7 Ways to Upgrade Store-Bought Desserts So They're Celebration Worthy
As much as we look forward to pouring all our love into every recipe and dish we serve during the holiday season, sometimes we just don't have enough time (or a large enough oven) to do it all. Don't fret. When you find yourself in front of the grocery store's bakery, save yourself some time and effort and pick up store-bought cakes, pies, and other sweet treats that catch your eye. Then, add simple touches that will make them holiday-ready. Here, 7 genius ways to dress up store-bought desserts.
1. Homemade Whipped Topping
A slice of pie is just a slice of pie until it's topped with a dollop of fluffy, sweet whipped cream — then it becomes an indulgent dessert experience.
Whipping up a homemade whipped cream with which to top your store-bought pie is an easy way to take your dessert to the next level. You can try a simple, classic whipped cream or dress it up further with bourbon, maple syrup, or even a liqueur like hazelnut or peppermint.
2. Creative Cuts
You know the sheet cake you purchased is delicious, but it's just… a sheet cake. However, with help from a few festive cookie cutters you can turn a store-bought sheet cake into a dessert fit for a five-star restaurant.
Pull out your trees, stars, mittens and bells (even round or oval cookie cutters will make a statement), and use them to cut pieces of the cake before you serve it. If you chill the cake before cutting it will be less likely to crumble, helping you wow your guests with instantly recognizable holiday shapes.
3. Edible Flowers
Nothing will make your loved ones ooo and ahhh like a dessert dressed up with delicate, edible flowers. The good news: These flowers aren't just for the professionals.
Culinary-grade dried flowers are widely available, and they are a genius way to make a grocery store cake or cupcakes earn rave reviews. In addition to flowers, guests will flip for any toppings that look they shouldn't be edible but are. Try decorating with edible glitter, pearls, or gold leaf. They are all guaranteed to make a statement.
4. Fresh Fruit
Even easier and more accessible than edible flowers or glitter, fresh fruit can be a beautiful addition to pre-made desserts. Decorating the outside of a cake with sliced strawberries or the tops of brownies with pretty red raspberries provides a tasty garnish that also adds a pop of freshness to every indulgent bite.
5. A Dressy Dessert Tray
Is your family less of a cake and pie crowd and more into pastries and patisserie (think cannolis, macarons, and tiny layered cakes)? If so, feel free to pick up these bite-sized goodies at the bakery, then simply pop them onto an impressive serving piece, such as a tiered dessert stand or pretty serving trays. Your loved ones will be so awed by the eye-catching presentation and the flavors of the treats that they won't even ask whose oven they came from.
6. Crushed Candies
Cupcakes are perfect for serving at a party, especially one at which guests' taste preferences vary. But cupcakes topped with just frosting can look half finished, while colorful frosting or other toppings like fondant may give away their store-bought status.
The fix: Sprinkle chocolate cupcakes with crushed candy canes, peppermints, or toffee and white cupcakes with caramels or ginger candies (or have some fun with a colored hard candy like Jolly Ranchers). Just make sure you crush the candies (using a food processor or the base of a can) small enough that they will deliver flavor without breaking a tooth.
If you like the look of sprinkles, avoid the generic store-bought look by asking for your dessert sans jimmies. Then, go big with some elevated sprinkles that look anything but basic.
Related: How to Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar
7. Melted Chocolate
What do a slice of cheesecake, a piece of pecan pie, a chocolate chip cookie, and a fruit tart all have in common? They can all be made even more delicious by a drizzle of melted chocolate. Indeed, a drizzle of chocolate can add sweetness and richness to a tray of store-bought cookies or a simple cheesecake with minimal effort on your part. A combination of semisweet, dark, and white chocolate is sure to make your dessert spread an impressive end to your holiday meal.