by David Burtka
106 killer recipes, 16 creative party themes, and 250 gorgeous photos--plus playlists and easy planning tips--make LIFE IS A PARTY the indispensable cookbook and guide for home cooks.
Chef, actor, and entertaining authority David Burtka knows that every day can be a party. Over a lifetime of throwing epic gatherings, the Cordon Bleu-trained Burtka has perfected the formula for creating easy and perfect get-togethers at home. Now, in the pages of his debut cookbook, he's sharing all of his secrets and an intimate look into the lives of one of Hollywood's favorite families. Everything you need to throw a memorable party, or to make a delicious weeknight meal, can be found right here.
Whether your event and budget are modest or you're going all-out, and whether the guest list is an intimate crew or it's a blowout bash, David's sixteen party themes-from cozy game nights at home to elegant New Year's fêtes-are built around doable, show-stopping menus that take the guesswork out of high-impact hosting. Complete with endless and fun ways to mix-and-match dishes, create stunning decor, prep ahead, and get guests involved, David helps you put all the elements in place to make every party a success without ever losing your cool.
At the heart of the book are David's amazing recipes, including delicious twists on comfort classics like Corn Cakes with Bacon Jam, Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, and Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich Cake. And you don't need to wait for a party to try recipes like Ham, Egg, and Cheese Calzones; Mint Pesto Pasta; and Thyme and Gruyère Popovers. Never one to miss the opportunity to toast friends and family, David also shows you how to make delicious cocktails for a crowd: think Mojito Slushies, Charred Peach and Plum Sangria, and Cucumber-Lime Spritzers. So raise a glass and get cooking! Because there's no better time than now to make your life a party.
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Active Time: 45 minutes | Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
(includes cooling and freezing time)
For a big show, pour the alcohol on the cakes, serve them, and have every adult light their own.
You can put the whole meringue in the freezer and pull it out the next day; that way everything will be assembled and ready to go.
For the Dark Chocolate Cake
- Canola oil cooking spray
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, such as black cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup hot, strong black coffee
- 2 pints cookies-and-cream ice cream, softened
For the Meringue
- 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup 100-proof (or higher) brandy (optional)
- 2-1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, small kitchen torch or matches
1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch metal cake pan with cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, and spray the paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and oil. Gently stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the hot coffee and stir until the batter is completely smooth.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until puffed and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Invert the cake out of the pan onto a large cutting board, countertop, or other clean, flat surface.
4. Use a 2-1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut 12 circles out of the cake and place them on a small baking sheet. Use a 2-ounce (1/4-cup) scoop to portion leveled mounds of ice cream on top of each cake round. Set the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until the cake and ice cream are completely frozen, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
5. Make the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer), combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and scraped vanilla seeds. Whip on medium-high speed until the egg whites are foamy, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then whip until the egg whites hold stiff, glossy peaks and there are no longer granules of sugar in the meringue, 6 to 7 minutes.