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Simple Desserts For a Crowd


rebgold
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I recently took on a side gig cooking a congregational dinner for a church once a week. It's about 50 ppl and needs to be fairly simple. It's been a long time since I've done this type of thing and need some dessert recipes done in full hotel pans. Anyone got anything tried and tested they really like?

Reb

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Check out this thread started by CaliPoutine a few years ago when she had a contract cooking about 50 ppl.

Also, I have been cooking a weekly community meal for 100+ people for the last four years.

Most popular desserts have been: fruit cobblers and crisps, deep dish fruit pies, fruit/yogurt parfaits, fruit salad.

Feel free to PM me for details, including costing. In the meantime, I will try to articulate some of my own recipes. Give me a couple of days :)

Karen Dar Woon

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Fifty people? Crème brûlée. Simple beyond belief. Make ahead and fire it off with gusto with a blowtorch in front of an ooh-ing and ahh-ing crowd. I like Bananas Foster as well for a "ooh, ahh, yum" crowd-pleasing dessert.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I did the cooking for a crowd for almost 3yrs, so I have *some* knowledge. Do you have any budget constraints? I did, so I used a lot of cake mixes( that I doctored up). I always made homemade frosting though, couldnt stand the canned crap. I also used organic cake mixes which surprisingly were easy to come by in Canada. I actually miss those PC cake mixes. Anyway, I digress. I should look back thru that thread, because I can't remember what else I did. I did do crisps a lot and those were popular. My budget was 3.00 a person and that included juice, roll, meat, starch, veg and dessert. I did it though, but I shopped very carefully and seasonally. I never served an apple dessert in the summer!!

Now that I'm back in Cali, I bake to send things in to my partners workplace. There are way more than 50ppl that work there( She's a police officer). I usually make cookies, bars, brownies or scratch cakes. I LOVE Hershey's Black Magic cake. Its so easy( one bowl) and everyone loves it. It doesnt even need frosting, just throw some chocolate chips into the cake before baking and top with powdered sugar.

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I was going to suggest tiramisu as well, however it is something that you need to refrigerate, so may not be suitable depending on your travel and setup times.

f you're looking for something that is cooked in a hotel pan then the easiest desserts would be puddings and fruit crumbles. Fruit crumbles are incredibly easy to make and if you add muesli / nuts to the crumble then it can not only have texture and flavour but a respectable claim to nutrition as well. As far as puddings go, a sticky date pudding with a caramel sauce is easy and slightly more interesting than a plain chocolate pudding. A caramel sauce is easy and quick to prepare in bulk - melt butter, add soft brown sugar, stir to dissolve and simmer, add cream. Done.

If you're cooking to order and have a hotplate available then pancakes/crepes could be an option- just a suggestion but doesn't sound like it's the right thing for your situation. But a friend of mine had a small pancake business and it was impressive how easily you could pump them out for large numbers, especially as the batters can be premixed before.

For something a bit more alternative you could purchase pre-made canoli (are they tubes or shells?) and then pipe them with fillings on the spot - custard or a sweet ricotta mix. This way they don't go soggy.

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Another thing that comes to mind is fruit suspended in gelatine - two or three colours if you're feeling fancy. This can be made ahead in huge pans and then simply cubed and served with a bit of fresh fruit and whipped cream or ice cream for a lovely dessert.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Almost anything can become a build-it-in-a-pan dessert with a little tweaking. I did a hotel pan version of Pierre Herme's Faubourg Pave once. It didn't have the visual appeal of the original but it made it convenient for a "drop it on the table and everybody dig in" situation while keeping the flavors and textures of the original.

There's the always-popular church dinner classic, the banana pudding. Quick, easy and inexpensive.

A giant hotel pan cheesecake is an option. An expensive option with the dairy prices where I live... but an option.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Panna cotta can work well and is faster than pots de creme/creme brulee, and, if made with milk, cheaper. If you have access to some small, sturdy glasses you can pour into those, chill, and be ready to serve -with maybe a couple of berries as a garnish. One of my favorite flavors is orange/vanilla made by simply infusing vanilla bean and orange peels as I heat the milk/cream mixture.

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One of the pastors is lactose intolerant, and I don't have ramekins or a blow torch for creme brulee or panna cotta. I really don't want to do fancy, restaurant style desserts for the most part. The volunteers said people really want more modern, healthy food. The woman who did it for 15 years was very old school. She pretty much doctored boxed cake mixes every week.

Budget isn't an issue and I cook at the church so I don't have to transport anything.

I was hoping someone had some cake recipes they'd converted to work in hotel pans and have the center cooked without the edges being dried out.

Reb

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So a question you might want to ask, I learned this one the hard way a long time ago: do they want everybody to eat in accordance with the one person's dietary restrictions or do they want you to have an alternative for him/her when making something for the group that he/she can't eat? Seems like a simple thing but I didn't ask that question for an early catering job. They were a bit less than happy that all of the food was made to fit within the guest of honor's restictions. They thought it was understood that I was providing options for said guest of honor. I thought the meal was to be designed around said guest. It was my job to be clear on that. I didn't do my job.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Look up "Lemon Mousse for a Crowd"

Published: May 24, 2006 – New York Times

Served in Martini Glasses with some pomegranate seeds sprinkled in top. You will get a loud round of applause.

