If you can already feel yourself regretting that Christmas party you have planned to host, stressing about feeding your guests and putting on a good show, look no further. Whether you’re having your inner circle or 50 of your closest acquaintances over to toast the season, TheTaste guide to easy canapés has you sorted!
While there are some excellent pre-made canapé options available (M&S being a Christmas party canapé goldmine), whipping up a few of your own can be very rewarding and have delicious results with less hassle than you think. With no more than 5 ingredients in each, the following can be put together ahead of time and served at room temperature, meaning no one has to slave in the kitchen while guests mingle and get in the spirit.
Your friends will dub you a domestic deity and marvel at your culinary wizadry thinking you were chained to the stove all day and I won’t tell anyone…
Ingredients: Fresh Figs, Cashel Blue/Young Buck, Proscuitto
We’ve all heard of devils on horseback and while they are delicious, there is nothing sexy about prunes no matter how much bacon you wrap them in. A more appealing alternative is to wrap fresh fig halves topped with a little nugget of blue cheese in prosciutto.
This will work with dried figs if you can’t get fresh ones but they really make all the difference. As for cheese, Young Buck is ridiculously good, but some Cashel blue works beautifully too.
Ingredients: Fresh Crab, Endive, Creme Fraiche, Pink Grapefruit
Canapes can be a nightmare for the carb-conscious so it is always a great idea to have a couple of nibbles using lighter vessels like endive or chicory leaves. Crab always feels like an indulgent treat without the hefty caloric price tag, so this canape will keep everyone happy.
Pick up some picked crabmeat, white and brown if you can get it, packets in supermarkets are usually 140-150g in weight. Peel, segment and dice a pink grapefruit and mix in with the crabmeat in a bowl, along with two tablespoons of creme fraiche. Season and squeeze over the juice of half a grapefruit. Place a teaspoon of the mix into endive leaf ‘boats’ and serve.
What’s better than a chocolate truffle? A cheese one my friends. These little truffles are as easy to whip up as they are to eat. All you have to do is roast a punnet of seedless red grapes, at 180C for ten to twelve minutes until just starting to pop. Allow to cool slightly before mixing through 200g goat’s cheese log (rind removed) and 200g soft goat’s cheese.
Pop into the fridge for 30 minutes to harden slightly, then roll into bite size balls. Roll the truffles in toasted, chopped hazelnuts or better yet, pistachios (for festive cheer) et voila!
Ingredients: Black pudding, filo pastry, Bramley Apples, Cider
Black pudding, to me, always tastes a little Christmassy with a subtle clove undertone. This canape plays on that festive favourite spicing with the addition of Bramley apple and cider, all wrapped up in crisp filo pastry ‘crackers’.
This black pudding and apple cracker couldn’t be easier – just peel and chop two large bramley apples into cubes and add to a frying pan on medium heat along with a tube of black pudding, crumbled and removed from its casing. Gently soften for 3-5 minutes before increasing the heat and adding 100ml of cider. Cook for a further minute or two until the cider reduces and you have a dry mixture.
To assemble, simply take a packet of frozen filo, thawed and cut each sheet into six squares of equal size. Brush melted butter on one square and top with another. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of the square and roll from the end closest to you, sealing with butter on the far edge to enclose the filling. Twist each end to resemble a cracker shape.
Place on a lined baking tray and pop in the oven at 200C for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or cold – these are good every way!
Ingredients: Mincemeat, Camembert, filo pastry
I am a sucker for sweet and savoury intermingled in one bite, so these mincemeat and camembert parcels are gifts I am always happy to receive. Slightly more festive than the traditional brie and cranberry pairing, everything about these screams oozy, spiced festive indulgence.
As above, take sheets of filo pastry and cut into squares, doubling sheets up with a thin brushing of butter in between. Pop a teaspoonful of mincemeat of your choice (I love ones with both fruit and nuts for this) and top with a thin square of Camembert, including the rind. Lightly brush each corner with butter and fold inwards towards the filling to make a moneybag shaped parcel. Bake at 200C for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
Ingredients: Baby potatoes, dried porcini, truffle oil
Everybody loves a roast potato, but you can’t exactly pop them into your mouth by hand with a glass of bubbles in the other. Cue hasselbacks – the only way whole potatoes will ever look in any way dainty enough to be an acceptable canapé.
