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Dessert for a crowd - easy to make?

Hi, I am having a holiday party this weekend with about 60 people invited. AAAGHHH! OK, now to the problem. I am baking two pies, two trays of cookies and someone else is bringing more cookies. But, I think I need more desserts. I am not much of a cake baker, pretty hopeless in fact. I am looking for a big dessert that will feed a lot of people, but is easy to make. Any suggestions?

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  1. Oh, a cheesecake. Absolutely a cheesecake.

    1. I always make Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies when I have a large crowd.


      3 Replies
      1. re: sbaker

        Kat, the easiest cheesecake recipes by far are made with condensed milk. See here:


        1. re: sbaker

          I was about to suggest the exact same thing! These are the best.

        2. If you want a cake, though you're not a cake baker, try the Texas sheet cake (called that because it's huge). This is a really easy recipe, baked flat w/ frosting poured over it.


          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            The Texas sheet cake is an absolute wow of a taste and it is easy to make. And it's chocolate. How can you lose with chocolate?

          2. How about a pumpkin bread pudding or regular bread pudding with a sauce on the side (rum sauce, caramel sauce, creme anglaise)? I've tried both of the following recipes and they are both delicious. A large pan should feed quite a few people as a little goes a long ways.


            And then there are always cupcakes. I don't know if there are going to be any children at your party, but this might be another possibility. I just posted some chocolate holiday cupcakes on my site if you need a "visual":


            Hope this helps,


            1. A really good, old fashioned bread pudding with a few sultana raisins in it. And maybe... just maybe... a few nuts? And a nice brandy sauce to top it off. Super easy to make and people love it! But don't get fancy or it loses its charm. I tried a bread pudding from the side panel (or wherever) of my panettone, and blech...! Simple is best. Oooh... Oooh... Oooh... I think my kitchen is calling me...

              1. I might get kicked off of chowhound boards for saying this, but if you have 60 people coming over - why don't you just buy some really good cookies or have your local bakery cut some bite-size portions of brownies, or even do some cupcakes, for you?

                I like to bake as much as the next person, but I don't think it's necessary to drive yourself nuts around the holidays trying to make everything home made.

                However, in the spirit of home baking, I always make a double batch of lemon squares when I have a crowd to feed (I use a half sheet pan) - and cut them into triangles if I'm looking for something with a nicer presentation.

                Good luck!

                1. As much as I detest the dessert, Tiramisu is very easy to make for a crowd. Purchased lady fingers work better than fresh, and it is only a matter of assembly.

                  Baklava is easy to make for a crowd.

                  Pot du creme, flan, or creme brulee are all easy to make for a crowd, in either in individual ramekins or larger casseroles.

                  Lava cakes are easy to make, but they do need to be baked at the last minutes for proper presentation.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    I was going to suggest Tiramisu as well. It's very easy to make and several pans of it would serve a lot of people. This recipe from Tante Marie's kitchen is EXCELLENT: http://www.tantemarie.com/recipes/des...

                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      Definitely Tiramisu, or some other sort of trifle. Anything you can just layer and refrigerate is always a good idea for a crowd! The Bon Appetit December cover recipe for white chocolate tiramisu trifle looks great, but might be a tad involved for your purposes.

                      1. re: porceluna

                        I was reluctant when I heard that the hostess at a dinner party I attended was serving trifle, but it turned out magnificently. What is there not to like about cream, cake and liqueur? I don't usually like fruit desserts, but this was both visually and gustatorily pleasing.

                    2. Many thanks for all the ideas - the cheesecake is a definite and even though cake scares me, I like the idea of the huge Texas cake feeding the masses. I might bite the bullet and do it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Kat

                        Kat, this recipe and I go back a long way. In fact, I didn't know there 'was' an original Texas sheet cake until this thread. This is easy, large and hoo boy is it good.


                        1. re: Kat

                          I've been making the texas sheet cake off of the pioneer woman cooks website, and it's gotten raves everywhere. Here's the link http://www.thepioneerwomancooks.com/2...

                          It's wonderful and easy.

                        2. One of the easiest cheesecakes is Tyler Florence's Ultimate Cheesecake (I even make it dairy-free and w/o the sauce)... all in the food processor or hand blender, either way, it's a one bowl mix1

                          Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread on Epicurious is also very easy.

                          A carrot or spice cake might be a nice addition, or a red velvet cake... made as cupcakes?

                          One more easy, always a hit recipe, is that of Seven Layer Bars, or Magic Bars, or Nanaimo Bars.

                          1. For 60 people I'd be thinking a fruit crisp or crumble. Easy to make with fall fruits and minimal effort.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JockY

                              That was my immediate thought, as well. Not a lot of fuss, and easy enough to use packages of frozen fruit, maybe mixed with some canned, such as frozen blueberries and canned peach slices.


                            2. The amount of dessert you "need" is somewhat of a function of what, if anything you are serving in addition to dessert. I am guessing that for 60 people, you are not serving a 5-course meal. And if you're putting out something like pasta/lasagne or a hero with starchy sides, people won't be as hungry for desserts as if this is just a snacks and dessert party or coffee and desserts only.

