Bank holidays, birthdays and get togethers require a lot of planning and prepping which can turn into a lot of stress for the host. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s the truth. Yet, we continue doing it because we enjoy getting together and we like to impress and ensure everyone has a good time.

The key is to be able to prep ahead of time so you can enjoy time with your guests when they arrive.

We’ve chosen a cute approach to dinner party prep which will wow your guests and give you time to mingle: shot-sized appetisers and desserts!

The idea is to prep your appetizers or desserts in small shot-sized glasses and cups so they are ready to serve, bite-sized and beautiful. Having individual portions makes each portion look beautiful without spending time (at the gathering) plating up, and means your guests can try a bit of everything, move around the room and keep chatting.

Dessert cups can be bought in large supermarkets or online and come in different shapes. Think of your recipes as you choose your shapes, and ideally choose shapes that have a large opening at the top as it will make serving easier for you.

Choosing recipes

First of all, keep it simple: choose just a few flavours, as they will all be in one or two bites.

Stick to fresh flavours such as fresh herbs as your cups will likely be eaten cold, and fresh herbs or fruit will have the best effect.


The beauty of such glasses is playing with colours. More than ever, you want the colours to pop and contrast with each other.

You can use natural colours such as greens, beets, pumpkin, or carrot and contrast them with white cream cheese, yoghurt, tartar cream or tzatziki or add a colourful garnish to a white element.

Layering and volume

When layering your elements or ingredients, think of which is heavier and plan ahead so they don’t mix (or put the first layer in the freezer to harden before adding the next one). If you need an element to be thicker than another, think of using heavy cream.

For the layering to get its full effect, you need to fill the cups slowly and ensure it goes all the way into the edges. Depending on the size and opening of your cups, piping may be easier or using a very small spoon, and then pushing it into corners with a knife or chopstick.

Any creamy elements on top can be piped on for extra volume and effect.

Details and toppings

With such small portions, the recipe doesn’t have to be intricate, everything lies in the details and the finishing touches, so think of the toppings you may want to use.

You can add croutons, a colourful spice (or cacao in desserts), toothpicks with an olive or tomato, fresh herbs, cucumber or carrot ribbons, nuts, zest, a dollop of cream for a gazpacho, a cheese cracker… the options are endless.

Just think about how long ahead you prep; some toppings could be prepared but added at the last minutes so croutons don’t get soggy and cacao doesn’t dilute into the top layer.

Some recipe ideas

In the cups we made:

  • Simple potato salad with olive or pickle on top
  • Pumpkin or carrot soup with a dash of cream and a nut or cheese cracker on top
  • Tomato mozzarella (or feta) with basil leaf
  • Hummus (natural, beetroot) with veg stick
  • Guacamole with smoked salmon or tuna
  • Quinoa tabbouleh
  • Gazpacho with cream
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Strawberries and cream
  • Chocolate and coffee mousse
  • Coconut cream with strawberries
  • Cinnamon and apple pie
  • Upside down peach crumble
  • Cinnamon rice pudding
  • Chocolate mousse with praline
  • Yoghurt with caramelised bananas

All pretty straight forward, right? That’s because it is! You can prep the elements and then assemble it all, keep in in the fridge and just add your toppings before serving, if necessary. Voilà!

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