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; lapetitepearle.com).
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.
Keebler's buttery new Town House Toppers have a raised edge to neatly hold in fillings ($3.50; keebler.com).
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; laquercia.us).
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; eclatchocolate.com). Jin Patisserie's new caramels come in exceptional flavors like clove ($21 for nine; jinpatisserie.com).