Ina's Country Dessert Platter

The Country Dessert Platter from this episode is super easy to prepare!

This is an incredibly easy platter to arrange, even if you don’t have time to bake! Buy a delicious and beautiful assortment of cookies, bars, and pastries from your local bakery and you’re almost done. At Barefoot Contessa, I choose things that are both colorful and easy to eat with fingers. Remember, lots of baked goods look delicious on their own, but grouped together, they can look very brown. I mix colorful things like lemon bars, pecan bars, brownies, cookies, strawberries, figs, and slices of lemon cake.

Start with a platter that is round or oval and particularly one that is very flat. I like to use something simple, such as silver or china. Place doilies on the bottom of the platter. Cut each cake or bar into large bite-sized pieces; pastries cut too small tend to look like a dog’s breakfast, too large and the platter looks unapproachable. I like to cut our large brownies into two finger-sized pieces and to cut the slices of cake in half.

The design of the platter is very simple. I follow good Japanese principles. “Earth” is a solid element, which grounds the design; “sky” is something taller, which curves upward; and “water” is something spilling forward. In all good design, the eye wants to be drawn to one focal point. I arrange slices of cake down the middle of the platter to give the arrangement grounding. I place the pastries in paper muffin cups and arrange them in a flowing pattern around the cake. Then I pile strawberries and figs or grapes high to give some height to the design. Then I add some cookies and lemon or hydrangea leaves to fill in the spaces.

I tend to prefer platters that appear more casual than formal. There’s a fine balance, however, between casual and just plain messy. I think if you follow these simple steps, no matter which pastries or fruit you use, you will be thrilled with the results.

Note:  For this episode, Ina used pecan bars, coffee chocolate bars, a round shortbread, a round chocolate cookie, biscotti and long-stemmed strawberries.


1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved


Yield: Varies, depending on amount of ingredients

Total Time: 15 minutes

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