When I think back to some of my most successful parties, I'm reminded that they all have one thing in common: there was an element of surprise incorporated into each event. It might have been within the menu, like serving über casual food to fancier guests, or in an unexpected activity for the kids, like a scavenger hunt or cookie tree centerpiece, or something even simpler like inviting people over for dinner and then opting not to cook at all.
That’s what happened at this particular dinner. I put together an impressive display of food, and didn’t light the stove or turn on the oven once, even when I prepared the dessert. There was store bought loaves of crusty bread; a few favourite salamis and other cured meats; creamy, fragrant cheeses, and those which were a little more kid friendly; bowls of lightly spiced curried couscous, and beet and goat cheese salad; a platter of watermelon, thinly sliced seasonal plums, and dried apricots; and spicy marinated peppers, and salty olives, some of which were stuffed. The meal came to a sweet finish with jam jar parfaits filled with layers of yogurt mousse, macerated peaches, and crunchy gingersnap cookies.
I’m pretty confident that if you had been invited to this dinner party you wouldn’t have complained about the lack of cooking I did. Am I right? The ease with which this came together was ideal for a small summer dinner party, and I was left with nothing to do other than assemble some platters and boil a kettle of hot water for the couscous.
It’s quite interesting to see who chooses what when a meal like this is served, and I can promise you that no two plates looked the same. Add in a few bottles of raspberry tea, sparkling water, and rosé, and I do declare this the easiest dinner party you could throw this season.
Gingersnap Peach Parfaits
The light and slightly sweetened mousse pairs perfectly with the spiced peaches and crunchy cookies to make the easiest dessert you're sure to put together this summer. Feel free to replace the peaches with plums, if desired.
For the mousse:
- ½ teaspoon unflavoured granulated gelatin
- 1 ½ tablespoons hot water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ cups Greek yogurt
For the macerated peaches:
- 2 cups sliced fresh or frozen (thawed) peaches
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
To make the mousse, dissolve the gelatin in hot water. Beat the whipping cream and sugar with a hand or electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the gelatin mixture with the Greek yogurt. Fold in the whipped cream gently but thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
While the mousse is chilling make the macerated peaches by combining the peach slices, brown sugar, and ginger in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
To assemble the parfaits, scatter some of the cookies crumbs on the bottom of bowls, glasses, or jam jars. Top with a few dollops of the mousse, a spoonful of the peaches, and more cookie crumbs. Repeat the layers one more time, ending with the cookies. Serve immediately.