                              All of that said, I positively love cheesecake, but one cake only goes so far. I would suggest some homemade brownies and/or bar cookies. You will get dozens of pieces out of each pan and not have to actually make individual pieces. Since it's now already Thursday, you could bake them now, put them in an airtight box and you do not even have to freeze them at this point. Two things I have made always seem always to be a hit-- One is the "blondie" version of the Nestle tollhouse cookie recipe, where you smear the batch into a 10" x 15" cookie sheet rather than make individual cookies. You can use 1/2 chocolate chips and 1/2 white chocolate chips, or even see if Nestle is selling their holiday chips this year. The other is a recipe from the Land 'o' Lakes site, for raspberry white chocolate bars. The color of the jelly is really pretty on the table. Instead of putting in a 9" x 13" pan, I do it in a 10" x 15" pan. That makes the cookie base a little thinner and also yields you more pieces.

                              Good luck.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Shayna Madel

                                >>The amount of dessert you "need" is somewhat of a function of what, if anything you are serving in addition to dessert. <<

                                Personally, I've never been to a function or thrown a party where the desserts were NOT the center of people's attention, regardless of how much they ate earlier.

                                The blondies sound good!

                                1. re: DanaB

                                  Ah, but you've never been to a Memorial Day BBQ at my mother's or a Jewish holiday meal where you start with the chopped liver on crackers/matzoh as a sort of warm up as guests arrive; then you do the gefilte fish and more matzho or challah; then the matzoh ball soup then the full meal with brisket/turkey, kugel and a bunch of other sides; then dessert comes and even if it is really good, people just don't have a ton of room to eat (and believe me, I come from the land of large eaters, on both sides of the family).

                                  The blondies are really good. Not fancy "showpieces," but really good basic stuff. People just seem to love them. If I have a bunch of different cookies in the freezer, I will go for those first 90% of the time, for some strange reason.

                              2. You could buy a chocolate sheet cake; soak it with some Kahlua; break it up in pieces; mix in some whip cream (or cool whip) along with some crushed heath bars and serve it in a large glass bowl.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Pegmeister

                                  Kahula chocolate trifle! Excellent, easy (more assembly than "cooking") and looks wonderful.

                                  My version: chocolate sheet cake or pound cake, poke several holes in the cake (make sure it's in a pan or on a rimmed baking sheet) and mist(I use a vermouth mister, make for more even distribution) or drizzle 1-2 ounces of Kahlua over the whole cake and let it soak for a minimum of one hour or overnight.

                                  Cut Kahula soaked cake into bite size pieces, and layer in a glass bowl ...
                                  whipping cream
                                  chocolate mousse (optional)
                                  crushed skor bits (Hershey's sells them in bags now)
                                  finish with whipping cream and skor (or other toffee chocolate bar) pieces.

                                2. Kat, any children attending this holiday party? If so, icebox cake (homemade vanilla & chocolate pudding between graham cracker layers) is always a big and easy to make hit.
                                  Strawberry shortcake with whipped cream (frozen berries work well in winter too)
                                  and baked apples-figure friendly very easy to make a batch in cupcake tins.
                                  Happy Holidays!

                                  1. If there's lots of kids serve them "dirt" Trifle with gummy worms mixed in. Easy, makes lots. We actually fill paper or plastic cups with a serving a stick a gummy worm in each one. Cute and the kids love it.

                                    Another easy one is Ambrosia, Whipped cream, fruit, nuts and coconut. Delicious and everyone loves it. Easy to make pretty and holiday festive with marichino cherries on top, with sprigs of fresh mint.

                                    I know you'll probably end up with cheesecake but it's always good to have options. Costco BTW makes the best pumpkin cheesecake and the price is awesome. They're huge and feed a good size crowd.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: othervoice

                                      I am an avid home baker and have no patience for dare I say crappy bakeries. That said, I second the idea of buying baked goods at Costco. Their stuff is really quite good for the most part and the prices cannot be beat.

                                    2. That chocolate/whip cream/skor or heath bar trifle sounds great; big, tasty and easy to make. Not too much time left now.

                                      1. trifle - everyone loves it and it's super easy to make. Plus, it feeds a lot of people

                                        1. Hello,

                                          Apple crisp is a good dessert idea and, trifle, short cake, pineapple upside down cake, mini cheesecakes, gingerbread (whip cream/sauce) and fruit salad.

                                          1. A punch bowl with diced and canned fruit works well for a crowd. I Peel a few bananas slice them up and mix with a couple cans of pineapple tidbits in their own juice first to keep bananas from turning brown. Then add apples for same reason. After that I add other canned and/ or fresh fruit.I usually drain most of the juice but save till I see how much I will need at the end. The last thing I add is a big bag of frozen strawberries when I set the dish out. They keep the dish cool but thaw by the time people start on desserts. I do this for pot lucks too and never have left overs. Good Luck