The Dairy-Free Dinner Party That Was

Just over two weeks ago a friend and myself decided to throw a small dinner party a.k.a gastronomical feast, for our friends. There was however, one tinsy tiny teeny little catch… My friend is dairy intolerant… poor thing… so this three course extravaganza needed to be completely and utterly dairy-free down to the tiniest last morsel or my friend (who shall remain nameless) would have an upset…. digestive system… to put it nicely… So what do you serve at a dairy free dinner party? Good question… we decided to stick to recipes that were ‘naturally’ dairy-free, that is they didn’t contain any dairy substitutes… which proved even more difficult and quite unavoidable, especially when it came to dessert… aaaahhh dessert… now that was an interesting story…

Finishing touches ready for our guests...

A few posts back Bakerella had made these dainty little.. oh so simple… chocolate dessert cups which looked adorable and would be the perfect little holsters for our delicate and dairy-free poached pears… The concept was profound really… you take a whole lot of water balloons and blow them up, dip them in melted chocolate (the very dark 85% stuff with as little dairy as possible), let them cool and then “simply” pop the water balloons and ta-dah a dainty little chocolate cup that just screams stuff me with a poached pear and call me a delightful dairy -free dessert…

So of we went, blowing up our tiny little water balloons and melting our very expensive, good quality chocolate… getting ourselves all set to make our dainty little cups…. maybe we were just too eager or just a little giddy over the cuteness of these little chocolate sweeties… either way neither of us were thinking straight… you see instead of reading the instructions on the Bakerella site we just looked at the pictures (as all good cooks do…) and failed to see the very important step of letting the chocolate cool before popping our teeny little balloons into the chocolate…

…my husband tells me that for some strange and stupid reason, unbeknownst to me… when you take a little ball of air and pop it in some hot melted chocolate… the air expands and our teeny tiny little balloons explode and shower melted chocolate all over the kitchen… all over us.. a heavily cherished John Mayer t-shirt (had to put that one in)… the floor… the walls.. the oven.. the cupboards and even more hilarious… our faces…

Needless to say it was a disaster… you would think then we would step back… have a little think… maybe go back to the website and read the instructions… but no.. “hmmm” we though to ourselves, “I wonder why it did that” (between fits of giggles) “maybe we should try another one?” (let me just add a little side note: at this stage we had already thoroughly cleaned the kitchen of all remnants of chocolate as well as the John Mayer t-shirt).. as the baking pioneers that we were, undefeated we attempted to smother another little balloon in chocolate… this one made it to the baking tray! Success!

Or so we thought…. an explosion of chocolate and yet again my kitchen… face… entire body.. walls, floor, cupboards… and the John Mayer t-shirt… were smothered in itty bitty splashes of very expensive dark chocolate…. this time we didn’t clean up… 6 more explosions later we decided to give it a rest and get on with the rest of the food prep….

It wasn’t until husband came home about 1hr before dinner party begins and suggests maybe.. just maybe.. the water balloons were meant to be filled with water… not air.. and continued to melt the rest of the chocolate and managed to muster up some dainty little chocolate cups for our dinner party (how he got the water out of those balloons and all over the kitchen floor is another story)..

To this day I am still encountering tiny little flecks of chocolate all over my kitchen…


For starters we got some packet mini crostini bread things…. from the supermarket and topped them with a little tofutti cream cheese (a tasty little tofu based cream cheese), sliced tomato and a basil leaf.. they went down a treat.

Our first course was a roasted red onion tart with a little rocket salad on top… The pastry was just a simple shortcrust pastry substituting the butter with some nuttelex (another nut based spread)… I found the pastry came out a little grainy and flakey.. not sure what went wrong but I’d recommend the butter next time. The onions we roasted with a little oil and some salt and rosemary and leave them for longer than you think so they are nice and caramelised. We popped them in the tart cases and tossed a little rocket with balsamic and oil and piled it on top… for the dairy eaters a bit of shaved parmesan finished it off nicely…

The pasta was a bit of an experiment.. we roasted a little pumpkin and mashed in some salt, goats cheese, and cooked spinach until the flavour and consistency was good..

Pasta is simple… 6 people = 6 eggs + 600g flour… stir it up with your fingers till you have a nice smooth dough and let it rest…

…put through a pasta machine till nice and thin, then shape into ravioli… fill them nice and full and don’t let any air in… if you’re interested I’ll do a longer post on the delightfulness that is fresh pasta making!

We cheated and put a bottle sauce.. but we tossed through a few cherry tomatoes before spooning it over the pasta…

Finally for the pears.. we made a sugar syrup and through in a few cinnamon quills, orange juice and vanilla extract.. we peeled and pulled the core out of the base of the pear and I think they were poaching for about 2 hrs… really yummy! I think next time I might try to do them in a grape juice to get that nice burgundy colour…

Things I Learnt:

– If you heat up air it expands… and if that air is inside a tiny little water balloon.. it pops.

– Dairy free pastry is not impossible… though I wouldn’t recommend it.

– Goats cheese is dairy free and not as goaty as one might think :D..

– There is nothing better than fresh pasta made and shared with friends… and dairy free..

– Baking is for sharing and sharing creates memories…

Bake, share, love.

4 thoughts on “The Dairy-Free Dinner Party That Was

  1. hehe šŸ™‚ looks like fun šŸ™‚
    question: doesn’t chocolate (even dark chocolate) have dairy in it?

  2. Dinner parties can be stressful at the best of times. Cooking for guests with food allergies can be even more difficult. This is the perfect dinner party dish. Dairy free food is good for health.

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