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Catering a Dessert Reception --


RuthWells
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I'm doing the baking for a fundraising reception/silent auction this fall. The event will be about 2 hours long, and there won't be any other diversion beside the silent auction. Refreshments will be wines and dessert. I'm planning to do mostly, if not all, single-to-two-bite miniatures. How many should I plan per attendee?

TIA.

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All of my Jewish ancestors and sitting on my shoulder shouting, "Really, is that all?  That won't be enough!"

I'm really doing miniatures -- small cookies, mini-cupcakes -- so I was thinking more like 6 per person.  Am I nuts?

Yes, but that has nothing to do with food. LOL. Anyway, I think 6 per person sounds right.

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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I'm with the ancestors :wink:

Are these being passed or are they a stationary display? Or a little of both? Depending on how easy it is to get the desserts, that could make a big difference in how much gets eaten. Is this at night or a brunch?

I'd go with 6 pieces per person too.

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Agree with 6, I went to a similar event last year and that was the number. Also suggest that the last one should be not too sweet and not too heavy (if you are serving them in succession) since we were on sugar overload at the end.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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I do alot of charity events and to my pleasure the event coordinators say that I'm the big draw, attendees always ask if Sweet Karma is going to be there. I usually go overboard with the amount I bring. People tend to act like they've never seen food before at these events, we even have to limit the amount per person to approx 3 so that everyone gets to try us. Definetly bring more than you think you should. Make a statement, if you are out of food then people have nothing to remember you by. A business card is great, but it doesnt evoke the same memory as one of your desserts. Email me as I can give you a few money saving and easy production ideas. brian@sweetkarmadesserts.com

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Thank you ALL for the suggestions and feedback. Nothing will be passed; it will all be buffet/stationary and it's an early evening event. I'll shoot for 6 per person (of course, an accurate headcount is going to be hard to come by...).

Bri, watch your email, and thank you so much for the offer!

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I'm laughing as I'm reading this because we must have the same Jewish ancestors. I'm not a pro but did all the baking for the dessert bar for my kids Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

No, I didn't think about # of pieces per person as a pro would. However, it's always been my experience that people will take small amounts of a full cake or pie or something that has to be cut and eaten with a fork or spoon. But, if you can pick it up and eat it with your hands, they'll just keep eating and eating. I also found that, for desserts of this type, there are 2 kinds of people. There are those who liked the fruit desserts and gobbled up the raspberry bars, apricot tea cakes, lemon layer cake bars, etc. Then there was another group who went for the chocolate chip cookies, coffee blondies, brownie bites, toffee cookies, etc. And they don't seem to do a lot of overlapping. I think there was some overlap with the cheesecake bars and almond macaroons but, after 3 years I don't remember it all.

(If you're really interested, I had a whole thread running here a little over 3 years ago for my daughters Bat M where I solicited a ton of advice, shared my questions and prep, and culminating with pics of the whole thing. It was fun.)

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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i would limit yourself to 4 varieties...one chocolate, one red/berry/fruity, one citrus, and one nut (like coconut).

i usually do a mix of labor intensive and not so labor intensive tartlets (which are more work because of all the rolling) and big sheets that I slice and garnish

plan your labor time carefully as minis can be real time suckers...every time you move the desserts takes time...for example from sheet tray to box...if you can garnish in the box or on the platter, it will save tons of time. i budget about 1 hour per sheet for the cutting/garnishing part of the job.

Stephanie Crocker

Sugar Bakery + Cafe

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(If you're really interested, I had a whole thread running here a little over 3 years ago for my daughters Bat M where I solicited a ton of advice, shared my questions and prep, and culminating with pics of the whole thing.  It was fun.)

I remember this project of yours, and will definitely seek out the thread for inspiration! I'm only expecting 50-75 people, so I think the numbers are going to be manageable.... I hope....

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i would limit yourself to 4 varieties...one chocolate, one red/berry/fruity, one citrus, and one nut (like coconut).

i usually do a mix of labor intensive and not so labor intensive tartlets (which are more work because of all the rolling) and big sheets that I slice and garnish

plan your labor time carefully as minis can be real time suckers...every time you move the desserts takes time...for example from sheet tray to box...if you can garnish in the box or on the platter, it will save tons of time. i budget about 1 hour per sheet for the cutting/garnishing part of the job.