To achieve the ridge effect, simply pop the most petite baby potatoes you can find onto a spoon and slice with a sharp knife – the curve of the spoon prevents the knife from cutting the potato in half. Drizzle with oil and seasoning and pop into the oven on a baking tray, 200C for 35-40 minutes should produce golden harmonica-like results.
These are as easy as can be and can act as a vessel for any seasoning you like – to make mine slightly more sophisticated I have added porcini salt and a drizzle of truffle oil. Porcini salt, although rather posh sounding, is simply a case of taking dried porcini and blitzing in a nutribullet or spice grinder to a fine dust – unrivalled earthy flavour even when used sparingly.
Ingredients: Chorizo, Rioja
This is more of a tapa than a canape, but if it just doesn’t feel like a party without a sausage on a stick, Rioja Braised Chorizo is a slightly grown up version of the cocktail sausage of old. The only caveat is you must opt for thick rounds of chorizo which you can cut into disks yourself, using wafer thin pre-sliced chorizo is frankly just a waste of Rioja.
Simply slice your chorizo into thick chunks and sautée in a pan on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the fat begins to render. Add an equal amount of Rioja, i.e 100mls for 100g of chorizo and simmer until the wine has been absorbed by the chorizo. Serve with cocktail sticks and you have a little taste of the Med in a mouthful.
Ingredients: Sweet potato, avocado, lime, coriander
Another slightly lighter but super flavour-packed canapé option involves roasting disks of sweet potato and topping with whatever your heart desires. Sweet potato fries dipped in guacamole is a combo I can never resist, so turning this into a canapé was a no brainer.
Cut your sweet potato into disks of 1/2 inch thickness, brush with oil and roast at 180C for 35-40 minutues until golden and allow to cool slightly. In a bowl, mash a ripe avocado with lime juice and coriander and place a teaspoon on each disk. You can then add some chunks of fried chorizo for a contrast or textures and some saltiness. Delicious!
An even easier option would be to top your disks with blue cheese, chopped sage leaves aand walnut – heaven in a bite.
Ingredients: Smoked duck breast, gingerbread biscuits, red onion marmalade
Bear with me on what sounds like a strange sweet-savoury hybrid – if you have some extra gingerbread or even my beloved speculoos (Lotus biscuits) lying around, you’re a third of the way there. Smoked duck breast is the ultimate luxurious ingredient I love having in my fridge at Christmas.Sliced thinly and wrapped around a clementine, an instant classic canape or indulgent fridge grazing treat is born.
You can buy whole smoked duck breast from Skeaghanore in most Supervalu stores, cooked and ready to devour. Simply slice, pop on a gingerbread biscuit (or a baguette round if you don’t trust me) and top with a dollop of red onion marmalade, personally I adore Wild About’s Red Onion and Blackcurrant. This couldn’t be easier but your guests will go wild for this gamey treat.
Ingredients: Chickpeas, oil, Ras el Hanout spice blend
Not strictly a canapé but a bowlful of tempting pops of powerful flavour, for the non-nut lovers of this world. Crispy Chickpeas are as laid back as it gets on the labour front – simply pour a drained can into a bowl with a drizzle of oil and toss with your spices of choice.
My personal favourite crispy chickpea flavouring is garlic and Ras el Hanout, a warming Moroccan blend containing Christmassy cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Mix in a heaped teaspoon along with a couple of dashes of garlic powder and some sea salt to taste and roast on a baking tray at 180C for 6-8 minutes or until golden.
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that(and greed) as the ultimate motivator, I realised that baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law I undertook a PhD, but a preference for cookbooks to textbooks persisted. As a (self-confessed!) demon in the kitchen, I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, fuelling my desire to focus on food in a serious way. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.