This post is brought to you by our friends at Weight Watchers, who celebrate gathering together around the table to enjoy wholesome, beautiful food.
Scientifically speaking, things taste better when you make them yourself. You have probably already experienced this phenomenon; even the most ill-executed loaf of bread, when pulled from your oven, will taste fantastic.
This principle holds all the more true when you apply it to a group of people: Making a chocolate-dipped pretzel for one? Excellent. Putting a pot of molten chocolate in the middle of the table and having everyone go at it, laughing as they wipe sauce off their chins? Priceless.
Get the whole crew involved, and you'll all reap the benefits. We recommend starting with these 8 desserts:
Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches by Alice Medrich
Think of this crispy, buttery sandwich as the love child of a s'more and a grilled cheese. Give your guests good bread, butter, flaky salt, and a few options for fillings (we like dark chocolate, caramelized white chocolate, and nut butters). Let everyone build their own, then take turns cooking their creations.
How to Make Any Ice Cream Float (In 2 Steps) by Kristen Miglore
Recreate the feel of an olde-timey soda fountain in your kitchen with mix-and-match ice cream floats. Yes, fun straws are absolutely necessary.
Chocolate and Olive Oil Ice Cream Sandwiches by Yossy Arefi
Why eat cookies and ice cream when you could smoosh the two together for twice the fun? Make sure to choose the right cookies (or crackers, or bread) for your crafty dessert.
Crazy-Good No-Temper Chocolate-Dipped Fruit by Alice Medrich
If you're looking for a shortcut to a showstopping dessert, look no further. Pick up whatever fruit looks best at the market, melt some good-quality chocolate, and you're all set.
Coconut Cajeta and Chocolate Fondue by hardlikearmour
If you don't want for your chocolate to harden -- or you just want an excuse to play with your food -- chocolate fondue is the way to go. Set out pretzels, marshmallows, fruit, and sliced pound cake, then let your guests have at it.
Affogato alla Zabaglione by mrslarkin
Make your ice cream sundae bar a little more "adult" by setting out strong espresso, Italian zabaglione, and liqueur alongside your pints of vanilla. We recommend keeping ladyfingers handy to help soak up the sweet, boozy liquid.
Eton Mess with Rhubarb-Gin Jam and Lemon-Basil Meringue by cristinasciarra
Bake a batch of crispy, crunchy meringues, then let your guests top them with whipped cream, fresh fruit, and nut butter. Try valiantly to get a little of everything in each bite.
This post is brought to you by Weight Watchers. Find more recipe ideas here, and show us what you're cooking with the hashtag #biteintolife.
Photo of ice cream sandwiches by Yossy Arefi, all other photos by James Ransom