I'm definitely thinking in terms of less labor-intensive (no pastry or tartlets) and things that have components that can be done ahead and held or frozen (like buttercreams).

Limiting myself to 4 varieties is going to be hard (psychologically). My current list has about 9-10 options on it. Want to help me pare it down? ; )

I'm currently thinking:

- pistachio petit fours (genoise w/pistachio buttercream, from Flo Braker)

- s'mores squares (cakey squares, again from Flo Braker -- crumb crust, chocolate, mini-marshmellow)

- mini lemon angel cakes (either baked and served in mini nut cups, or mini muffin tins)

- mini vacherins (from Gale Gand -- French meringue, dollop of cream, raspberry)

- chocolate chip swirl cookies (from Flo Braker)

- acorn cookies (small shaped butter cookies from Flo Braker, hazelnut & cinnamon)

- cheese straws

- caramel corn in paper cones

- chocolate mousse in mini-cups (I'm iffy on this one)

Thank you all for the thoughts and ideas!

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You've got sugarseattle's four suggestions if you just make the first four so I'd go with that.

- pistachio petit fours (genoise w/pistachio buttercream, from Flo Braker)

- s'mores squares (cakey squares, again from Flo Braker -- crumb crust, chocolate, mini-marshmellow)

- mini lemon angel cakes (either baked and served in mini nut cups, or mini muffin tins)

- mini vacherins (from Gale Gand -- French meringue, dollop of cream, raspberry)

I'm familiar with a few of the ones you've mentioned. I love the pistachio petit four and the raspberry vacherins. They add colour and neat textures. And brownies of some type are always a winner. I haven't made mini angel cakes. By this do you mean angel food cake or a type of cookie? For citrus my go-to mini is lemon tarts with PH's Lemon Cream. You can have the tart shells and cream ready and even frozen if you want. Not too long before serving, dust all the shells with icing sugar so the exposed rims are white and then pipe them full. Easy, delicious and nice to look at.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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I haven't made mini angel cakes. By this do you mean angel food cake or a type of cookie? For citrus my go-to mini is lemon tarts with PH's Lemon Cream. You can have the tart shells and cream ready and even frozen if you want. Not too long before serving, dust all the shells with icing sugar so the exposed rims are white and then pipe them full. Easy, delicious and nice to look at.

The mini angel cakes are indeed mini angel food cakes, not cookies. I have a huuuuuuge surplus of egg whites in freezer (about 3 doz, god help me) that I'd like to use up. But the idea of making tartlet shells ahead and freezing has its appeal, as well. I adore a lemon tart. Yum.......

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I remember this project of yours, and will definitely seek out the thread for inspiration!  I'm only expecting 50-75 people, so I think the numbers are going to be manageable.... I hope....

Holy cow. The former Bat M girl is now 16!! (Do you hear the strains of Sunrise, Sunset swelling in the background?) Anyway, Ruth, I for one at least want to see pictures of your work when it's all done.

- pistachio petit fours (genoise w/pistachio buttercream, from Flo Braker)

- s'mores squares (cakey squares, again from Flo Braker -- crumb crust, chocolate, mini-marshmellow)

- mini lemon angel cakes (either baked and served in mini nut cups, or mini muffin tins)

- mini vacherins (from Gale Gand -- French meringue, dollop of cream, raspberry)

- chocolate chip swirl cookies (from Flo Braker)

- acorn cookies (small shaped butter cookies from Flo Braker, hazelnut & cinnamon)

- cheese straws

- caramel corn in paper cones

- chocolate mousse in mini-cups (I'm iffy on this one)

No help here as I am also psychologically challenged on limiting myself. However, whatever you can prepare ahead is helpful. I remember making and freezing dough for baking later. Also brownies and bars already baked. I wrapped these many times over and froze, then defrosted fully wrapped and cut.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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I have done a lot of these events as a catering manager and definitely agree that you want to hit all the flavor profiles, but I think six selections are better than four. Also considerif some of the items, like the vacherins maybe considered "lighter" or more popular than others and thus get hit harder.

Another consideration is the size of the serving plates. People will fill up the size plate that you give them, so if you have control of that, smaller is better. Or even just cocktail napkins, if the items aren't too messy or crumbly.

Have you also considered something that can be served in bulk? We used to do a shallow, but large dish of creme brulee or a cream cheese custard with raspberry sauce, both of which could be scooped and served in a small bowl. People who took that also tended to take less of the other things.

