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Jun 4, 2012 11:19 AM

Make-ahead desserts? Freezing cookies?


I am hosting a big housewarming party this weekend and I'd love to make as much as possible in advance.

I'm looking for make-ahead dessert ideas. I'm resigned to having to make chocolate chip cookies because they're simple, but even those would need to be made in advance.

How long could I refrigerate the dough? Can I refrigerate formed dough balls?

Should I make the cookies in advance and freeze them instead?

Any other good make-ahead desserts?

I'm also thinking dip and pasta salad in marinades that "get better as they sit" -- open to ideas on those too.


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  1. I like to make my cookie dough, form into dough balls, and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. They can then be put into plastic bags and held for quite a while! When ready to bake, just bake frozen and add a few minutes baking time as needed. There's nothing like the smell of freshly baked cookies to wow at a housewarming party!

    1. i agree with christine on the cookies - prepare & freeze the dough, and just pop into the oven to bake that day.

      truffles & cheesecake pops are great make-ahead dessert options as long as you have space in the fridge to store them. you might also consider a cut fruit platter (with a yogurt dip that can be made in advance) and/or a nut & cheese platter.

      dips: spicy black bean, Moroccan-spiced carrot, white bean with balsamic & roasted garlic, hummus, baba ghannouj, herbed ricotta or goat cheese...all even better after sitting for a day or two.

      roasted & spiced chickpeas or spiced/glazed nuts always go over well, and you can certainly make those ahead of time. (just portion them out into mini muffin/cupcake liners so people aren't sticking their hands into a communal bowl.)

      1. Curlyspice; I often bake cookies and freeze them, if you really want to get that all done. I just wrap them in waxed paper and then freeze them in Tupperware. Brownies, blondies, and unfrosted cakes also freeze well..

        1. i freeze cookies and bars all the time. they store very well this way. also most will last several days if sealed tightly in ziploc or tupperware, so will free up freezer space if that is an issue for you.

          don't know where in the world you are, but this weekend is predicted to be in the 80s in my neck of the woods, so i'd prefer to have the oven going as little as possible with a house full of people.

          is this a lunch or dinner-type affair?

          ghg makes excellent rec's for dips. a big tray of spanakopita, cut into squares, can be made ahead and is very good room temp.

          oven-baked fried chicken can be cooked ahead and served cold or room temp.

          imho, i don't think pasta salad is ever good, and just gets even worse, as it sits. the pasta gets mushy and bloated. yuk. other grains, like cous-cous, barley, and even rice, VERY LIGHTLY dressed, and tossed generously with herbs and nuts, make a better alternative.

          1. It's going to be 87 and we have no A/C so while I love the idea of baking cookies on the day-of, I think it's asking for trouble.

            So the question is, do I make the cookies the day before and seal them in an airtight container overnight? Or bake them now and freeze them until Saturday?

            Here's what I'm thinking for the rest of the menu:
            -Cheesy Turkey in a crock pot
            -Assorted crudites
            -Chips or pita bread
            -Black bean dip
            -Spinach dip
            -Maybe an orzo or pasta salad?

            In the garage, where the party will be centered, I'll put out cookies, m&ms, glazed nuts, and maybe pretzles or flavored popcorn.

            Thoughts? There'll be a keg in the garage (yes, we're classy) -- if I'm also putting out a few bottles of wine, would you put them inside or out?

            3 Replies
            1. re: curlyspice

              if you have the room, bake and freeze. one less thing to worry about later in the week. :)

              with your weather forecast, i'd think twice about m&m's and chocolate chips though. same with glazed nuts. they're gonna get very melty and messy. brownies, blondies, even wacky cake, come together in a snap and will hold up better in the heat. trader joe's sells some pretty funky-flavored nuts that i like a lot, if you have access to one.

              have you thought about pinwheel sandwiches? they can be made up the day before. butter the wrap, lay down a piece of lettuce as a moisture barrier and use your choice of fillings. wrap tightly and store in the fridge. you can take them out and slice. a little heartier than dips and less messy to eat.

              i'd put the wine out with the beer, if you have some sort of ice tub for the white.

              don't forget some n/a drinks. i can't tolerate much booze in that kind of heat.

              have fun!!

              1. re: curlyspice

                I've had great luck putting a piece of bread in with cookies when i seal them overnight. I ran out of sandwich bread (the suggestion from whatever blog I was reading at the time) so I used a slightly stale hot dog bun. If you have time the day before to bake the cookies that's what I'd to - but only because I know how that turns out and I've never frozen baked cookies, so I don't have a point of reference for that.

                1. re: curlyspice

                  If it were me, I'd put the wine in the garage, and also lots of water. Water with the food, too, if people will be spending much time in the rest of the house.

                  I think the menu sounds good. It would be nice to add sandwiches and an orzo/pasta salad if the party will go on for awhile. I do an orzo salad that's just orzo, halved grape tomatoes, halved mozzarella balls (the smaller ones), basil chiffonade and balsamic viniagrette that goes over well. But there's lots of good ideas out there. I also like the idea of the pinwheel sandwiches. You could easily do a few variations (different meats, or a veggie option) with a pack or two of wraps.