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ISO: Individual-portioned, easy chocolate dessert for 50.

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Needed for a daytime bbq retirement party which will be catered, poolside for a casual crowd. Chocolate desserts were requested from those wishing to "bring something".

I want to present individual servings, ala finger food, so cutting or plating necessary. Something that could be presented in a cup or small container...? Ease of transport a plus.

I thought of truffles, but am looking for something more unusual/unconventional, even if very simple!

Got any chocolate favorites up your sleeve?

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  1. will heat/melting be a factor? you could do individual cheesecakes in muffin tins lined with paper liners...that way they can remain in the tin for ease of transport, and you can just pull them out and arrange on a platter at the event. or do chocolate-dipped cheesecake pops - still easy to display/serve either resting in paper cups or poked upright into a stand or holder.

    for the mini cakes i'd do a chocolate cookie crust with white or semisweet espresso cheesecake filling, garnished with a chocolate curl or a chocolate-covered espresso bean.

    for pops, chocolate espresso cheesecake filling dipped in half white & half milk or semisweet chocolate (or dip in one and drizzle with the other).

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      If you have access to a Trader Joe's and $25 to spend on dessert consider TJ's individual Chocolate Lava Cakes. All you have to do is microwave them for about half a minute and the inside gets all fudgey and goody. They come two in a package, frozen, for around $2.

      1. re: Querencia

        I love TJ's chocolate lava cakes! I served them a New Year's Eve party and they were a hit. No one could believe that they were from a grocery store as they had a fresh baked taste to them (perhaps from the microwave?). Ice cream on top drizzled with fudge is a must!

    2. This couldn't be easier!- chocolate cups. Get small plastic cups and follow any pot de creme or chocolate cup recipe. All you do is throw the ingredients into a blender and pour into individual cups. Refrigerate.
      Bring along a nice can of whipped cream to top at the function. Maybe bring a container of cut strawberries too.
      Rachel Ray's recipe is simple and, in her word-- delish.
      http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/re...
      ps...liquor optional really.

      7 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        Since I'm sure the hostess's fridge will be maxed out, I hope to find a treat that will not need refrigeration during the bbq, before desserts are put out. But the ideas of pops, or pots de creme are on the mark for deliciousness and single serving size.

        The chocolate desserts are the request of the retiring 37-yr FF veteran who worked his way from paramedic to Battalion chief. This is gonna be one heck of a retirement party, with "Jerry's famous" margaritas "fueling" the stories that will be told, at last!

        Chocoholics, keep the ideas coming, please!

        1. re: toodie jane

          Chocolate Ganache cocoction:
          Fill plastic cups with small pieces of chocolate cake or brownies. Top with a layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache. Refrigerate to firm up or freeze. Bring to bbq while still cold and it will soften up room temperature. Serve with either piping of sweetened whipped cream or a bowl on the side. As long as I don't use ultra-pasteurized cream, I never have problem whipping cream hours ahead and kept cold.
          If the whipped cream is an inconvenience, top the bittersweet ganache with layer of white chocolate ganache after the bittersweet chocolate later firms up. Refrigerate or freeze. For more: soak the cake with a liqueur or a spread of seedless raspberry jam.
          I have make this as a sheet layer: cake, bittersweet chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache. Refrigeratel or freeze; Firm enough to cut into squares and put into cupcake liners while still cold.

          1. re: PBSF

            I was thinking of something just like this after perusing M Stewart's 'Pies and Tarts' book at Costco: using a cookie crumb crust for crunch,, then piped dark chocolate ganache and flavored whipped cream/mascarpone, maybe some of our good local strawberries for garnish. But your cake/brownie base idea is more practical.

            I could use clear plastic cocktail cups, or cupcake liners as you suggest. I wonder where I could get some tiny gelato spoons...?

            Sounds do-able! hardest part will be to make room in the fridge to chill them! (w/o flavor transfer--my fridge is always full of garlicky stuff)

          2. re: toodie jane

            curious about Jerry's famous margaritas!????

            1. re: smilingal

              i have no idea...but will report!

              1. re: toodie jane

                please do - with recipe please!! LOL I thought you were making them!

            2. re: toodie jane

              Individual chocolate trifles are easy in little plastic cups. Just chocolate cake, layered with chocolate pudding/mousse, and whipped cream. Shave some choclate curls on top and they look like a million bucks. Stick a little plastic spoon in each one for easy eat and run, or walk as the case may be. I'd also like to send my appreciation to the Battalion chief for his years of service to his community. We all need to express our thanks to the loyal men and woman that are there for us. Have a margarita for me!!!!!

