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Feeding a crowd dessert?

I signed up for making dessert at a combination holiday/1st birthday party (for my son), and my mom's house next week. She just informed me she expects 30.

I'm trying to decide between one type of dessert (large cake or several small of the same type) or a dessert table. Other considerations are that, although it is a kid bday party, most of the guests are adults. Also, I bake, rather than buy, to accomodate a nut allergy. Finally, I'll be prepping in a kitchen not my own, on a relatively short timetable, so anything that is easy and/or can be made 1-2 days ahead would be tremendously helpful.

I am tending to a variety of desserts, a homemade cake, some cupcakes from a box, a few fruit tarts using whatever jumps out at the farmer's market, and maybe some rice krispie treats. Then again, maybe an assortment of holiday cookies...
I don't want to take on too much and then be exhausted (or not make deadline). What do you think?

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  1. banana cream pie - made with vanilla wafers,banana pudding,bananas and whip cream- serve it in a big casserole or pyrex dish- pretty good and it gets better after a day or two the cookies mush up well.
    We find that this is addicting and so easy!

    1. I think this calls for a trifle. Easy to assemble, no baking, big dish dessert, good for both adults and kids (without any alcohol, of course ;)

      2 Replies
      1. re: pescatarian

        I absolutely agree with the trifle idea! It's got such a huge "wow" factor and it's so easy to pull together! There's a variety of easy recipes, and you can even pull one together yourself without a recipe! Take chocolate pound cake, some fresh whipped cream, and some chocolate pudding and layer away! Finish the top with the whipped cream and some chocolate shavings and viola - a show stopper!

        1. re: pescatarian

          I was thinking trifle as well. You could even make a couple of trifles in different flavors.

          1. Please don't call me a glutton for punishment, but I think that is tooooo easy. If I don't work at it a little, I won't be able to enjoy the compliments that I hope will be forthcoming...

            2 Replies
            1. re: sasha1

              Easy, but looks nice ideas:

              Biscotti half dipped in chocolate (can be made a day or two in advance) and you can substitute the nuts with chocolate/dried fruit/ginger, etc due to the nut allergy.
              The rice crispie treats can be made into a cake in a bundt pan and then decorated nicely.
              Strawberry Shortcake (although not really in season)
              Lemon White Chocolate Tart, decorated with raspberries
              Yummy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.
              Chocolate Caramel Brownies

              1. re: sasha1

                Trifles can be as easy or as hard as you want to make them. If you make your own sponge cake, custard, it'll be more time consuming but something you can put together ahead of time and not be exhausted for the party. Epicurious has some good ones and are not too easy but turn out well.

                How about a cheesecake bar? Different cheesecakes, different toppings. That can all be done a day in advanced, too.

              2. chocolate devils food cake layered with chocolate whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top-for chocolate lovers

                1. What about several large pavlovas, each with a different fruit topping - passionfruit, kiwi with raspberry puree, strawberries, etc? You can make the meringue shells in advance, and fill them with cream and fruit just before serving. They look beautiful on a buffet, and seem to appeal to both children and adults.

                  1. eclairs or cream puffs.

                    1. I think the "wow" factor you're after (and compliments) can come from a variety rather than one complicated dessert. So you could do a trifle, some lemon bars, cheesecake, brownies and cookies. Something for everyone, and an impressive dessert spread!

                      1. I vote for the variety, too. Heck, maybe you could include a trifle? I try to include different categories--some people like chocolate, others fruit deserts, something kid friendly, and small portion items for those who only want "a little something." So, maybe brownies studded with white chocolate or something special cut in little squares, a trifle with homemade custard, and a classic pie like cherry or pecan. The brownies and trifle can be made ahead, and the pie baked that morning and cooled. Another idea in place of the trifle would be a banana pudding with coconut shortbread in place of the vanilla wafers, and with homemade vanilla pudding. Very kid friendly and an attractive buffet item.

                        ETA, sorry about the pecan suggestion, just reread your post! Stick with cherry!

                        1. Cheesecake can be made ahead (so many seasonal flavors: cranberry, pumpkin, ginger, chocolate-peppermint, etc.)

                          A bread pudding can be made ahead and be baked at the last minute.

                          With cookies or cake you could serve peppermint stick or eggnog ice cream.

                          For my niece'e first birthday my sister made angel food cake. It's relatively easy for baby to eat and if you use a mix you just add water. For adult you could serve with macerated fruits (with alcohol if you like).

                          1. I agree with the dessert assortments idea - but you must have a cake for the birthday boy. I suggest making a simple tiered butter or pound cake and decorating it with simple syrup and berries and mint leaves.
                            something that looks like this:

                            then having ice cream and more fruits to serve with it

                            Also, would it be too odd to offer a cheese course before the desserts?

                            1. Strawberry shortcake-can be done for a large group or as individual portions

                              Butterscotch pudding-unexpected when made by scratch

                              Fresh fruit salad-healthy among the sweet, richer choices

                              Parfaits-many recipes exist-you pop in fridge the night before, party supply stores carry great parfait plastics

                              1. Reading this post title I immediately thought of a dessert I do for occasions like this. Then reading the replies I see someone suggested a trifle. They are absolutely right!
                                I have a recipe for what is called a Punch Bowl Cake! It's big, good tasting, very refreshing, low calorie, and easy to make, and looks great.

                                You can use an angel food cake if you want to do lower calorie or a store bought pound cake for ease or even a home baked boxed cake, or if you prefer your own home baked from scratch cake. So, you make it easy or as hard as you wish, just like someone else mentioned above. It has pudding too, so of course the same is true for that. I usually serve this in a trifle dish so it's really pretty, but for really casual events you could even put it in a large plastic bowl for ease of travel and convenience. Might even find something at the $$$$ store for one time use. Depending on what you're looking for. Unfortunately the recipe is on my computer at my Mom's house, but I will be going there on Friday. If you want the recipe if this is not too late for you, just send me a message and as soon as I can I will email it to you. I called to get internet service turned on there on Friday, so atleaset by Saturday, I should be up and running and should be able to get you the recipe.

                                1. I agree with a variety, especially for a large group. Bread pudding and whiskey sauce are better when prepared a day ahead and baked day of. Everyone loves brownies. Carrot cake cupcakes are delicious and for your little one year-old, a themed birthday cake, aimed at his favorites, will WOW him. A chocolate layer cake embellished with candy canes or M&M's - think like a little kid. What could be better than the smile on his face? Maybe some strawberries dipped in chocolate on the side.