Festive Garnishes

These final touches can really make an impression on your family and friends.

+ enlarge image Piping stars onto waxed paper.

Spoon melted chocolate into a heavy, small plastic bag; cut one corner off the bag. Pipe melted chocolate onto a waxed-paper-lined baking sheet, forming a square. Pipe a second square at a 45-degree angle to the first. Repeat to make as many stars as you want. Let stand until firm. Peel stars from waxed paper.

+ enlarge image Pooled sauce with a border.

Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of a sauce onto each individual dessert plate. Then tilt the plate to spread the sauce into an even layer.

If you like, pipe another sauce around the pooled sauce to make a border.

+ enlarge image Making sugared flowers.

Gently wash fresh edible flowers in water. Place on white paper towels and let air dry or gently blot dry.

Stir together 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon thawed frozen egg product in a small bowl. Using a small, clean paintbrush, brush the egg mixture on each side of each petal in a thin, even layer. Sprinkle each flower evenly with sugar; shake to remove excess sugar. Let flowers dry on waxed paper for 2 to 4 hours. Store in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper for up to 4 weeks. For longer storage, freeze sugared flowers for up to 6 months.

+ enlarge image Coating almond "pinecones" with melted chocolate.

Shape a cone about 1-1/2 inches tall and 1 inch in diameter from almond paste or marzipan. Starting from the wide end, insert halved or sliced almonds into the cone. You can make larger or smaller cones simply by starting with more or less almond paste.

Melt together equal amounts of unsweetened and semisweet baking chocolate (not chocolate pieces) in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Insert two toothpicks into the base of each cone. Hold over pan; spoon melted chocolate over to cover. Transfer cones to wire rack over waxed paper; let stand till firm. Remove toothpicks.

+ enlarge image Two swirled sauces.

You'll need two or three different sauces for this presentation. Choose sauces of different colors but compatible flavors. Spoon each sauce in a different pool near the edge of the plate. Then tilt the plate until the sauces run together. Or swirl the sauces together with a narrow metal spatula.

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