          3. Since you've got an issue with refrigeration, perhaps a Mayan chocolate brownie? You can cut into smaller pieces and serve skewered.

            2 Replies
            1. re: wattacetti

              Mayan brownies are dense enough to skewer? have you a favorite recipe?

              1. re: toodie jane

                I'll ask for the recipe I've had; the skewers were the two-prong bamboo ones.

            2. I'm assuming you want casual for a backyard barbecue over elegant? I like to make fake hostess cupcakes, with a chocolate ganache topping, piped white chocolate swirls (I will sometimes pipe out a letter on each as part of the swirl for the message, make sure the swirls match up when you put them out). It's just a fun thing that everyone remembers from childhood. Another fun dessert is a whoopie pie. You can make it as chocolate-y as you want, wrap each individually so it's easy to serve. You can't get easier for transport and serving than those.

              9 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                winner, winner!! I'm defenseless in the face of whoopie pies!

                As a second choice, I would vote tarted-up brownies. Choc. /peanut butter layers, turtle brownies, salted caramel brownies, cheesecake brownies, etc.

                1. re: chowser

                  Yes, it's a poolside bbq, but not really looking for a nostalgia item. Whoopie Pie? I've never had or seen one. What's their draw? They look like a sandwich cookie with a sugary filling--are they tarted up somehow?

                  Still leaning toward more of a chocolate- rather than cocoa-based product if possible, and the simpler the better.

                  I'm probably (typically) overthinking this--maybe I should just dip bacon strips in chocolate.

                  thanks everyone for chiming in, it's keeping me motivated.

                  1. re: toodie jane

                    i dunno, tj, if "sandwich cookie with a sugary filling" doesn't sound deliciously tarted-up to you already... you may not be a whoopie pie kind of girl! ;-)

                    Seriously, they are more like cakes than cookies, but that's about the only diff from what you describe. I have never made one, only eaten them.

                    1. re: danna

                      I must admit that I've never been fond of sugary cream frostings. Now Swiss buttercream, m-m-m-m.

                      could I use the cookie recipe but do more of a ganache, sort of a sachertorte treatment--do you think that would fly? I love sachertorte with the kirsch, the apricot jam, the intense chocolate...

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        Part of it is that the sugar frosting is a much smaller amount than the cookie/cake and the cookie is more like a cake so think of it like a cupcake, only the ratio of frosting to cake is much lower. And with more top crust since that's on top and bottom. Yeah, actually, it's kind of like cutting the top off of two cup cakes and putting a little filling in the middle.

                        I think it would be really good w/ a sachertorte idea. I'd add a little mousse in the center or something like that to make it lighter.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Yeah, I think you'd need the mousse. I'm not so sure the whole cookie would hold together properly with just ganache. I think I'd make a more traditional cookie rather than the cakey-whoopie pie cookie if I wanted to sandwich ganache and jam (which does sound marvelous...sachercookie)

                          1. re: danna

                            so you're thinking more of a crispy cookie like a ginger snap? Have never had a whoopie pie so don't know what they're like, but from your description it sounds sort of muffin top-ish?

                            can you recommend a suitable chocolate cookie recipe, or do you think I could use a ginger snap recipe, leave out the molasses and sub cocoa pdr for ginger?

                            Making these Sat morning!

                  2. re: chowser

                    chowser, favorite WP cookie recipe?

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      Sorry, I just saw this. Weird that it didn't show up earlier.

                      http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/01/in-...

                  3. For our big BBQ (100+ people), I always make cupcakes. The first year I made them, I made them for the kids. Guess what? No kids got any -- the adults all scarfed them down. Then I started making them for everyone -- half chocolate, half vanilla with half of each type having the opposite frosting. There are never any left. You could do all chocolate with chocolate frosting. If you don't have the time to make 50 cupcakes from scratch, I highly recommend King Arthur Flour's cake chocolate cake mix and frosting. I started using that a couple of years back, and embarrassingly, people were BEGGING me for the recipe. I almost died! Since the icing is not a buttercream, the cupcakes don't need to be refrigerated, and believe me, everyone loves cupcakes!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: roxlet

                      Since I had the catalog right here, I looked it up .. do you mean: chocolate cake mix, 3436, $6.95 and
                      chocolate-fudge frosting mix, 3142, $5.95? Re: frosting: Rich, fluffy chocolate buttercream.

                      You'd said it did not need to be refrigerated since it's not a buttercream. (I'd love to find one that does not need refrigeration.)

