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Very very easy dessert for large groups

Hi, I love to cook but desserts are not my strength (or delight). I want to cater my own 40's bday party and I need to figure out what dessert to make. I don't mind buying it if it's good, but don't want to spent lots of $$$$.
I was thinking, for example, in the Costco mini brownies but I was hoping someone would have some ideas on how to "dressed them up"
Any ideas welcome!!!
Thanks a lot!!!

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  1. A banana bread pudding with caramel sauce is always a hit; and it's easy - very very easy, and inexpensive.
    "Dressing up" some commercial product doesn't impress anyone and it certainly doesn't match home made desserts.
    Two 9x18 pans will make enough for 40 servings 4x4 and you'll have some left for breakfast.

    1. kettle corn popcorn balls. make 'em yourself, no baking needed!

      1. store-bought baked goods always taste store-bought, no matter how you try to gussy them up.

        a b-day party needs cake! google wacky cake. it comes together in seconds and can be made into a layer cake. finish with whipped cream and berries. could not be simpler.

        1. This cake is so simple and sinfully chocolate:

          Texas Sheet Cake

          • 2 cups all-purpose flour
          • 2 cups sugar
          • 1 teaspoon baking soda
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt
          • 1 cup butter
          • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
          • 2 eggs
          • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
          • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
          • .
          • Chocolate Frosting:
          • 1/4 cup butter
          • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
          • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
          • 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
          • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
          • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
          Grease a 15X10X1-inch or jelly roll pan or a 13X9X2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

          In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 cup cocoa, and 1 cup of water.
          Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. With an electric hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat chocolate mixture into the dry mixture until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute (batter will be thin). Pour batter into the prepared pan.
          Bake in a 350° oven about 25 minutes for the 15X10-inch pan or 35 minutes for the 13X9-inch pan, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
          Pour warm chocolate frosting over the warm cake, spreading evenly. Place cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly before cutting.
          Makes 24 servings.
          In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup butter or margarine, 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons buttermilk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth. If desired, stir in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans.

          Don't exactly know where I got the recipe, but was always glad I had on hand. Note: do not cover the cake or it will get very gooey.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MartiniGenie

            Texas sheet cake is very easy and always a crowd pleaser. I'd just add a tub of decent ice cream, too, and the cake will stretch even further.

          2. Pineapple Cake (you can make this with your eyes closed in under an hour!)

            Blend together in a bowl:

            2 cups flour

            2 cups sugar

            2 tsp. baking soda

            2 eggs

            2 tsp. vanilla extract

            1 16 oz can crushed pineapple, drained of liquid (gotta be crushed style tho)

            Fold in: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

            Bake in a 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins. (super fast cake)


            Top cooled cake with whipped this cream cheese frosting:

            Whip together:

            1 8 oz softened cream cheese

            1.5 sticks softened sweet butter

            2 cups confectioner's sugar

            2 tsp. vanilla extract

            Fold in: (1/4 cup bits of crused pineapple-no-juice, optional)

            Refrig til served. Taste great cold or room temp. Served with coffee, perfection. It is NOT without its sweet-factor but as far as EASY goes, this is easy!

            If you love pineapple this is the super-simple, make it and forget it cake.

            1. Ice Box Cake--no cooking, make ahead, everybody loves it
              http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2007/0... This one is very fancy layered--it can also just be done in a pan

              1 Reply
              1. re: escondido123

                Fantastic love this recipe!!! It is the same concept that the bday cake I am planning to do!!!

              2. a few questions:
                - how "large" is this group? are we talking 20 guests? 50? 100?
                - since you're the honoree, what would YOU like for your birthday dessert?
                - what else are you serving?

                8 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  We will be ~ 60 people. I am doing a "tapas" like menu:

                  -A type of Caponata (onions, bell peppers and eggplant) - over crackes or crostini
                  -Halibut ceviche with avocado
                  -Avocado, jicama, mango, beet and shrimp cold salad
                  -Lver pate
                  -Sauted mushrooms with onion and oyster sauce in china soup spoons
                  -Some cheese like manchego, but haven't decided how to serve it
                  -One warm and filling soup (lentils, creamed spinach) or chilli, but haven't decided what. problem is how to serve it since I might have ot buy some melamine soup coups or something like that.
                  -Small Honey pork sandwiches on dinner rolls
                  -Small ham, gruyere and caramelized onions sandwiches on focaccia bread
                  -Llittle pork and lamb meatballs with eggplant (fantastic recipe!!!!)
                  -Phyllo dough nest with goat cheese and pears (have to find the recipe)

                  I will make a cake "Chocotorta" from Argentina, is amazing and similar concept to the Ice Box Cake that escondido123 suggested. Here is a link:

                  I am planning to serve cheese and quince paste small bites (also typical dessert from argentina).

