecake? What’s not to love!?

Start with any chocolate cheesecake recipe (they’re all much the same: biscuitty base, cream cheese filling blitzed with chocolate in the trusty food processor…) 

The important part here is the beautiful brûlée top with its satisfying crack. Once your cheesecake has set in the fridge overnight and you’re ready to serve, evenly sprinkle superfine sugar on top and very carefully torch until caramelised. Et voilà: crème brûlée cheesecake! 

Feeling hungry? Have a peek at the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake on The Elevated BBQ menu, or Creme Brulee from Gathar French Classics. 

Vanilla bean cheesecake with frilled peaches and thyme
Ain’t nothing vanilla about Gathar’s vanilla bean cheesecake

SOMETHING FANCIER

Dark chocolate panna cottas with freeze dried chocolate raspberry

Panna cotta is one of the most popular Italian desserts. Literally meaning ‘cooked cream’, these jiggly little pyramids of sweet cream and gelatin are light and silky, most often flavoured with rich vanilla bean and served with a berry coulis.

Panna cotta is delightful in its classic form but we’re talking party desserts here, and there’s no such thing as a party without chocolate! 

Add some good quality unsweetened dark chocolate to your creamy panna cotta mixture for a luxurious upgrade. If you can get your hands on it from a gourmet grocer, freeze dried chocolate raspberry is the absolute ideal topping, but fresh berries will still do the trick. 

Indulge in a little dolce with Gathar: finish your Grande Italian Festa with Limone Cannoli di Ricotta, or enjoy a slice of Lemon Ciambella Cake from our When In Sicily menu. 

Fluffy yellow cake being cut and served
Say ciao to Gathar’s lemon ciambella cake

Classic lemon eton mess with white chocolate shavings

Eton mess is a traditional English dessert, but to us it will always be the cheat’s pavlova. Eton mess is an easy dessert to create if you’re having people over and is best served the day it’s made. 

If you’re a little hesitant at the thought of making meringue, fear not! Eton mess is definitely a dinner party dessert that won’t see you spend all night in the kitchen, especially if you use store-bought meringues (we won’t tell). 

Layers of sugary meringue, thick dollops of whipping cream, zesty lemon curd and shavings of smooth white chocolate? You’re onto a winner here.

Rather a classic pav over an eton mess? The Summer Pavlova from our 3-Course Coastal menu is for you. 

Person in apron drizzling berry compote over pavolva topped with fresh berries
Is it really summer if you don’t have Gathar’s summer pavolva?

PERFECT PUDDINGS

Rice pudding with rose-infused cherry compote

Rice pudding is one party dessert recipe that has the power to conjure all the nostalgic feels –  but this isn’t your Nan’s rice pudding. 

Make your classic rice pudding the night before your get-together, popping in a ¼ teaspoon of rosewater into the creamy rice mixture as well as the same amount into the cherry compote for a decadent twist. 

Cherry and rose is a beautiful, exotic flavour combination that will wow your guests with minimal effort. If you want to up the ante, add some cocoa powder to turn it into a chocolate pudding, or serve with a devilish chocolate mousse. 

Love the sound of this? Check out the Rosewater Catalan from our Simple Meets Extraordinary menu. Ooh la la!

Six bowls of creme brulee catalan with pink Persian fairy floss
One of Gathar’s greats: Rosewater Catalan

Passionfruit bread and butter pudding

The sun is shining and the vines are loaded with and you’re looking for an easy and delicious dessert to whip out at your next par-tay. 

Sounds like you need a little passionfruit bread and butter pudding in your life. Try making it with croissants or sourdough fruit loaf instead of standard sliced and buttered bread, and keep in mind you can substitute passion fruit for any other citrus, too. 

This creamy, zingy, self-saucing pudding is one of the easiest summer desserts to whip up, especially if you’re cooking with kids. Little hands love layering the bread and pouring in the custard!

Bread pudding, but make it Italian with our Panettone Pudding from Nonna’s Gourmet Feast menu.

A FUN FINALE

Ice cream sundae with choc chip and chocolate ice cream, cookies and chocolate sauce
We wish every day was sundae

Ice cream sundae with warmed chocolate brownies & smashed chocolate chip cookies 

Real talk: how long has it been since you’ve had an ice cream sundae? Whatever your answer, it’s probably way too long. 

An ice cream sundae is up there on the list of easy dessert recipes, but it’s equally one of the most enjoyable for dinner party guests. A super easy and super fun idea is to set up a sundae station where guests can build their own. 

Create a whole load of toppings like warmed chocolate brownies (or cookies and cream brownies if you want to be really extra) cut into bite-sized pieces, crumbled chocolate chip cookies hot from the oven, salted caramel sauce, melted milk chocolate buttons… let your imagination (and your guests) run wild! 

Want entertaining without all the hassle? At Gathar, we bring the chef to you! Browse our curated menus and our Gathar concierge team will take care of every delicious detail, starting with matching you with the perfect private chef.