There's something adorable about individual desserts. They seem so elegant and innocent (small must mean no calories).
Maybe it's all in the name. Lemon tarts turn into tartlets. A cake becomes cupcakes. Brownies turn into bites. Who can feel guilty about just one bite?
Lately, top restaurants, such as Splendido in Toronto, have been serving them as little trios. Transported to the home, this gives you the opportunity to wow guests with different flavours. Go for bite-size chocolate samplers -- a mousse, a truffle, a tartlet -- varying the texture and intensity (milky, bittersweet, dark).
You can also make an impact with colour. Buy three different sorbets or gelatos (a good mix is Gelato Fresco's lemon, raspberry and strawberry) and serve in a frosted martini glass. You can make your own sorbet ahead of time (grapefruit is my latest favourite) without an ice-cream maker.
While you might think more treats mean more work, that isn't necessarily the case. Let's start with the obvious: You don't have to make three desserts. You could make one and buy two (or all). Take the ever-popular two-bite brownies: Simply skewer three and serve with a pot of melted chocolate for dipping. Or buy mini-cheesecakes and dip them in dulce de leche.
If you are baking at home, it takes no more time to fill several little pans as it does one big mould. Most bakeware lines have tartlet and mini-cupcake pans. Use small ramekins and espresso cups for little flourless cakes, sticky puddings or chocolate pots.
As wedding season approaches, it's worth mentioning that individual desserts are perfect for receptions. After that first slice is taken, a cake looks worked over. Mini morsels keep a dessert station looking fresh throughout the night.
Trish Magwood is the owner of dish cooking studio in Toronto ( http://www.dishcookingstudio.com) and the host of party dish on Food Network Canada.