Wayne's Weekend: Dessert Medley For A Holiday Buffet

Create a trio of single serve desserts to give your guests sweet options after a big holiday meal.

As the holidays approach, so does menu planning for big holiday meals.  For larger gatherings I thought it would be nice to create a buffet of single serve desserts so that guests have options at the end of the big feast.  It’s also an easy way for guests to serve themselves.  Here are three suggestions that represent a nice range of flavors and compliment each other very well.  And, if you decide not to do a buffet, creating any one of these would make a tasty finish to a special meal.

Individual Apple Cranberry Crisps
makes eight 8oz crisps



3/4 cu All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cu Light Brown Sugar
1 cu Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (not instant/or quick versions)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cu Butter, melted


6 med Granny Smith Apples, about 3lbs
1 cu Dried Cranberries
Zest of 1/2 Orange
3 tbl Orange Juice
2 tbl Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine (you can substitute 1 tsp Vanilla if you like)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cu Flour
1/3 cu Granulated Sugar
1 tbl Butter, diced

additional ingredients and equipmant

eight 8 oz Ramekins
Vanilla Ice Cream, optional, for serving


Place cranberries in a medium sized bowl.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Pour about 1 cup of boiling water over cranberries and let them sit for about 10 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Put orange zest, orange juice, apple pie moonshine in a large bowl.  Peel, core and cut apples into medium sized pieces.  Add cut apples to the large bowl as you cut them, tossing them in the mixture  with each new addition.  Drain cranberries and add them to the mixture.  Divide the apple mixture among the 8 ramekins.  Separately, mix together 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.  Spoon mixture over apples.  Dot each ramekin with a bit of the diced butter. 

In a separate bowl, mix together topping ingredients.  Spread the topping over the ramekins.  Bake ramekins for 30-35 minutes or until filling is bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool slightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  These are great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Pumpkin Mousse
makes 6 individual servings



Boiling Water
1 pkg Gelatin
1 tbl Bourbon
2 cu Chilled Whipping Cream
4 lg Egg Yolks
3 tbl Sugar
1 cu Canned Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Vanilla Extrack
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt


1 cu Whipping Cream
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1/2 cu Confectioners Sugar
1/4 cu Crushed Graham Crackers
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

additional equipment

six 8oz Wine Glasses
Instant read thermometer or candy thermometer


Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Measure 1/4 of a cup of the boiling water and pour over gelatin in a medium sized bowl.  Add Bourbon and set aside.

Whisk yolks and sugar in a medium sized bowl until smooth and creamy.  Separately, Heat 3/4 cup of cream until hot but not boiling.  Slowly whisk cream into egg mixture and continue whisking until smooth.  Transfer mixture to a saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 160 F.  Remove from heat and pour through a fine sieve into a large bowl.  Add Gelatin mixture along with cinnamon and ginger.  Stir in pumpkin and place mixture in the refrigerator. 

Whip the remaining cream until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold pumpkin mixture into whipped cream.  Once fully incorporated, place mixture into a large disposable bag.  Cut out one corner and pipe the mixture into the wine glasses.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Prior to serving, whip the 1 cup of whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Gradually blend in mascarpone cheese.  Add confectioners sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until fully incorporated.  Place whipped cream in a disposable bag.  Cut out one corner and pipe the mixture on top of the pumpkin mousse. 

Mix crushed graham crackers and cinnamon and sprinkle on top.

Chocolate Swirl Mini Cheesecakes
makes ten 3" cheesecakes



12 Whole Graham Crackers
10 tbl Butter, melted


3/4 cu Granulated Sugar
20 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
3 lg Eggs, resting at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 tbl Bourbon, like Maker's Mark
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Salt
2 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate

Special Equipment

3” circular baking rings about 3” tall
parchment paper cut into ten 11” x 3” strips


Place the rings on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Line the inside of each ring with a strip of parchment paper.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grind graham crackers into crumbs either using a food processor or by breaking them up inside of disposable bag using a food can.  Combine crumbs with the butter and mix thoroughly.  Distribute crumbs among the 10 rings. Press the crumbs down to create a flat crust on the bottom.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove form oven and allow them to cool fully.

Melt chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler until just smooth.  Set aside.

Cream together granulated sugar and cream cheese until smooth.  Add mascarpone cheese and continue blending.  Add bourbon, vanilla, lemon juice and salt.  Add in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the chocolate and stir to combine. 

Place the remaining filling in a disposable bag and make a small cut in one corner.  Pipe the filling into the rings.  Place the chocolate mixture into a small disposable bag.  Cut one corner from this bag and place three dots of the chocolate mixture on top of the filling in each ring.  Once completed, use a toothpick or a knife to do a few swirls of the chocolate into the filling.  Don’t overdo it or the chocolate will start to blend into the filling.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until out edges of cheesecakes are set but center still appears soft.  Remove from the oven and let them cool at room temperature for about an hour.  Then place them in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  To serve, remove cheesecakes from the metal ring and unwrap the parchment paper.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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