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A dessert party menu from Giada De Laurentiis

Add a sweet twist to happy hour with the girls! Celeb chef Giada De Laurentiis serves up party hosting tips with refreshing tangy martinis and a light, fluffy make-ahead frozen treat.

Frozen meringue cake with raspberry-balsamic syrup  Photo by Roberto Caruso

Frozen meringue cake with raspberry-balsamic syrup and Lemon & vodka martinis
Photo by Roberto Caruso

Giada De Laurentiis grew up in her nonno’s restaurant in Rome before studying at Le Cordon Bleu. The Emmy winner has published nine cookbooks and created her own line of cookware. Find out what her tricks are for being the perfect party host (and guest!).

When you go to someone’s home for dinner, what do you take?
I always like to take a treat, so I often make dessert. Or I’ll throw together a basket of ingredients to make a special cocktail. I adore giving gifts, and I always make the time to pick a perfect hostess gift.

What’s your approach to hosting?
I would call it California-style casual elegance: comfortable and welcoming without being overdone.

What do you love about the recipes you’ve shared with us?
I’m really into martinis these days, especially my lemon and vodka martini: It’s light, packs a punch but doesn’t overpower the food. And for dessert, I love the meringue cake. Since it’s frozen, you can make it ahead and serve it whenever you want. And it’s so simple — just meringue, whipped cream and a tangy-sweet raspberry-balsamic syrup — but it’s one of those dishes that make people go “WOW!”

What are some of your other fave dinner party dishes?
I like to plan a menu where I can make most things in advance. I don’t want to be fussing around in the kitchen at the last minute. Don’t try a new recipe when you have friends coming over — experiment on your family instead, in case disaster strikes! And I always create a signature cocktail. It tells guests that I took the time to think of something just for them.

Can you share your dream dinner guests with us?
It wouldn’t be dinner — it would be tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen and Prince William!