How do you decide what to serve?
Choose what you know everybody in the
room loves. The safest bet is a white cake.
The number-two safe bet is chocolate.
What goes best with what foods?
I don’t usually consider pairings when it
comes to the main dish and dessert. That said,
there are desserts that work best in certain
seasons: Carrot and spice cakes are beautiful
for October and November. Red velvet and
white cakes are lovely for Christmas. White
cakes, cupcakes and lemon cakes are perfect
for spring. And think of shortcakes, tartlets
and fruit desserts for summer.
The beautiful thing about cobblers and
trifles is that they are safe bets year-round.
They can be served cold in the summer and
warm in the winter as a comfort food.
Is there a proper timing for serving?
If you’re entertaining a big crowd, serve
dessert right after dinner with coffee. But
sometimes you might want to retire to the
living room and have dessert on a sofa. It
depends on whether you want a relaxed
or more formal setting. The only rule is not
What about presentation?
I always use a cake as the centerpiece on
my table. It can be beautiful, and a cake
fills your house with that homey, delicious,
wonderful fragrance. We eat first with our eyes
and our noses, then with our palates. Desserts
are beautiful served on a pedestal or in
A cupcake service can be
as easy as a coffee cup turned
upside down with a saucer
on top, for a plate pedestal.
Or it can be as elaborate
as a big cake pedestal
topped with a smaller one.
You place cupcakes around
the bottom, and your
on top. It depends on
what you want to communicate.
Any rules never to be broken?
I always like to double the recipe. There’s
always going to be some nibbling. Making
two desserts gives you one serving for now
and one for later, and definitely ensures that
you always have enough. Somebody is going
to want seconds, and somebody’s little fingers
are going to get into those cupcakes when
you’re not looking.