3 Mini Foods That’ll Make Your Party a Huge Hit

These finger foods are easy to hold and even easier on the eyes.

At your next dinner party, skip the buffet of plated food in favor of mini hor'dourves and desserts. Peter Callahan's new book, Party Food, is filled with witty and enchanting recipes to help you throw your best get-together, regardless of crowd size or cooking skills.


What You'll NeedMakes 20

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 cup warm (110°F) water
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Olive oil, for greasing the bowl
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling


Step 1: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm water and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, the flour, and the 2 teaspoons salt and mix to incorporate the ingredients. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes. Grease a large bowl with olive oil, place the dough ball in the bowl, and turn it to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For a round roll, after the first rise, portion the dough into 1-ounce balls. Slightly flatten each ball and use kitchen shears to snip an X in the top.

Step 2: Punch down the dough and portion into 1-ounce balls (you should have 20). Roll into ropes, then twist into pretzel shapes. (Alternatively, shape into rolls; see Note.) Cover the pretzels with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until puffy, about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 3: In a large pot over high heat, bring 6 cups water and the baking soda to a simmer. Working in batches, carefully drop the pretzels (or rolls) in the water and simmer for 15 to 30 seconds, or until they float. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared sheet. Brush lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with salt. Bake for 1 to 2 minutes, or until just beginning to color. Brush quickly with some of the remaining melted butter and return to the oven to bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and brush once more with butter after baking. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Remove the pretzels and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes. Reline the baking sheet with fresh parchment

Cheese Filling

  • 4-ounce block of Gruyère cheese
  • 4 ounces corned beef
  • ¼ cup Russian Dressing (recipe follows)
  • ½ cup chopped sauerkraut, very well drained


Step 1: Slice the Gruyère and the corned beef into 40 squares each to fit the pretzels and set aside. When the pretzels have cooled, split them in half. Spread each half with Russian dressing and assemble into sandwiches with 2 slices of cheese, 2 slices of corned beef, and a pinch of sauerkraut. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and warm in the oven just long enough to heat through and melt the cheese, 2 to 3 minutes.

Russian DressingMakes about 1½ cups

  • 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise or
  • eggless mayonnaise substitute
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish


Step 1: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish and stir to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use.


What You'll NeedMakes about 48

Funfetti Cake

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 3¹⁄³ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4¹⁄³ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1½ cups milk, at room temperature
  • 3 cups rainbow sprinkles

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rainbow sprinkles


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 18 × 13-inch baking sheet and line it with parchment.

Step 2: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Gradually add the flour and baking powder and mix on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add the egg whites and mix on medium speed until well combined, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the milk, mixing on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the sprinkles.

Step 3: Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the cake is golden brown and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert the cake over a cooling rack and let cool completely. Peel off the parchment.

Step 4: In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the salt and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, about 2 minutes. Cut 4-inch circles of cake from the sheet (you should have 12). Spread 6 circles with buttercream. Top with the remaining 6 circles and frost the tops (but leave the sides bare). Sprinkle the tops with the rainbow sprinkles. When ready to serve, cut each circle into 8 wedges.

Place the assembled cakes in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to facilitate cutting.


What You'll Need

Makes 12 to 16 bacon pigs (depending on bacon shape)

  • 12 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 2: Line a quarter-sheet pan with parchment paper and lay the bacon strips on the parchment. Place another sheet of parchment and then a second quarter-sheet pan on top of the bacon to keep it flat.

Step 3: Bake until the bacon is almost cooked but still flexible, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and uncover the bacon. With a 2-inch pig-shaped cookie cutter, cut the bacon into as many pig shapes as possible. You may have to use a paring knife to make the edges clean. Return the uncovered bacon to the oven and cook to the desired doneness, another 5 minutes or so. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.

Step 4: Prepare the Apple Bourbon Fizz as directed and pour into mini copper mugs. With kitchen shears, cut a small slit in the bottom of each pig and attach one to the rim of each mug.

Apple Bourbon FizzMakes 12

  • 1 quart fresh apple juice
  • 1 cup honey
  • 5 ounces bourbon
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Chilled sparkling water

Step 1: In a large pitcher, mix the apple juice, honey, bourbon, and lemon juice. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Pour into mugs and top off each cocktail with sparkling water to taste.

Recipe excerpted with permission from Party Food: Mini Hors d'oeuvres, Family-Style Settings, Plated Dishes, Buffet Spreads, Bar Carts by Peter Callahan, published by Clarkson Potter August 2017, RRP $21.36.

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