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In this Jan. 28, 2013 photo, using our building block approach to Oscar party canapes, diners are able to select from a buffet of ingredients -- from bases and spreads to toppings and garnishes -- to design snacks that suit their preferences as shown on this serving tray in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Oscar entertaining made easy with this formula
First Published Feb 12 2013 07:40 pm • Last Updated May 21 2013 11:32 pm

Canapes may sound stuffy, but they are an easy party food. Plus, they look great and can be combined in endless ways to suit any taste.

We created a simple formula for making canapes, dividing them into four components — bases, spreads, toppings and garnishes. For each canape, select one item from each category, then assemble. And the easiest way to assemble enough for a party is to set out all of your ingredients (clustered by category), then just start selecting and building.

Photos
At a glance

Party canapes

Each spread recipe makes enough to top 24 canapes.

Bases

24 multigrain crackers

24 thin slices of seedless cucumber

24 toasted baguette slices

24 purchased phyllo cups (found in the grocer’s freezer section)

Spreads

Garlic-herb cream cheese

4 ounces softened cream cheese

2 tablespoons milk

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and milk until smooth.

Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and garlic.

Zesty barbecue spread

3 tablespoons barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons spicy red pepper jelly

1/4 cup sour cream

Splash of hot sauce

In a small bowl, stir together the barbecue sauce, red pepper jelly, sour cream and hot sauce.

Orange sweet potato spread

1 medium sweet potato, microwaved until fork-tender

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Peel the sweet potato, then place it in a medium bowl and mash it. Stir in the orange marmalade and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper.

Toppers

Small cooked and peeled shrimp

Shredded cooked chicken

Halved cherry tomatoes

Crab meat

Small wedges of manchego cheese

Garnishes

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Sliced green and black olives

Sliced hot peppers (such as piri piri or Peppadew)

Sliced scallions

To assemble the canapes, arrange the bases on a large serving tray. Top each with a small dollop of one of the spreads. Press one of the topping choices into the spread, then finish each with a garnish.

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If you’re planning a viewing party for the Academy Awards, you might even consider turning the making of the canapes into a pre-party. Set out everything on the counter, pour some wine and invite a few guests to come early and help assemble (and sample, of course).

Don’t feel locked into the ingredients we’ve included in these categories. Head to the store and see what inspires you. For example, we include recipes for mixing your own spreads, but to simplify you could grab prepared tzatziki, hummus, flavored cream cheese or cheese spreads.




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