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Sophisticated no-refrigeration potluck/barbecue dessert ideas please

I am attending a barbecue this weekend and have offered to take something. I usually stay away from desserts because they always seem to be overrepresented and uninteresting and I always feel like I've accomplished more if people are talking about an asparagus and white bean salad than if they like a brownie (duh). All that being said, boyfriend spoke for me to take a dessert. I would have really liked to take a trifle or cheesecake (or cheesecake bars) but I don't know that there will be refrigeration available. I have tried to use the search function but not much success, so links to other threads are quite welcome. Thanks!

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  1. Boyfriend spoke, get boyfriend to make pud!!! Only joking, I end up in the same situation frequently...how about a tart of some sort? I've been having a phase of making bakewell tarts which always go down well, don't need refrigerating and aren't terribly fragile. On your cheesecake theme, you could make some mini tarts with a lemon cheese filling which once again don't need to be kept cold and are less likely to collapse than a normal cheesecake. Alternatively, try a moist, flourless orange almond cake.

    1. Honestly, I'd find a really special brownie recipe from a trusted source, and I'd make that. You can pick up a brownie in your hand, and it doesn't require a fork or extra napkins--something to think about at a picnic or barbecue. People adore brownies. You can go as decadent as you want, or you can choose exemplary ingredients and keep the brownie simple and traditional. In other words you have a lot of scope. I am sure you could even find a layered brownie, if you looked.

      1. Rhubarb/ Rhubarb Strawberry Bars- nothin' say's spring like it ;-)

        2 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          I think that would be delicious. Like Blondie Bars (basically a brownie in texture, but no chocolate and with a swirl of butterscotch), cook the rhubarb strawberry into a sweet syrup and swirl it into the blondie batter. Would slice easily so people can eat them out of hand.

        2. 1. I don't think that barbecues are supposed to be sophisticated. You are eating outdoors! (My father used to say "The world started going to hell when people started eating outdoors and crapping in doors.)

          Go with the simple solutions like cookies, brownies and sheet cakes but try to make them special in some way. An unusual shape or something on a stick or decorated in an unusual way. It's kind of over done now but cake pops stuck in a styrofoam block would be memorable especially if you decorated them.

          By the way, if you want to take an asparagus and white bean salad, take it, too. No law says you can't do both. I for one would be talking about it. Can you believe someone brought an asparagus and white bean salad...to a barbecue?!!?? I wonder if anyone but her husband will eat it? Well, he has to. Not trying to be mean... trying to be funny. :-)

          9 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            Actually I have had the asparagus salad at a barbecue (well, barbecue was steaks, but anyhow) and it WAS a big hit. When I suggested sophisticated I was speaking more in terms of flavor combinations. I don't see anything wrong with wanting to take a lemon-blueberry coffeecake or an apricot-oatmeal bar or chocolate espresso shortbread as opposed to a typical brownie!

            1. re: bblonde

              Then take a "lemon-blueberry coffeecake or an apricot-oatmeal bar or chocolate espresso shortbread". Sounds like you solved your own problem.

              1. re: bblonde

                My goodness if you want to make a lemon-blueberry coffeecake, do it. Your friends will really appreciate it.

                1. re: bblonde

                  brownies don't have to be "typical." salted caramel, or goat cheese, or Mexican, or bourbon & bacon, or Smitten Kitchen's spiced brownies...would all be a nice departure. as would blondies (and i vote for chocolate chunks and crisp glazed bacon bits as the add-ins for those).

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I love Blondies too. With bacon bits sounds interesting. I think I'd rather have a Blondie as a regular brownie.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      the salty, smoky bacon bits are the perfect foil for the sweet brown sugar/butterscotch flavor of blondies, and i love bacon with chocolate.

                      oh, and i forgot to mention earlier that browning the butter makes for even better blondies.

                  2. re: bblonde

                    Not a typical brownie but always a crowd pleaser, Dorie Greenspan's chipster topped brownie (combination of chocolate chip cookie on top of a brownie):

                    http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2009/05...

                    The most popular thing I've ever brought, as bar cookies go, is brown butter toffee bars. They are so much better than you'd expect--browned butter adds a nice touch:

                    http://www.marthastewart.com/350047/b...

                    Then there's Elvis cake that hits the spot (banana chocolate chip cake w/ pb frosting). I'll bet it would be great topped w/ candied bacon. I brought it to a party, a week later subbed for a friend and the whole class had heard about it and wanted to know how it was made.

                    http://www.foodaphilia.com/2007/07/el...

                    These are all kind of low brow, I guess, not sophisticated. You could always add sea salt and that seems to impress people. Or salted caramel.

                    1. re: bblonde

                      I recently added a big spoon of instant espresso powder and a small spoon of ancho chili powder to a brownie mix (Betty Crocker maybe?) and they were a big hit. I too am not a big dessert person - seldom make them or eat them.

                      1. re: Berheenia

                        i add espresso powder to every chocolate recipe. it really adds dimension to the flavor profile, without tasting specifically of "coffee."

                  3. am going to a cook-out sunday, also without refrigeration. will make peanut butter and jelly blondies and strawberry crumb cake. both easily eaten out-of-hand and a change from chocolate everything that most people make.

                    have been to numerous potucks with these same folks and there are always at least 3 pans of brownies, lol.