From kids' parties to holiday gatherings, the fillings for finger sandwich appetizers can be tailored to suit any event. No-cook finger sandwiches slash the preparation time for busy moms who have little party planning time to spare. The easy preparation also provides an opportunity for the kids to help. With the available varieties of breads and fillings, the options are almost endless. Add a kid-friendly presentation and make-ahead capability, and finger sandwiches may just be the best appetizer idea since sliced bread.
Many finger sandwich appetizers can be made as early as one day ahead of serving. To keep them fresh, place the sandwiches in an airtight container, cover with wax paper or moist paper towels, and refrigerate. Remove the finger sandwiches from the fridge two hours before serving. Finger sandwiches that contain vegetable ingredients such as tomato, cucumber and lettuce shouldn't be stored for longer than four hours. If topping other fillings with these vegetables, prepare and refrigerate the sandwiches with the fillings only and top with the veggies just a couple of hours ahead of serving time.
Finger sandwiches are traditionally made with thin slices of square bread. The sandwiches are spread with a light layer of filling and cut into triangular quarters. Breads to use for this style of finger sandwich include white, wheat or rye sandwich bread. Specialty breads that are baked with herbs, nuts, cheese or dried fruits complement the flavors of certain fillings and enhance the presentation, while mini croissants, pitas or quartered hot dog rolls may enhance the kid appeal.
Commonly used fillers include herb cheese spreads, cucumber and watercress, or chicken salad. For a chicken salad that spreads easily, puree the cooked chicken before mixing with creamy dressing and other ingredients. Create kid-friendly finger sandwiches using fillers such as peanut butter and honey or ham and cheese. To save time and ingredients, use cream cheese as the base for all of your finger sandwich appetizers. Separate them into two batches. Top the cream cheese with smoked salmon in the adult batch. Spread jelly over the cream cheese in the kids' portion. Another cream cheese idea is mixing room temperature cream cheese with a packet of dry dip mix for a savory spread.
Assembly-line preparation is a time-saving method that frees you for other tasks. Spread all of your bread slices with a thin layer of butter or cream cheese prior to assembly. This will help to seal in the fillings and keep the bread from becoming soggy. Line up the slices of bread that will serve as the bottom halves of your sandwiches. Spread a thin layer of filling on each slice, then repeat with any additional fillings. Top with the remaining bread slices. Remove the crust and quarter the sandwiches, cutting diagonally.
Insert decorative toothpicks into the finger sandwich appetizers and arrange on a tiered cake stand or decorative serving platter. To add a touch of color and lessen the chance of kid spills, place each sandwich in a paper cupcake pan liner. Assign a color of liner to each different style of sandwich so kids can easily identify their favorites. Another way to enhance the presentation and help kids identify their selections is to use different cookie cutters to shape the sandwiches.
- Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images