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Dessert for 20

I'm going to a potluck this weekend, and I was asked to bring dessert for 20 people. Which, in my mind, means at least 20 people but enough for a few more, too. Before I knew how many people were invited, I'd been thinking of baking a cake (hadn't gotten so far as what kind of cake). I could, of course, still bake a cake--or even two cakes, I guess--but do y'all have any other suggestions? Cupcakes are a possibility, as are a selection of cookies and brownies. What else? Whatever it is shouldn't need refrigeration once at the party.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I love a good chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. Another recommendation would be for strawberry shortcakes which could be festive. Bars, of course, would be easier for a crowd, so maybe brownies and blondies? If you go that route, you may want to add a watermellon or fruit salad for a lighter, more seasonal option.

    1. if you'll be indoors, AND the weather outside is warm, i'd consider doing a large fruit salad with dressing or dip. i can't speak for anyone else, but the last thing i want to eat in the heat is something heavy & sweet.

      the cupcake idea would definitely make for easy plating/serving. but if you're outside, it's not such a good idea because the frosting/icing would probably turn into a huge, gloppy mess if it's sunny/hot.

      i was going to suggest an assortment of sorbets or granitas, but that would require access to the freezer...

      1. Chocolate toffee bars are really easy to make and can go a long way. If you want the recipe, I'll post it for you.

        1. Chocolate-dipped strawberries
          Strawberry shortcakes
          Angelfood cake with macerated berries
          Black fruit salad (blueberries, blackberries or black raspberries, prune plums)
          White fruit salad (green grapes, kiwi, honeydew mellon, white peaches)
          Red fruit salad (strawberries, raspberries, cherries, watermelon)

          Fruit salads can be served with a dollop of mascarpone, yoghurt, or creme fraiche. Whipped cream for the others can be the squirt can (there's at least one brand that says it's real cream. I know, but otherwise you're whipping cream on site with a whisk.). In either case, lots of ice and a cooler might get you through.

          If you're really daring, ice cream cookie sandwiches. Individually wrapped well in plastic, frozen solid, transported in a cooler with lots of ice.

            1. Oh, and one more idea that's been on my mind lately - Rice Krispy Treats (especially good if there will be children there!)

              1. Please don't de-chowhound me for this. I make a dessert that is basically layers of chocolate wafer cookies (Nabisco or similar) and chocolate whipped cream that no one can resist. I make it only for friends who know that I can also cook complicated things or for occasions where complexity will not necessarily be appreciated. A potluck, for instance. Here it is. It has no name. Double the recipe for about 20 servings.

                Chocolate Whipped Cream Layered Thingy

                2 cups whipping cream
                1 tbsp instant coffee (dissolved in 1 tbsp./15 mL water)
                1/4 cup chocolate syrup (the regular chocolate milk kind)
                3/4 cup icing sugar
                1 pkg. chocolate wafer cookies (they come in those long-ish packages - you'll just use as much as you need)

                In a large bowl combine the whipping cream, icing sugar, chocolate syrup and coffee liquid. With an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is nearly stiff. Don’t overbeat the cream because it will separate - stop beating while it’s still a little soft.

                In an 8 in. square baking dish, make a layer of chocolate wafer cookies. (You will use about 16 cookies for each layer.) Cover this with one-third of the mocha whipped cream. Repeat these layers two more times - making 3 layers of each - ending with mocha whipped cream.

                Sprinkle the top with shaved chocolate or sprinkles. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (or up to 48 hours) before serving. Cut into squares to serve.

                Makes about 8 to 10 servings.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Nyleve

                  Not only will I NOT de-frock you as a CH, I am going to make that this week. I am invited to a BBQ "do' with kids and I was actually thinking of that "log" I used to make with the chocolate wafers and the whipped cream, but it would have been too small...this is perfect, can be expanded to lasagna size easily and is a little more interesting. I am going to top it with a berry coulis and an individual strawberry per serving. Thanks!

                  1. re: LJS

                    Thank you - I was worried.

                    I usually make it in a 9 x 13 pan by doing 1-1/2 times the recipe. Actually, there's almost nothing you can do wrong that would make it not turn out. And you won't need the berry coulis - but if it will make you feel better, go ahead and do it. Enjoy.

                  2. re: Nyleve

                    I make something like this, but just with regular whipped cream. I must admit I was scandalized when I learned the delicious dessert a friend served at her dinner party was made from chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream!!! It tasted so much better than that. Since then, it's been on my list of quick and easy treats, and it's never disappointed.

                  3. baklava
                    mini lemon curd tarts
                    mixed berry crumble

                    1. Everyone loves these 7 layer magic bars...they are so easy and so good. Can be made a day in advance.


                      1. You can make any cake and bake one receipe for 2" layers in a 9x 13 inch pan. Just repeat the receipe and bake it again. Then double your frosting receipe and you have one double sized cake. If you want you could split the layer and add another filling. I often just use jam for this, though you could use the same filling for all layers if it's different than the frosting.
                        If you want more dessert just make some cookies or have ice cream with the cake.

                        1. Thanks for all of your replies! I ended up making fudge brownies (the KAF guaranteed ones), Hungarian shortbread (from Baking with Julia, but online in Saveur), and a version of chocolate chip-pecan cookies I made up recently (based on Jacques Torres' recipe). I also put out bowls of cherries and strawberries. With all that we had going on I forgot to take pics, but everything was very well received and devoured pretty quickly. :)