Make a Sweets Stadium Your Game-Day Party Centerpiece

Your guacamole will need to find a new bowl this year. Our twist on the traditional savory snack stadium shines the spotlight on dessert.
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Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jackie Alpers ©2016, Television FoodNetwork, G.P.All Rights Reserved

A Football Bash, Starring Dessert

It's not that we're ready to give up the chips, dip, pretzels, and pigs in blanket that normally fill a snack stadium: we love a savory spread. But we're guessing your party guests really enjoy dessert too — so why not make it your party's MVP? With just a few materials, you can easily build the stadium's structure and have plenty of time for the fun part: filling it with loads of your favorite sweets.

 

When choosing what's in your lineup, the sky is truly the limit. We've stuffed our stadium with a bunch of varied, tasty choices that will certainly offer guests the sugar rush they need to fuel them through the big game. Here's how we did it.

Build the Structure

To construct the stadium, start with ten open-top cardboard bins measuring 9 inches by 6 inches by 4 1/2 inches — the ones we used have a slanted opening that mimics the slope of an arena stand. A 12-by-16-inch baking pan will become the field, and paper basket liners (in a fun pattern like gingham or check) add extra festivity to the stadium.

Assemble the cardboard bins in an oval shape, and then line them with the patterned paper or 4-by-8-1/2-inch foil loaf pans, which are helpful for holding hot food.

Enclose the Stadium

Next, take a 22-by-28-inch piece of poster board and cut it lengthwise into 4-1/2-inch-wide strips. Tape the long strips to the outside of the bins with double-stick tape to make the border of the stadium. This will create closed spaces out of the empty spots next to the bins, perfect for even more snacks, condiments or silverware.

Make the Field

Snack stadiums usually enlist guacamole as the bright green field, but we're stealing a trick from Easter for our sweets stadium — coconut "grass." Dissolve a drop or two of green food coloring into 1/2 cup of water. Stir the water into 2 cups of shredded, unsweetened coconut to dye it green. Then, spread the coconut onto a baking sheet to dry.

In the meantime, bake your favorite brownies (may we suggest one of these recipes?) in the 12-by-16-inch baking pan. Frost with chocolate ganache or icing, then sprinkle on the coconut. Pipe yard lines with a squeeze bottle of cookie icing, or use a decorating bag (or a snipped plastic bag) with whatever icing you like. Add rainbow licorice laces to make the yellow endzone lines, and finish with a milk chocolate football (found at most online candy stores).

Chocolate Pretzel Rods

To make the stadium’s "light posts," melt 1 teaspoon of shortening and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a deep bowl or mug in the microwave for 60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds. Line two baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Dip a pretzel rod in the melted chocolate, and then hold it over one of the baking sheets. Coat generously with sprinkles in team colors (the baking sheet will catch any wayward sprinkles or drips). Let the pretzel rods dry on the second baking sheet before wedging them into the corners of the stadium.

Cinnamon Sugar Star Dippers

Dessert dips are indulgent and playful — perfect for a party. Food Network Kitchen's Seven-Layer Dessert Dip tastes just like an ice cream sundae, and pairs well with many dippers, including these sporty, crunchy tortilla stars.

Cut star shapes out of flour tortillas with a cookie-cutter, and arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat. Brush both sides of the stars with melted butter, and then sprinkle with cinnamon and red sanding sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F for five minutes or until lightly browned.

Chocolate Crispy Footballs

Inspired by Food Network Kitchen'sCocoa Krispy Footballs, this dessert is easy to shape — the simple oblong means even kids can help. Spray your hands with cooking spray or coconut oil, then cup the mixture between your two palms to mold it. Use your fingertips to make the pointed ends, and draw the football's seam and lines with cookie icing.

Bready Bites

Treat dessert like appetizers and you can morph classic recipes into fun finger foods. Here we've made two options: angel food cake skewers and French toast bites.

The skewers are super easy: Just slice homemade or store-bought angel food cake into 2-inch pieces then alternate with strawberries. For the French toast bites, slice a baguette into 1” pieces. Dredge in French toast batter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Apricot-and-Almond Chocolate Bark

This pretty chocolate confection easily breaks into pieces for serving a crowd. Melt 16 ounces of chocolate chips in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour the melted chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and spread with a rubber spatula to an even thickness. Press dried apricots into the melted chocolate, then sprinkle with slivered almonds and sprinkles in team colors. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until hard. Break the bark into pieces with a chef’s knife or your hands.

White Chocolate and Peppermint Popcorn

Popcorn's long been a snack that can hop between sweet and savory flavors — but it's always a treat guests will love to eat by the handfuls. Place 5 cups of popped popcorn in a large heatproof bowl. Heat 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips or candy melts in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Pour over the popcorn and toss with a rubber spatula. Add 2 tablespoons of crushed peppermint sticks and sprinkles in team colors, then toss to combine. 

Think Like a Kid

Candy necklaces, salt water taffy and other classic candy (your favorites are likely available online or at specialty shops) will take party-goers right back to their childhood. For sweet quesadillas (which totally sound like an after-school snack you made yourself back in the day, right?), warm flour tortillas for 15 tp 30 seconds in a large skillet. Spread one half of the open-faced tortilla with whipped cream cheese and the other half with Nutella. Fold in half and gobble up.

Pile the Sweets in the Stands

Filling the stands, your sweets turn into a bountiful party centerpiece. Let's take another look at the full spread, clockwise from 12:00:

French Toast Bites, served with syrup for dunking; Peanut Butter Cookies; Chocolate Apricot-Almond Bark; store-bought tropical fruit salsa with baked blue corn chips; sweet quesadillas; candy bracelets and salt water taffy; Cocoa Crispy Footballs; White Chocolate and Peppermint Popcorn; Seven-Layer Dessert Dip with Cinnamon Stars; and Angel Food Cake Skewers. Place your field of brownies in the middle, stand your pretzel "light posts"  in the corners, and you're ready for kick-off.

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