• Desserts to share (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson
The celebratory season is rolling on in, so bring your party A-Game with these shareable, playful desserts from our resident baker Anneka Manning.
Anneka Manning

21 Nov 2016 - 9:00 AM  UPDATED 21 Nov 2016 - 12:15 PM

I just love the idea of desserts to share – in the serving and assembling as well as through the eating and enjoying of them. I’m talking about serving up classics like trifle and pavlova in a deconstructed form and letting each diner create their own personalised version. Playful, colourful, unique – each individualised dessert says so much about the style and sweet desires of its creator.

Crunchy or smooth. Syrupy or saucy. Cakey or fruity. It’s such a wonderful game to combine flavours and textures at the table to express your inner dessert angel or demon. Be bold, be decadent, be delicate, be artful.

Almost any dessert, when stripped back to its various elements, has the makings of a shared delight. But the classics are especially ripe for deconstructing and sharing the joy of scooping, swirling and sprinkling. Let me show you what I mean, with a bit of a modernising twist here and there to up the taste sensation and move beyond mere child’s play!

My banana split is a multi-generational winner with its salted peanut wafers, chocolate fudge sauce, caramelised honey bananas, Chantilly cream and, of course, big scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Arrange each irresistible element in the centre of the table and arm each participant with their own bowl and spoon. Ready, set, go for it!

The key to a good shared dessert is balance.

Slightly more sophisticated is my triple ginger trifle. An updated version of a much-loved dessert with an unforgettable kick, it’s a layer-yourself extravaganza of double-ginger cake and honey cream, a caramel and lemon syrup, pecans and a finish of preserved ginger – just in case it wasn’t already gingery enough.

Another classic that adapts beautifully to the shared desserts concept is a pavlova. My rosewater pavlovas with vanilla-roasted red fruits also easily morph into an Eaton mess for eaters who prefer a slightly more casual approach to assembly.

You could, of course, create a dessert that focusses on a key ingredient presented in various ways, such as my ″death by chocolate″ – an over-the-top combination of saucy, crisp, cool and cakey chocolate elements – or my ″lemon on lemon″ – layers of lemon buttermilk pound cake, creamy lemon curd and mouth-puckering lemon syrup along with soured cream and seasonal fruits.

The key to a good shared dessert is balance. Make sure yours has contrasting textures and flavours that keep to or complement the main theme. Colour, either contrasting or complementary, is also important – you want the end product to look good on its plate or in its glass or bowl, no matter how playfully it’s put together.

So, are you up for creating a fun new trend in the dessert landscape? Let’s all join in and get our daring, delicious and totally original masterpieces noticed by sharing our #shareddesserts!


Anneka's shareable desserts 


1. Banana split with salted peanut honey wafers

The childhood favourite as you've never seen it before. Forget the kids, adults will want in on this action!

2. Triple ginger trifle

Who said trifle had to be old-school? Marrying ginger, lemon and caramel brings this dessert into the 21st century. 

3. Rosewater pavlovas with vanilla-roasted red fruits and toffee pistachios

Delicately flavoured with rosewater, these individual pavlovas make a divine create-your-own dessert. 

4. Death by chocolate

Hello chocoholics anonymous! To make matters easier for yourself, you can use store-bought ice-cream or gelato (hazelnut, choc-chip, rum and raisin, and toffee all work well) instead of the frozen chocolate mousse.

5. Lemon buttermilk pound cake with lemon curd 

With its fruity appeal and pound cake toastability, this fresh, summery number could easily be served for breakfast or dessert.  


Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.


View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes here.


Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook,TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

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