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Dessert ideas for large group (200 people)

I'm helping plan a dessert event. There's a set schedule with speaker and dessert will be served.

Any fantastic dessert ideas and advice on where to get it?

I'm planning to plate ahead of time and serve once guests or seated (so what it looks like in original form does not matter so much). Conversely, I could do a dessert buffet with multiple dessert stations, but I think, logistically, it will be difficult (with a limited amount of time and people getting up and down).

The event is in Pasadena, so the closer to Pasadena the better. I will be able to refrigerate but have no method of warming anything up, if that's required.


Right now, I'm thinking of talking to Portos and getting stuff from there - but I'd love any suggestions you may have.


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  1. My first thought was to get a dozen or more x-large cheesecakes at Costco, then slice them thin & plate them.

    You can still set it up buffet style, with maybe some fresh fruit or whipped cream, caramel sauces, fruit sauces so people can top them as they like.

    1. Porto's would be great. Tons of cheese rolls mmmmmm...cupcakes are also a good idea, maybe even minis.

      1. Ice cream cart? *Some* Ben & Jerry's stores have a cart they'll rent. I'm not sure about Fosselman's or Dr. Bob's, but it might be worth a call.

        Also, how about a massive spread of fresh strawberry donuts from the Donut Man?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Professor Salt

          "... a massive spread of fresh strawberry donuts from the Donut Man?" Excellent idea. I did that once for a much-smaller group -- about 20 family members -- and they thought I was a genius. Unless you can coordinate the timing very closely with Donut Man, however, I suggest having them provide the strawberries in tubs, separate from the donuts, so it doesn't get soft and mushy in advance. Then, either you and your crew do the final assembling (quite easy), or let people do it themselves. The latter was my solution, and it led to some very happy siblings, nieces, and nephews.

          1. re: Professor Salt

            Professor - you and I are on the same page. I wanted to do an ice cream sundae theme (serve scoops of ice cream and then have assorted toppings at the tables) but my other half of the planning committee thought it would be too casual.

            Love the donut idea... I'm gonna remember that for future a future event :)

          2. How about some of the individual sized pastries at a place like Phoenix Bakery or Van's?

            1 Reply
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Or how about some of those great petite pastries at Ap-petite? ( http://www.ap-petite.com/pastriesando... ) Fabulous tiny morsels that would provide each guest with a diversity of excellence. Tell your speaker not to expect anyone to pay attention, however.

              140 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

            2. Check with Frank's Deli & Bakery in Montrose....they do house-made desserts and they're good, and they specialize in catering events so will have some good ideas as to what will work best for 200 persons.

              Frank's Famous
              3315 N Verdugo Rd, Glendale, CA 91208

              1. Portos has great stuff. I like the Costco rec as well. Chinese bakeries like JJ Bakery in Arcadia and Cathy's Bakery in San Gabriel (their branch in Arcadia is called Ellie's Bakery) has little fruit tarts that have been a hit. They're bite size tarts with custard and a piece of fruit in them (strawberry, peach, kiwi, or pineapple). I personally like the ones from Cathy's Bakery more (puse they're cheaper!). Dots in Pasadena has cute mini cupcakes. http://www.dotscupcakes.com/

                1. i'll cop in advance to the fact that i am not knowledgeable about the offerings in pasadena, but, if it was me, i'd head over to la maison du pain (pico east of hauser) and arrange for huge platters of individually -sized fruit tarts, tiramisu's, cookies, etc to be made to order for your pick up.

                  obviously this will be more expensive than hacking up costco offerings yourself, it is just what i'd prefer to have served to me. .
                  also, if you are in charge of the clean up as well this option would probably be a lot less messy than the costco/donut/ice cream options.

                  1. Dandy Don's Ice Cream does old-fashioned ice cream social sundae bars with 20-30 toppings and tons of different ice cream flavors. They're a wholesale operation and sell to lots of restaurants, hotels, etc in the area. I always get a scoop or two at the little Belgian Chocolate place on Wilshire in WLA.


                    Also, Vanilla in Santa Monica does lots of miniature desserts (they call them icebox dessert shots) that you could easily set up for a dessert bar. They come in Key Lime Pie, Meyer Lemon Tarts, Triple Berry Short Cake, Dirt Cake, and Southern Banana Pudding and are $2 a pop.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Raspberries

                      dandy dons is a great idea, and dandy don is quite a character himself. also platine in culver city would do all sorts of yummy treats http://www.platinecookies.com/g

                    2. There's Natas, the Portuguese bakery on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. They have some pretty amazing pastries. http://www.nataspastries.com

                      The natas are a crowd pleaser.

                      1. Cake Monkey individual desserts rock.


                        1. UPDATE: Thanks everyone for the excellent suggestions. You have me set for future events!

                          For this one, I opted to order from Martino's in Burbank. Martino's is 'famous' for their tea cakes. While yummy, I thought the tea cakes were a bit plain for what I wanted to pull off - and ended up ordering their individual carrot cakes and german chocolate cakes. Both items were DELICIOUS, looked great, and very affordable ($1.29/each). The staff was very friendly and easy to work with. They delivered and the finished product tasted even better than the ones we tried in the bakery. It was a win-win-win. I'd use them again in a heartbeat.

                          Martino's Bakery
                          335 N Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502

                          1. I just attended a really cool event and they had the most amazing dessert buffet (personally, I think its more fun to go and choose your own desserts than being plated something). Anyway, I was so impressed, I had to find out who did the event for my future parties...it was a place I'd never heard of, but they have a lovely website and I'm definitely planning on hiring them for my husband's upcoming 50th bday party! Their stuff was so delicious and presented beautifully./ Good luck!