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11 Secrets to Easy Parties

Elegant Cocktail-Party Solution

La Petite Pearle offers perfect samplers of exceptionally fresh-tasting American roes (our favorite is the Transmontanus Rex from Idaho), blini and crème fraîche (from $26 a sampler;

Candy Craving

Dark chocolate is having its moment, with new versions of classic American candies like M&M'S and Raisinets. Hershey's dark-chocolate Cacao Reserve bars are a fresh take on the old-fashioned ones.

Pie Crust Winner

Pillsbury was the all-around winner in F&W's taste test of ready-made pie crusts. We found that both its already-rolled pie crust and Pet-Ritz pie-crust-in-a-pan cook evenly, and are lightly sweet and flaky.

Smart Cracker

Keebler's buttery new Town House Toppers have a raised edge to neatly hold in fillings ($3.50;

New for the Charcuterie Platter

Iowa-based La Quercia makes amazing culaccia—a kind of ultrameaty, superluscious prosciutto—from heirloom-breed Berkshire hogs ($24 a pound;

Stuck on Caramels

Our favorite dessert caramels: Christopher Elbow's turtles are sprinkled with fleur de sel ($15 for six; 816-842-1300). éclat Chocolate's truffles are filled with oozing caramel and spiked with spicy ginger or Calvados ($18 for 12; Jin Patisserie's new caramels come in exceptional flavors like clove ($21 for nine;

Published November 2006


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