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Jul 26, 2009 06:50 PM

Dessert for a crowd

I am having a graduation party/bbq in my backyard and am looking for some good desserts that can be made in advance by at least a day or more (perhaps that can be frozen or just store well) and that can serve a crowd - 30 people or so. I was thinking of some giant cobblers since the fruit is so amazing right now, but I'm not sure they can be made in advance at all, or maybe a ton of shortcakes with mixed fruit... I'm at a bit of a loss. Any good ideas out there? Thanks in advance!

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  1. An ice cream cake or a couple with contrasting different flavors might be nice.

    1. How about a great big bowl of mixed fruit and a bowl of whipped cream beside it?

      1. crisps/crumbles can be made ahead and frozen -- absolutely.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Have you tried it hotoynoodle? Do you bake them fully and then freeze? And how do you thaw?

        2. I'd consider doing toasted slices of poundcake with bowls of miscellaneous macerated fruits, possibly a chocolate sauce, warmed/room temp apricot preserves and whipped cream - kind of a do-it-yourself affair.

          eta: I need to make pound cake just to lightly toast/broil with apricot preserves. And butter. Heaven.

          3 Replies
          1. re: shanagain

            But it's going to be in the backyard so maybe room temp toppings.

            1. re: shanagain

              This is a great idea and sounds lovely. The idea above of a large bowl of fruit with whipped cream sounds perfect to me, but I'd like it to be a little bit nicer considering the occasion, so adding some cake to it is a great idea. Poundcake should be able to be made in advance and frozen no problem I'd guess.

              I really like the ice cream cake idea or make-your-own ice cream cookie sandwiches, but too much work for this - may be better for a smaller group - and I'd worry about the logistics of having to pay attention to the desserts once they are out. I will have zero time the day of the party to do anything because I'll be at graduation and am planning on assigning some set-up tasks to family, but again, none of us will have a ton of time.

              Thanks for some great ideas. Delicious!

            2. I was faced with a similar situation a couple of years ago. 50+ people, wanted to use local seasonal fruit, and definitely wanted a make-ahead dessert. I couldn't see all those shortcakes, even if they would have held up in the freezer. Too much last-minute assembly. Browsing through my local Barnes & Noble, I was rescued by Ina Garten and her Strawberry Country Cake.

              The recipe makes two layers. As the final Country Cake only uses one layer, split in two, each recipe yields two desserts for serving. I made three recipes, for a total of six Country Cakes for the party. In advance and they "froze beautifully," as the expression goes. Sliced and macerated the local berries the night before (thankfully remembering to move the cakes from freezer to fridge), so there were only six layers to split and assemble the day of the party. By using stabilized whipped cream, we were able to put it all together a few hours before serving, and avoided any last-minute rush. Plus, as one would expect from a caterer, it's a lovely presentation as well.

              The cake has a bit of sponge-like character, though is not a sponge cake. (I assume due to the cornstarch in the batter, but I'm no food chemist.) The advantage over a regular yellow cake is that it holds up to the moisture from the fruit and cream very well, important when assembling early, I think. Indeed, I've made it many times since and it's still great after a couple of days in the fridge.

              It's in the cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa Parties." If you're interested, and don't have access to the book, I'll be glad to paraphrase the recipe for you.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Old Spice

                This sounds like a cake I would love Old Spice but I don't have the cookbook. I'll mark it to look into for a future party though. Sounds a bit much for this event since I really won't even have the night before to do much prep. Wow it sounds great though!

                1. re: Old Spice

                  I made this recipe last summer for a family cookout, it was fantastic.

                  This link should provide the recipe. Just type in Strawberry Country Cake.


                  1. re: mcel215

                    A large bowl of Chocolate Mousse. The CIA has theirs published on line. You could google it. Always has been a hit.