One more thing, allow plenty of room for items on the buffet as the more items, the more people will take thier time to pick and choose what they want and will slow the buffet area down. If beverages can beserved at a nother table that is even better.

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I have done a lot of these events as a catering manager and definitely agree that you want to hit all the flavor profiles, but I think six selections are better than four.  Also considerif some of the items, like the vacherins maybe considered "lighter" or more popular than others and thus get hit harder.

Another consideration is the size of the serving plates.  People will fill up the size plate that you give them, so if you have control of that, smaller is better.  Or even just cocktail napkins, if the items aren't too messy or crumbly.

Have you also considered something that can be served in bulk?  We used to do a shallow, but large dish of creme brulee or a cream cheese custard with raspberry sauce, both of which could be scooped and served in a small bowl.  People who took that also tended to take less of the other things.

One more thing, allow plenty of room for items on the buffet as the more items, the more people will take thier time to pick and choose what they want and will slow the buffet area down.  If beverages can beserved at a nother table that is even better.

Wonderful suggestions, Liz! I'm trying to keep the guests' hands free so that they can sign up for the silent auction items <g>, so I was thinking cocktail napkins only. And definitely, beverages at a separate station. It's a small venue, so we're trying to maximize traffic flow.

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New working list:

- pistachio petit fours

- s'mores squares with rosettes of Italian meringue instead of marshmallow as garnish (for Marcia, who doesn't care for marshmallows!)

- lemon tartlets (maybe garnished with diced candied ginger?)

- rasberry vacherins

- chocolate chip swirl cookies

- autumn acorn cookies

- cheddar pecan mini-gougerges

- herbed Tuck's crackers

Wine, (non-alcoholic) punch, water.

I think this balance works -- texturally, we've got creamy, cakey, meringue-y, flakey, and crunchy. Flavorwise, I've got 2 chocolatey, 2 fruity, 3 nutty, 1 cinnamon/spicey, and 2 savory. Much of this list can be done ahead and frozen, either complete or as components.

What think you all?

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I'm with the ancestors  :wink:

Are these being passed or are they a stationary display?  Or a little of both?  Depending on how easy it is to get the desserts, that could make a big difference in how much gets eaten.  Is this at night or a brunch?

I'd go with 6 pieces per person too.

I have the same Jewish ancestors so I'll agree. I always make more as I'd rather have too much than too little. 6 sounds right!!

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I'm laughing as I'm reading this because we must have the same Jewish ancestors.  I'm not a pro but did all the baking for the dessert bar for my kids Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. 

No, I didn't think about # of pieces per person as a pro would.  However, it's always been my experience that people will take small amounts of a full cake or pie or something that has to be cut and eaten with a fork or spoon.  But, if you can pick it up and eat it with your hands, they'll just keep eating and eating.  I also found that, for desserts of this type, there are 2 kinds of people.  There are those who liked the fruit desserts and gobbled up the raspberry bars, apricot tea cakes, lemon layer cake bars, etc.  Then there was another group who went for the chocolate chip cookies, coffee blondies, brownie bites, toffee cookies, etc.  And they don't seem to do a lot of overlapping.  I think there was some overlap with the cheesecake bars and almond macaroons but, after 3 years I don't remember it all.

(If you're really interested, I had a whole thread running here a little over 3 years ago for my daughters Bat M where I solicited a ton of advice, shared my questions and prep, and culminating with pics of the whole thing.  It was fun.)

I remember that thread and your event. You did a great job!!

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New working list:

- pistachio petit fours

- s'mores squares with rosettes of Italian meringue instead of marshmallow as garnish (for Marcia, who doesn't care for marshmallows!)

- lemon tartlets (maybe garnished with diced candied ginger?)

- rasberry vacherins

- chocolate chip swirl cookies

- autumn acorn cookies

- cheddar pecan mini-gougerges

- herbed Tuck's crackers

Wine, (non-alcoholic) punch, water.

I think this balance works -- texturally, we've got creamy, cakey, meringue-y, flakey, and crunchy. Flavorwise, I've got 2 chocolatey, 2 fruity, 3 nutty, 1 cinnamon/spicey, and 2 savory.  Much of this list can be done ahead and frozen, either complete or as components.

What think you all?

Sounds like a great mix...now I'm hungry! <wanders off in search of a snack...>

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