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Need small finger desserts for a crowd

I'm organizing a dessert reception for the alumni and trustees at my kids' school. They're expecting about 100 people. I'm thinking I'll need about 400 small pieces as the guests will all be well-fed at the luncheon immediately preceding this.

Usually, the person who does this buys mini eclairs, etc., from a wholesale club, but I'd like to throw in some homemade desserts as well. I have someone making Nick's Supernatural Brownies, but would like 4 or 5 more homemade items to supplement the boring store-bought goodies.

Any suggestions/recipes for desserts that can be made in large quantities, don't require a spoon or fork (little paper or foil cups are fine) and can be frozen?

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    1. Small little pie tarts would be nice and are easy to make.

      1. Although I've never done it, a quick Chowhound search says that lemon curd freezes fine. Also lasts in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

        I love lemon curd and blueberries together. Maybe get those little frozen phyllo cups, put a spoonful of lemon curd in the bottom, top with blueberries. Since they're out of season, I'd get frozen ones and make a thick sauce. A little dollop of that over the curd and you've saved yourself the glazing step that you would have had with fresh berries.

        Alternatively, lemon bars cut into one-bite pieces. Either of these in paper cups.

        Some kind of bark? I don't know that that freezes, but I would think it would keep for at least a week in an airtight container. Candy makers can chime in on that.

        I wonder if tassies freeze? Sorry, I'm not being of more help on that question. I'm just trying to think of chocolate, fruity, lemon, a variety of offerings.

        Seasonally, depending on where you are, something pumpkin? Tiny pumpkin whoopie pies come to mind, but while the cookies should freeze fine, you might have to do the filling at the last minute, and I'm not sure how that factors into your timing.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nemo

          Yes, I was thinking of lemon bars, too. They are my go-to dessert for a potluck or crowd, and they are always gobbled up. I use the "lemon curd squares" recipe from my 1970s edition of "Joy of Cooking". My only adjustment is that I simply use the zest and juice of a whole lemon for each batch, rather than fussing with their measurements. I make them the night before, since they seem to transport better if they've chilled overnight in the fridge.

          1. re: nemo

            The only downside with bark is that in lower temps (like the freezer and some fridges) the chocolate will oxidize and discolor. Although it doesn't affect the taste, it may put some people off.

          2. Homemade nut butter cups(peanut, almond, cashew), or tri- level brownies. Its a oatmeal type bottom, brownie middle, and chocolate icing top.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mariars

              Love homemade PB cups, but to make them in really high quantity by hand can sort of be a PITA...

            2. Two that never get left over at my parties: pecan tassies, and mini cupcakes. I make both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and both chocolate and vanilla frosting. Then I frost half of each kind with some of each frosting. With a pastry bag and a star tube, it takes no time at all, and looks lovely.

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  A blast from my past! Forgot about these! On the menu for TG eve.. we're having a soiree.

                2. Seven Layer Magic Bars. I have brought them to a million events and they are always a HUGE hit.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: valerie

                    Second these.

                    Or Nanaimo Bars.

                    Or Millionaire Shortbread.

                    1. re: Emme

                      Millionaire shortbread would be great. They freeze well, too.

                  2. Salted caramel shortbread squares.. This would probably make about 18 two-bite pieces:

                    2/3 cup butter
                    1/3 cup sugar
                    1 ¼ cups flour

                    Press into bottom of parchment-lined 8x8; bake at 350 til golden, about 15 minutes.

                    1 cup sugar
                    4 tbsp. butter
                    ½ cup heavy cream
                    2 tsp. vanilla
                    Sea salt

                    Combine sugar, butter, and cream in a pot. Cook mixture until temperature reaches about 241 degrees (you want the mixture to hit 244 degrees, but it’ll coast another few degrees off the heat). Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and pour onto crust, then immediately sprinkle with salt. Let cool until set, then lift out of pan and cut into squares.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lagne

                      These sound fantastic! Thank you!

                    2. Key Lime Squares
                      Easy and very portable.

                      1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature
                      1/2 cup (125 mL) icing sugar
                      2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
                      1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

                      4 eggs, beaten
                      2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar
                      1/3 cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour
                      2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated lemon zest (option)
                      1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lime zest (option )
                      3 tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice
                      3 tbsp (45 mL) lime juice
                      Icing sugar for dusting

                      1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

                      2. In a food processor or by hand, mix together butter, icing sugar, flour and salt until well blended. The mixture will look like fine breadcrumbs. Pat into a 9 x 13-inch (3-L) greased pan. Prick with fork. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is a creamy gold. It's like a shortbread.

                      3. With an electric mixer or by hand, beat together eggs, granulated sugar, flour, zests (if using) and juices. Pour the mixture over the cooked base.

                      4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Cut into squares then liberally dust with icing sugar.

                      Makes about 30 squares

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                        This looks somewhat similar to my mom's recipe for lemon bars, only better, 'cuz it has lime in it! I may have to make these for my family just to try them out, perhaps instead of dinner!

                      2. Another good option might be baklava.

                        1. Thanks, all, for your great ideas.

                          1. I hate to suggest something unrefined like rice krispie treats, but they tend to be very popular in crowds... nostalgia maybe? You can do twists on them to make them more interesting and upscale, like adding raspberry jam to the marshmallow mixture and white chocolate bits; or peanut butter; or nutella, etc. They're easy to make, to boot.

                            If you feel like going to the trouble of macaroons (I find these quick to whip up a lot), they freeze quite well.

                            Homemade twix bars - essentially shortbread covered with caramel covered with semisweet tempered chocolate.

                            Different flavored meringues

                            Fruit kebabs either with a yogurt dipping sauce or with some herbs or grapefruit or lime juice drizzled

                            Chocolate dipped fruits (white or dark)

                            Streusel Coffee cake

                            you might also consider putting out some cheese if the budget allows...

                            good luck!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Emme

                              Here's a whole thread about doing variations on Rice Krispie treats:


                            2. Have you seen those mini phyllo dough cup thingies? I'm not sure what they're really called but those with fillings could be good.