                      1. re: walker

                        Yes, those are the ones, and no, they don't need refrigeration. I have made them for our big BBQ in the summer, and they sit on sheet pans in the dining room until dessert time. It's not buttercream, so it doesn't melt. One year, a friend of mine insisted on contributing the cupcakes. She made buttercream frosting and did incredible decorations, but it was a disaster-- the icing was sliding off by dessert time. That's never happened with the KA fudge frosting mix. And when you do the frosting, put it in a pastry bag if you have one, and use a big serrated tip, and everyone will think you're a decorating genius.

                        1. re: roxlet

                          So true, about the genius part. I have also learned that when piping icing on many cupcakes, to leave a tiny bit of the outside of the cake uniced so that when they're all jammed together on a plate, the edges, being uniced, don't get all messy.

                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                            +1,000,000. Especially in this weather.

                    2. Perhaps this is a bit of a different direction, but you could do some easy homemade confections... Peanut Butter Cups, mock Twix or snickers bars, or even mini mock Hostess Cupcakes, etc. Retirement and nostalgia... Return to youth.... just an idea.

                      1. The best chocolate brownies I have ever had are the ones I make using Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix (not their other types). I use virgin coconut oil instead of oil or butter, and add 1/2-3/4c chopped walnuts. I bake them for 15 min in two Pam-sprayed mini-muffin tins. Makes 24. Cool in pan 15 min before turning out onto cooling rack. I do this shape because I get a dense, fudgy interior and crisp exterior.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greygarious

                          I basically do this but with Dassant's Belgian Choc Brownie Mix (AKA Trader Joe's).

                          For this event, I am hoping to find something more memorable which really highlights the chocolate itself. Something unexpected, maybe? dunno. still looking.

                          Since the honoree was a firefighter, has anyone ever used smoke flavoring with chocolate? Or a firey chile flavor component? could I red pepper-dust some smoked fluer de sel?

                        2. Chocolate-dipped strawberries are perceived as "special" and super easy to make.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: letsindulge

                            add chocolate covered pineapples!

                          2. How about the Nutella Brownie Bites, 4 ingredients made in mini muffin tins..
                            http://savorysweetlife.com/2010/08/4-...

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: HillJ

                              I'd have to buy tins, but I'm liking the idea of easy assembly!

                              1. re: toodie jane

                                I just made a batch of these this morning, how funny. They are so simple and just the right hit of chocolate in a small bite. Any tin size/shape works; just adjust your baking time.

                                1. re: toodie jane

                                  in the case that you do, here are two options for silicone (which i LOVE to bake in). i personally own a ridiculous number of the first ones:

                                  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004...

                                  http://www.amazon.com/Chefs-Toolbox-S...

                                  1. re: Emme

                                    oh geeze - another cookware purchase! Have to, have to! Buying the top link.

                              2. I would do a huuuuuuuuge platter or two of anything I could find involving chocolate - decent chocolates, imported cookies, etc. I'm thinking specifically of the cookie aisle at my favorite Asian Market, and a few of the offerings at Cost Plus Imports, which has an outstanding international section. Give them something they haven't seen before!

                                IF you're into baking, and IF the hostess does have room for a few gallons of ice cream, you could make larger-than-usual chocolate snap cookies, and at serving time sandwich them together with scoops of ice cream. Last minute work for sure, but people really like them. And IF your hostess had room for a couple of flat sheet pans, you could make them in advance and take out about 15 minutes prior to serving them.

                                Otherwise, there's always renting a choccy fountain or fondue, if you happen to have access to something like that.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: mamachef

                                  ahhh - mamachef - haven't noticed you around recently - hope all is well.

                                  1. re: smilingal

                                    Hi, smilingal! How nice to see you, and how nice of you to say something! Things are pretty okay - life, being what life bees, is busy. As a friend of mine says, "Life. Some good, some bad." (But I'll take it!)
                                    I am glad to be back here; it's always nice to exchange information and ideas in our "grubby" little community. (Get it?)

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      got it! My theory is the sun is shining and I am here to see it!

                                2. I've been eyeing this recipe for a Chocolate Tart with Pretzel Crust. The recipe is for a large tart but I see no reason why it couldn't be done as individual bite-size tarts.

                                  http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/mi...

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: traceykl

                                    That's an amazing recipe, and you are talking to a lady who adores dipping pretzels into chocolate pudding. Speaking of pudding, a friend just shot me an email at another address: she suggested making a cooked vanilla pudding only with heavy cream and a stir-in of sour cream and cream cheese - sort of a cheesecake pudding, actually. No reason I couldn't do that and layer it with somesuch chopped fruits.

