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Dessert for 30 - Help please

I need to provide dessert for 30 hungry graduating seniors and faculty. It will need to be transported by car and should be somewhat celebratory. I am considering a large carrot cake with cream cheese icing, but figured you folks could be helpful with alternative suggestions. Unfortunately, we are still in the last gasp of spring snow here in MN, so ice cream desserts may be out for the time being and fruits are not yet fresh. What would you do if you wanted to impress your students without too much work?

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    1. For 30, you want something the size of a sheet pan. You could do a chocolate ganache based "mousse cake". (I use ganache because mousse with whipped cream is too loose for slicing easily).

      Make a base of brownie mix. Then top with chocolate ganache (equal parts melted chocolate, scalding cream, a bit of butter, and some corn syrup). Refrigerate till firm. Then top that with a mixture of cream cheese whipped with peanut butter, vanilla and confectioners sugar.

      4 Replies
      1. re: sbp

        just be aware that 1 in 30 could have a peanut allergy

        1. re: Cynsa

          True - the top layer could be anything. Coconut frosting, maybe

          1. re: sbp

            Or coffee whipped cream (stablilize it with some softened gelatin)

        2. I second the sheet pan suggestions.

          You could also make Nigella Lawson's Brownies, her recipe makes a huge amount.
          You could also make blondies and top them with ganache [Smitten kitchen has a peanut butter ganache blondie recipe].

          Anyway, for sheet size bar cookies, you could try looking in Magnolia Bakery Cookbook- I have not made any of the bars yet because the recipes are for a sheet pan and it doesn't fit in my oven, but there are many options there.

          Good luck!

          1. Tres Leche cake, served in plastic cups. I've baked this and transported it in the plastic cups to serve at a large group picnic. Serve with frozen berries.

            When you say 'celebratory' - is this a centerpiece to display? then, decorate the sheet cake with fresh flowers

            Is a 'dessert buffet' too much work to transport and set up?

            Arrange pretty boxes filled with an assortment of candies/nuts/sweets/chocolates/dried fruit/tiny cookies.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cynsa

              You can easily do a tres-leches sheet cake, and just have either 'cups' or rimmed disposable plates for service. When I make one, if I moisten the layers properly, it is very moist, but not falling apart runny, and can certainly be cut like any other cake into squares.

              For those who have not had this - it is a wonderful and DELICIOUS cake!!!!!

            2. I know this isn't very "foodie" per se (without some doctoring) but I immediately thought of cup cakes. Everyone likes an "individual" cake (even high school - if this is HS graduation) and I think they are more celebratory in theory than a slice from a sheet cake . . . just my opinion on that one.

              There is so much you can do too with school color frosting (swirled/more decorative/paper one color, frosting the other color/etc), making/buying "2013" decorations for each cup cake . . . and you can always up the flavors to make them fancy.

              And I'm not sure they are that much more work than a sheet cake . . .

                1. Brownie tarts! Tart shells with brownie inside.

                  1. My son is graduating next month too. I am making a huge pan of Dirt, his request not mine. You can do it in individual cups if you dont want any dishes to wash. i am making homemade pudding then layering on crumbled chocolate wafers and found some really cute gummy worms & frogs.

                    1. Chocolate Pot de Creme in plastic cups. You could bring along whipped cream and nuts etc. to personalize.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: monavano

                        lots of cans of whipped cream.... lots of fun!

                        1. re: wyogal

                          Love the canned whipped cream. Real is best, of course, but the can is fun for people to top the dessert themselves.

                      2. Thanks for all the suggestions, keep them coming. My oven will not handle a sheet pan, but I can use a couple of 1/2 sheets, that might do. Its for a college graduation.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: docfood

                          A texas sheet cake--you can do it in two half sheet pans. Or, bake it in cupcake liners the same color as the college colors. So many ways to decorate it.

                        2. If you make a great carrot cake go for it! A friend whose Mom taught him to make a great carrot cake used to wow our church meals with his large iced carrot cakes. We would also offer a chocolate something but the carrot cake was the star.

                          1. I'm a fan of Bundt cakes, so suggest that you make 3 of those to feed 30. One carrot cake, one chocolate, one lemon. The shapes make it look like you worked harder than you actually do.

                            You might also think about pound cakes baked in Bundt pans, served with strawberries (readily available here in MN) & canned whipped cream. Advantage is that allows those with allergies gluten, dairy, etc. to still have a treat without making a fuss.

                            1. I'd go with cheesecake pops. You can dip them in chocolate and decorate them all sorts of ways, and even top each one with a "graduation cap" made out of chocolate. they're gluten-free which is great if some of the students are intolerant or have celiac, and peanut-free as long as you don't add peanuts.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                And they could be frozen, too, to make the transport easier. Or do both cream cheese pops and carrot cake pops so people could mix if they want and double the decadence!

                              2. Thanks chowers for the suggestions, I went ahead with the carrot cake and it was well received. I had one colleague ask me to make it for her to eat on her death bed so it would be the last think she ever tasted. Now that is likely good.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: docfood

                                  Have to say "I told you so". Can't beat a good homemade carrot cake!

                                2. A poke cake, a Texas sheet cake.

                                  1. Cupcakes wrapped in a clear plastic cup & clear wrapping, tied with ribbon.
                                    I included a picture.
                                    Don't forget gluten free cupcakes!

                                    1. Your problem will be not so much the baking or making of a dessert but the transport. I regularly bake for a church feeding program and find that the aluminum foil cake pans with rigid plastic tops are what makes it all possible because they can be stacked in the refrigerator, a cardboard box, a shopping cart, or wherever. Each pan is 9 x 13 and cuts into 12 portions. I get them at the Dollar Tree stores and if they aren't in the store they are on the website---you don't pay shipping if you pick them up at a Dollar Tree store (they come in a box of a dozen @ $1 per pan with lid). Once that is arranged, the sky's the limit as you can do any kind of cake, any variety of baked pudding, strawberry shortcake, etc.

                                      Another possibility for your 30 fancy desserts: Make 30 meringue shells. On site, fill them with fruit (sliced strawberries are easy and cheap now) and top with whipped topping. Meringues always seem fancy.