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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OK, if you're looking for cakes that do well in hotel pans, I've got a few different ones. The real standout, IMHO, is Death by Chocolate Zucchini Cake, which is always uniformly moist throughout and which has a lovely rich flavour. I'll take a look through my massive catering binder and pull out the best recipes I've got, then Gullet them for you.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Lol, no martini glasses at the church, what with it being a church and all. I have plenty of recipes for mousses and all types of custards from years of doing pastries in restaurants. I'm specifically looking for interesting desserts using average ingredients done mostly in hotel or full sheet pans. I have a million cake recipes for 10"rounds but I'm not willing to go to that kind of effort.

Reb

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Lol, no martini glasses at the church, what with it being a church and all.

Well, then it's obviously not an Episcopal church :laugh::laugh: ! I don't know how a cake would do in a hotel pan. I'm afraid that with a regular oven it would get overdone on the edges and still be soupy in the middle. But you could certainly do a sheet pan and there are plenty of recipes for those. And all of the mousse suggestions would work in a hotel pan, I think. If I'm understanding you, you just don't want to have to deal with a bunch of fiddly individual dishes. You could do one LARGE pan of mousse (or some kind of creamy thing) that could be scooped into smaller dishes by the diners.

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I'd consider some sort of bars. Lemon bars would be my personal first choice, but any of the good cookie-type squares or bars would work. You wouldn't have to keep them warm, like cobbler (which can be served cold or room temp of course, but it's better warm, with ice cream), easy to serve and eat, everybody loves them, and people can take some home if they wish.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Check out this recipe http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/07/10-minute-lime-cracker-pie-recipe.html

and this one: http://www.mrfood.com/Cakes/Chocolate-Eclair-Cake-by-Mr-Food/ml/1

No bake, easy enough to scale up and fairly fast! I don't know if 'whipped topping' has a lactose element or not. HTH!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Tri2Cook makes an excellent point. So many of the easy-to-scale-up desserts have a large dairy component.

trifle

puddings as noted, including pumpkin as we head into autumn

tiramisu

cobblers

crisps

cake

cookies

For healthy dessert, its hard to beat a juicy cobbler.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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  • 5 years later...

I couldn't find a thread covering this, but apologies if there is.

 

As I'm planning the food for a family gathering I realise again that we have a few desserts that we often fall back on. Partly because they are easy to prepare, minimal effort for the cook that is busy producing food to feed 20-30, and don't suffer from sitting on the buffet table. But mainly, because these are the crowd pleasing desserts, the one that are enjoyed by young and old alike. They can be altered and elaborated but in reality everyone would be just as satisfied with the dish in its more simple form, perhaps due to the associated memories.

 

some of our crowd pleasers are pavlova, banoffee pie and triffle.

 

https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/strawberry-pavlova

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/banoffeepie_89031

 

so what about other egulleters, do you have a tradition of easy crowd pleasing desserts?

Edited by Smithy
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For my family, it's lemon icebox pie. I make them two at a time, they need to be made a day in advance, and they take about 40 minutes from start to finish. There may be a simpler dessert, but I'm danged if I know what it is.

 

Lemon Icebox Pie (makes 2 pies)

 

two graham cracker crusts, or your choice of crust

 

3 cans condensed milk

4 eggs

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

 

Beat eggs, then beat in condensed milk and lemon juice until completely incorporated. Divide filling between two pie shells. Bake in 325F oven for 25 minutes. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate. Top with whipped cream to serve.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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This is terrible, and speaks volumes about my family members.   The best dessert, the one they actually FIGHT over...  Snicker Salad.  

 

8-10 Grannie Smith Apples (or some other hard, tart apple)

8 Snicker bars

2-3 Large tubs of Cool Whip

2-3 bags mini marshmallows. 

 

Dice the apples and Snicker bars. Add marshmallows, and mix.  Add in the thawed Cool Whip.  Mix until its combined. Then step back and watch the magic happen. =)  

I don't know if there are British equivalents for all these items, but I'll throw it out there just in case. 

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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This recipe is a little Sandra Lee-ish/Paula Deen-ish but people really enjoy it:

"Next-Best-Thing-To-Robert-Redford Pie"

 

You can, of course, use real whipped cream instead of the fake stuff, as well as make your own puddings if you're so inclined. It's made in a 13x9 pan so it isn't really a pie. It tastes very, very good. I'll either grate some dark chocolate on top or use a veggie peeler to make chocolate curls for topping it. My mom used chocolate jimmies once but fair warning...jimmies bleed brown!

Then my sister-in-law riffed off this same dessert by leaving out the two pudding mixes completely and instead uses a layer of sliced strawberries (when in season) mixed with that ubiquitous strawberry glaze you can find in grocery stores (they usually stock it near the strawberries in the produce section). You can top it off with sliced strawberries to make it look pretty. This strawberry version tastes exactly like the strawberry pie you get at Marie Callender's. It's incredibly good.

My s-i-l also made a peach version using diced up canned peaches and the peach glaze you find in the store when they're in season. It was good but not as tasty as the strawberry version.

Sometimes my mom will make both versions, the original and the strawberry, for potlucks. Needless to say, they go quickly.

 

And because I spoke her name :o I will also mention that Paula Deen's "Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding" is insanely good and is easy to make. Again, you can make your own whipped cream and pudding if you're so inclined. But it's super easy to make and people swoon over it. The one suggestion I would make would be to use something like Fruit Fresh on the bananas before putting them into the dessert. If you don't and there are leftovers, the bananas tend to oxidize and turn color.

 

And now I believe I have to go out into my front yard and swing a chicken over my head three times to prevent Paula Deen from manifesting again. ;) xD

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“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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