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      People have posted about topping pretzels with a Rolo and baking. I've never done it but it sounds like a good combination.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Wait wait, because this is one of the coolest things I've never heard about. What kind pretzels? The thin crisp ones, or pushcart types with coarse salt? Do you melt the Rolos and dip the pretzels, then bake? 'Cause I'm having a solid bitch of a time trying to figure out how otherwise to cover a thin pretzel or a thick one with just one Rolo Candy. Do you know? If not can you please find out for me and let me return the favor sometime?

                                        Thanks chowser!

                                        1. re: mamachef

                                          Not chowser but severely wishing I never saw this suggestion...
                                          http://www.mommyskitchen.net/2009/12/...

                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            These are great! My mother had them at a party a couple of years ago and started experimenting with variations. They're adorable and extremely popular.

                                            1. re: marthasway

                                              I bet, I'm going to do them when I visit family, so they don't all go straight down my gullet.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                Heloise just revisited these in her column--she refuses to mention Rolo's brand name, but it was these.

                                                I make choc-drizzled carmel & nut rods at Christmas. Messy but fun. You could just break/chop everything into a big bowl and toss to coat with melted chocolate, then drop onto sheets to firm up.

                                          2. re: mamachef

                                            I think it's the ones that cross in the middle and look like faces (at least in my mind), like these:

                                            http://www.snydersofhanover.com/Produ...

                                            You place them on a cookie, sheet, top each one w/ a rolo and bake until melted. I'm guessing 350 for 5-8 minutes? I have no idea how long it takes a rolo to melt!

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Here it is, an even better form because she added pecans.

                                              http://steamykitchen.com/193-rolo-pre...

                                    2. I made these for one of our dinner club nights http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2009/09... Worth every bit of effort. I didn't have tart rings so I used mini tart pans instead...a bit nerve wracking getting them out but they all came out perfectly.

                                      These have been on my list for some time - http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2009/02...

                                      1. I ended up making brownies even though I wanted something more unusual, because they didn't require any fussing or refrigeration; one with smokey bacon and a coconut/caramel/pecan filling, and one with a filling of goat cheese and peanut butter, with Mexican chocolate spices. The first was best fresh, and the second improved with a few days. Both were inspired by offerings at a local cafe, The Neon Carrot.

                                        Thanks for all your advice and encouragement--I've bookmarked this thread for future explorations!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                          damn...those sound awesome! I would have had to have both. Can you elaborate on how you made them?

                                          1. re: toodie jane

                                            here is recipe for Bacon etc:

                                            Macaroon Brownies w/Bacon

                                            3/4 c melted butter (just to creamy stage) (sub in 2 T bacon fat)

                                            1 1/2 c sugar

                                            1 1/2 tsp vanilla

                                            4 to 5 drops liquid smoke

                                            3/4 c baking cocoa

                                            3 eggs

                                            1 1/2 c flour
                                            1 tsp salt

                                            1 tsp b powder

                                            8 to 10 slices extra meaty bacon cooked till chewy, not crisp, fat bits removed

                                            filling:

                                            4 c sweetened coconut

                                            1 14 oz can sweetened evaporated milk

                                            1 tsp vanilla

                                            1/4 tsp salt

                                            1 c chopped pecans

                                            1 jar Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce

                                            Butter and flour a 9x13 pan; preheat oven to 350 or 325 for glass pan.

                                            Combine filling ingredients, hold out caramel sauce and nuke the jar for 10 seconds and stir well for pourability. You don't want it too thin.

                                            Mix fats, sugar, flavorings, and cocoa. Whisk in eggs. Stir in dry ingredients and rough-chopped bacon meat, folding with a spatula till combined. Spread 1/2 the batter in pan. Then by spoonfuls or with your fingers, drop cocnut filling onto batter to roughly cover. Pour about 1/2 jar of caramel sauce over in thick uneven ribbons--you want only pockets of caramel, not an even layer. Pour rest of batter over, spread to corners, sprinkle with JUST A PINCH of kosher salt, and bake 40 to 45 minutes, turning pan 1/2 way through. Remove and cool on rack. Cut into 1 1/2" squares when fully cool. I used a bench scraper, going straight down, for cleaner sides. Store tightly covered up to a week. Best flavor after 2 or 3 days.