                  The sweets I like are creme brulee and palmiers and fruit tarts. I love the small fruit tarts that Whole Foods sells, but they are very expensive for this type of events. I and believe too labor intense if I decide to make them my self.


                  1. re: chiarlau

                    I am planning to serve cheese and quince paste small bites (also typical dessert from argentina).
                    darn it! when i saw the rest of your menu i was going to suggest miniature guava cheesecakes, but they'd be too similar. maybe you could do mini dulce de leche cheesecakes, or ricotta tarts with fruit topping? all easy to do in muffin tins...

                      1. re: chiarlau

                        absolutely! in fact, i prefer to make them ahead - they're even better after a day in the fridge. just leave at room temp for at least an hour before serving to remove the chill.

                    1. re: chiarlau

                      Since you're not above buying premade, what about getting the phyllo cups and filling w/ fruit? That would be super easy. You could do it w/ pastry cream, marscarpone mousse, cheesecake filling, etc. and top w/ fruit.


                      1. re: chowser

                        Yeah this would be great. Do they test good?
                        Can I warm them up in the oven? Thanks!

                        1. re: chiarlau

                          I like them and they're always a hit when I make them. Yes, as others have said, premade/processed won't be as good as home made. However, especially with something like phyllo, when you're short on time, it's a good short cut. They do bake well, too. I've made them both sweet and savory, cold and hot. I do think they're better hot.

                      2. re: chiarlau

                        Since it's a tapas menu - I love doing little bites of dessert too.

                        I've done fresh baked cookies - make the dough(s) ahead & scoop into the right size (I think you can even freeze at that point) - then pop into the oven before serving. The smell alone warms everyone up. If you want to stay simple - maybe do 1 base dough & differentiate with a variety of mix-ins (choc chip, nuts, white choc, cranberries, etc.).

                        A few cookies apiece plus your chocotorta = happy bellies.

                        PS - you didn't ask, but ... you could serve the soup in coffee mugs with handles. Very cozy & easy to slurp or spoon as you walk around. I bet you could find a bunch at a dollar-type store (or a craft store).

                    2. You could make a brownies trifle w/ those brownies. And/or use their cream puffs and make a croquembouche.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chowser

                        There is a recipe for a trifle that uses chocolate instant pudding and sweetened condensed milk, cool whip, brownies and a crshed candy bar (I use heath bar). It's really easy to make. Trifle is great because you can use store bought things like cake or brownies and its still delicious.

                      2. Vanilla ice cream with a choice of sauces and toppings. Can't go wrong unless you have lactose intolerant guests.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greygarious

                          Great idea and would work over the brownies, if the OP has her heart set on them.

                        2. If you have a big pan, like a roasting pan, bananas Foster is very easy, people love them, and they will impress your guests. Just do an assembly line so they scoop their own ice cream and swing by the stove.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: tim irvine

                            you're suggesting all the guests should each flame their own dessert? jeebus, you must throw hella parties.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              I'd just dump the brown sugar and butter in the pan and proceed, drawing a crowd, and then to get the dawdlers up I'd flame the whole batch. It always drives me nuts when you yell "It's ready...come here and load your plate!" and folks in the other room just keep drinking. Hot food should be served and eaten, not left to cool. Starting a fire ought to get their attention!

                              1. re: tim irvine

                                i do have a crush for firemen... hmmmmmm....


                            2. re: tim irvine

                              Love the idea, but the kitchen is very narrow and won't work :-(

                            3. Dump Cake !!! Family and friends go crazy for it. There are other versions and this one's mine, shared by a former colleague.

                              1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple (in syrup) undrained
                              1 21-oz. can cherry (or blueberry, blackberry, apple, etc.) pie filling
                              1 yellow cake mix (regular, NOT pudding-in-the-mix kind)
                              1 cup chopped nuts (your favorite, we use walnuts)
                              1 stick butter (NOT margarine!)

                              Lightly grease 9 x 13 pan.

                              Spread crushed pineapple and cherry pie filling in bottom of pan; stir to mix evenly. Sprinkle cake mix in an even layer on top and smooth with hand (don't mix with fruit layer). Sprinkle nuts evenly on top. Slice butter into very thin slices (easiest if butter is very cold) and place evenly over entire top of the cake. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until the top is golden brown and fruit is bubbly.

                              Serve warm or cold.

                              About 12 servings.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: AuntieJen

                                Please tell me, do you mix the cake mix or sprinkle it on dry???? It sounds delicious!!

                                1. re: daneidre

                                  Sprinkle on dry. I like to eat dump cake served with ice cream.

                                  1. re: daneidre

                                    Thanks so much for your reply, can I use a pound cake pan or should I use a square pan??

                                2. i am about the same age so I would fix the dessert of my childhood....homemade ch chip cookies!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: LaLa

                                    I would do a sundae bar, couple different ice creams, chocolate and caramel sauce, some fruit and nuts and sprinkles. Get creative if there are kids around. Throw some booze out for the adults (like bailey's and frangelico).

                                    1. re: LaLa

                                      Nice :-) we are in the same page "Chocotorta" is the typical dessert for kids in argentina, but it is sooo good that now they even make them for weddings!

                                    2. Ice cream sundae bar.

                                      Good quality ice cream, delicious toppings.

                                      1. Thanks a lot for your replies and great ideas!!! I love cooking (and eating) savory things so I was planning to put all my energy in that part of the menu and do a couple of easy desserts. But I guess people do love sweets, so I will be worth doing something nice. I still prefer to put most of the energy in the savory part but I guess I will end up doing a couple of easy cake recipes.
                                        How many cakes do I need for ~60 people?

                                        However If you have any easy sweet bites ideas, to serve in tapas style, please let me know!!

                                        Thanks!!! This is my first post and I am thrilled to find this wonderful resource!!!

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: chiarlau

                                          9 inch cakes typically cut into 8 slices, but cakes for larger groups can be made in larger baking dishes, then cut into smallish, bite-sized squares. an 8 inch square cake can be cut into 12 pieces, ya know? sounds like you have loads of food, so won't need as much cake! it would be nice to have a chocolate option, and either fruit or lemon for the non-choco types. lemon squares are always an big hit, or some kind of coconut-lemon cake.

                                          1. re: chiarlau

                                            what about mini cheese cakes or mini cupcakes. for the cheese cakes you can use Nilla wafers, like this recipe:
                                            amp it up with a nice home made fruit compote on top.
                                            I find any cupcake recipe works well as a mini. Red Velvet are especially impressive.

                                            1. re: cleopatra999

                                              Cleopatra!! I love the mini cheescake recipe!! I think I wil make them, thanks a lot!!

                                            2. re: chiarlau

                                              easy sweet bites ideas.....

                                              Ooh, what about mini tarts... lemon, pecan, cheesecake, brownie.

                                              Here's one:

                                              1. re: AuntieJen

                                                I love these , but Im afraid it would take a lot of time that I prefer to spend in the savory part of the menu, thanks!

                                            3. Truffles are actually really easy, as long as you're not putting a hard chocolate shell on them, which requires tempering. The centers are just chocolate and cream melted and chilled, no big deal. The standard coating is just cocoa, but you can play with that--some people use finely chopped nuts, or you can use something like crushed Oreos or pretzels. Or do s'more ones by putting a tiny marshmallow in the center and then rolling them in graham cracker crumbs. There's a lot of room for creativity without a lot of difficulty. Good luck!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Skippy1414

                                                This sounds pretty easy and fast. I assume the result will depend a lot on the chocolate's quality, doesn't it?

                                                1. re: chiarlau

                                                  If you weren't worried about them being individual bites then a chocolate pate is along the same lines as a truffles, easy to make, basically a ganache that you freeze and slice, serve at fridge temp. Or if you have enough vessels (large shooter glasses can work) you could do a pot au creme. Again super easy to do, serve with a mini spoon. you could do several flavours (vanilla, chocolate etc).

                                                  1. re: chiarlau

                                                    Yes, good quality chocolate is always important when there are so few ingredients involved, but to be totally honest, I've made them a few times with melted down grocery store Ghirardelli chocolate chips and people were still thrilled because they were, well, chocolate; it always depends on your audience. The good part is that you can easily make them ahead of time so you can devote yourself to other parts of your menu on the day of.the event