                                            ***************************************************

                                            Mexican Chocolate--Peanut Butter--Goat Cheese Brownies w/Nibs

                                            I package Dassant/Trader Joe's Belgian Choc Brownie Mix

                                            1/2 tsp vanilla

                                            1/2 tsp cinnamon

                                            1/8 tsp Chinese Five-Spice blend (opt)

                                            1/4 tsp cayenne (opt)

                                            1/2 c cocoa nibs (opt)

                                            filling:

                                            1/2 cup fresh goat cheese

                                            1/2 c fresh chunky peanut butter (I used a drier, natural-style)

                                            mix together, add 1 tsp. honey to sweeten if using unsweetened p-nut butter

                                            Butter an 8" square pan, preheat oven to 350.

                                            Prepare brownie mix per box directions, adding in flavorings and nibs and subbing 2 T walnut oil for some of the butter if available.

                                            Spread 1/2 batter in the pan, pushing to corners. Bake for 10 minutes; while baking, form heaping tablespoon balls of cheese mixture. Remove brownie pan and place on trivet; working quickly, flatten balls of cheese mixture in your palms and place lightly over batter as evenly as possible, then drop the rest of batter over the top by spoonsful, spreading with a rubber spatula to roughly cover the cheese mixture. Bake to the end of recommended time, test with a toothpick or cake tester. If sides start to pull away from pan, it should be done. Cool on rack, cut and remove from pan to a tightly covered tin. These are best 2 or 3 days later. The nibs give a nice crunch and chocolate blast as well. The goat cheese and peanut butter blend well together!

                                            I'd had brownies with these flavor combos at a cafe, so I searched for recipes, then adapted them as I made them. I used the mix because I had it, and wanted to see how it worked with add-ins. It did well! It's a pretty fool-proof mix, just ask me ;^)

                                            1. re: toodie jane

                                              Ummm...thanks! I can't wait to try them, espeically the goat cheese and peanut butter. And I have some nibs in the pantry that have been waiting for their chance!

                                          2. I made these Cupcakes In Jars (http://www.cakespy.com/blog/2009/8/24...) for my son's birthday party. You can do any flavor cupcake and frosting, and there are endless possibilities of "goodies" to put in there as well. I made them ahead of time and froze them. Based on the temperature outside, you could bring them frozen and allow them to thaw during the party, or else thaw them yourself. (Or not freeze at all...

                                            )

                                            They were great!!!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: jbsiegel

                                              I read the recipe and am confused. She calls them cupcakes but proceeds to describe baking the batter in 8 x 2" deep pans. Did she forget to change her description to that of cupcakes in liners? My question is : why not bake the batter in the jars? they're oven-proof. Cute idea and might be good, if very well-packed.

                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                I guess I didn't read that part of the directions that closely. I just baked cupcakes and then sliced in half horizontally. I put half in each jar, then a swirl of frosting followed by the other half and then more frosting and finally some M&Ms. They were GREAT! I didn't want to bake in the jar because I wanted the middle layer of frosting.

                                                I bought a couple cases of Mason jars. They came in boxes with dividers between each jar (like a 6-pack of beer would have). I just put them back into compartments in the box and froze them that way. Easy transporting to the party...

                                                1. re: jbsiegel

                                                  I'm excited about this for shipping. Fantastic idea and cute as a button.

                                            2. Two 9 x 13 pans of brownies will feed 50. Top them with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and some raspberry sauce (put a couple of bags of frozen red raspberries through the Cuisinart with a little sugar and a shot of some appropriate liqueur).

                                              1. This one lends itself to all the requirements, but a small container and a spoon will be required. I think actually a cup, even heavy paper, would work if you keep these chilled until service. Anyway. It's just individually-made-and-portioned versions of the Nabisco Chocolate Wafer roll, which in this incarnation is two of the chocolate wafers sandwiched with and frosted with lightly-sweetened vanilla whipped cream. You could make these and frost them by standing them on edge once they are filled, and then continuing with the outsides. You'd serve them flat, after chilling for 24 hours and then dusting w/ cocoa powder and garnishing with berries, if you wish. At any rate, the cream transforms the crisp cookies into a wonderful, mousse-y cakey texture. They're fantastic. Two ingredients; minimal work once you get a flow going; simply delicious and deceptively simple.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                  haha! you're assuming I have room in my fridge for a big tray to hold these!! maybe three or four, but I'd have to eat the rest...!

                                                  1. re: toodie jane

                                                    Well, the last part doesn't sound SO bad. So Caloric, yes, but not bad. : ) There are some great ideas here. What did you decide to do? Hey, if you wanted to do a spin on the truffles you mentioned, you could do......truffle pops!

                                                2. There's always cookies when in doubt. The concept might not sound unusual but depending on what you add in you could make them very exotic (even just adding unusual spices like ginger to a chocolate chip cookie recipe). Plus, they wouldn't need to be refrigerated and could be made small enough to be called finger food.