Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Help me design a dessert bar


JFLinLA
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've been planning this post for months in my head and now it's time. In June we will celebrate my daughter's Bat Mitzvah. Three years ago, at my son's Bar Mitzvah, I "accidentally" backed into making everything for the dessert bar. Now, with some forethought and planning, I want to do the same thing for my daughter.

Let's be clear. As lovely as many people think this is, it's also at least in part me being selfish. As a non-pro and home baker, I don't often get the opportunity to do this sort of thing and this is a chance for me to try some new things.

Here are some of the important things to know:

1. We don't keep kosher so real butter and other dairy products are fine (even if we haven't nailed down the final menu yet).

2. I will be baking everything for both the Friday night "oneg" (refreshments after the Friday service), as well as for her Saturday night party. There can be some overlap in the goodies as only the closest family will likely be at both.

3. The more I can make ahead and freeze, or partially make-ahead and finish up closer to the actual time, the better. I do have a regular job and need to work around that. Though I will be taking the week off prior to the actual event.

4. In addition to these items, I will also be making 2 large challahs for the Saturday night party and torah-shaped cookies decorated with royal icing as party favors.

5. Pretty much everything needs to be done by Wednesday. Thursday morning I will make the challah dough and refrigerate for baking on Friday. Thursday afternoon is rehearsal. Friday morning, my mom, aunt and a few friends will descend on the temple kitchen where I will braid and bake the challah, we will arrange the goodies for that night, and leave the rest of the stuff for the caterer for Saturday.

6. Any advice on storing things and preserving taste and texture would also be appreciated.

7. I want to do bite-size things that people can pick up with their hands.

My plan is to try out new recipes over the next few months and then, as soon as Passover finishes, I will start getting things ready. I have family and friends clearing freezer space for me as we speak.

Here's an idea of what I did last time:

Bars were made ahead, wrapped in multiple layers and frozen whole. Defrosted Thursday night and cut Friday morning. These included chocolate brownies with white chocolate chunks, coffee blondies with kahlua and chocolate chips, & raspberry bars.

Drop cookie dough was made ahead, scooped and frozen and then baked a few days ahead. These were chocolate chunk cookies and toffee chip cookies. There was another crispy type wafer where the dough was frozen as a block then sliced and baked a few days ahead.

Almond macaroons were made a few days ahead.

Bite-size almond brownies (J. Torres recipe) made a few days ahead.

Lemon-layer sheet cake (G. Gand recipe) -- cake made one day, butter cream the next and then refrigerated. Cut into petit-four sizes and put in pretty paper Friday morning and then back in the fridge for the caterer on Saturday.

There were probably one or two more things but I really don't remember. I think you get the idea. Further, I know that everyone loves the cookies and bars and they are good but I really want to try and do a few things that are different.

Oh, two more things -- there will be an ice cream sundae bar and a cappucino cart (I probably should make one or two kinds of biscotti.)

Anyway, I'm pretty fearless in the kitchen and willing to try almost anything. I have taken a variety of classes over the years. Please pass along your thoughts.

Thanks so much.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I happen to be of the opinion that miniature tart shells filled with lemon curd, are to die for. Tart shells could be made a couple of days ahead and stored in airtight containers; lemon curd could be made ahead; fill the tarts by loading the lemon curd into a pastry bag, or even into a heavy-duty ziploc bag (cut a corner off after loading) and quickly pipe into the shells. You could serve as is, or garnish with whipped cream.

I'll continue to give it more thought. Desserts are my favorite thing to think about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

baba's are wonderful, a very special treat, easy, and can be made a day ahead, soaked, and glazed with apricot jam.

I make a variation of Nick Malgiery's brownies. Best quality chocolate, always, and espresso powder. Once added too much espresso powder, realized mistake, so I added some lemon zest. I had martriage proposals!

Have fun!

Aidan

it is going to be a huge amount of work, but it will be a lot of fun.

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ooh, I love lemon curd.  I'd have to fill Friday morning at the absolute latest.  Wouldn't they be soggy by Saturday night?

You'll be baking the tart shells ahead... I would think they'd be fine if you do an egg white wash on each one. They might be slightly soggier than if they'd been done immediately before, but I don't think it'll be a problem. You could try it ahead... it would be a good excuse to eat (a lot of) lemon curd! :laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you coat the inside of your tarts with chocolate that helps them retain their crispness. White chocolate would work with lemon curd.

I'm a little brain dead right this second, but the first thing that came to my mind was decadent dipped pretzels. Like coated with caramel, chocolate, candy bits then put into bags tied with ribbon.

I also think people like candies as much as they like mini pastries. They just want a little nibble of something sweet. Maybe some fudge, bark, coated nuts, toffee, etc... All of which can be made well in advance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've also developed a fondness, lately, for chocolate with "stuff" added... such as chile powder and cinnamon. I once had some to which Earl Grey tea had been added, and it was wonderful, but I've been unable to find it lately. A cruise through various high-end chocolate websites would give you ideas for pairings. Might be fun to have something like this on hand. I've made truffles before, and they're not difficult. The recipe I used had to be refrigerated until just before serving, which may or may not work for you.

If the lemon curd tart thing works, think about other fillings, also.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You guys and eG are the best! Keep the ideas coming. In addition, please provide recipes or let me know where I can find them. I've got most of the books. For instance -- which Nick M brownies were great . . . or should I turn to Baking with Julia for babas . . . or pretzels, hmm, that's a concept I hadn't thought of . . . or truffles -- where is that caramel truffle recipe from that class I took?

I'm already planning my baking experiments now!!

So long and thanks for all the fish.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations in advance to your daughter :)...

I love doing cupcake sized NY style Cheesecakes. You can bake them ahead, put in tupperware/rubbermaid and freeze them until needed.

They hold up well, thaw quickly and can be topped with anything from just sour cream, or whipped cream (plain or flavored), or my favorite- a wild blackberry sauce with a cornstarch base, just a small spoonful;).

I mostly use a graham cracker crust, but you could do a ground nut crust or any number of variations of crumbled cookie crust.

The topping/glaze should only be applied after thawing and a day at most before service, as it gets gummy. (Glaze doesn't freeze well either).

You could vary the flavor of the cheesecakes too, with the addition of chocolate, liquor or some berries?

Good Luck! And Happy Baking!

Paula

"...It is said that without the culinary arts, the crudeness of reality would be unbearable..." Leopold

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I happen to be of the opinion that miniature tart shells filled with lemon curd, are to die for.  Tart shells could be made a couple of days ahead and stored in airtight containers; lemon curd could be made ahead; fill the tarts by loading the lemon curd into a pastry bag, or even into a heavy-duty ziploc bag (cut a corner off after loading) and quickly pipe into the shells.  You could serve as is, or garnish with whipped cream.

I'll continue to give it more thought.  Desserts are my favorite thing to think about.

You can also make mini tarts filled with chocolate ganache. You can infuse the ganache with different flavorings. After all, everyone loves chocolate.

In Baking with Julia there's a recipe for a mocha chip cookie with diced apricots. I've done the recipe as a bar cookie and it's always been a hit.

And, if you have Payard's book, he has a recipe for apricot tea cakes (I can scan the recipe and email it if you want). They're quite sophisticated "cupcakes" that are simple to make. I've done them in advance and frozen them and they keep their moisture.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh lord so much to say, I hope I can remember it all

I love to infuse ganache with verbena by the way, gives a subtle aroma and most people can't place it.

mini tartlets, ah yes a wonderful selectiojn. First lemon curd to me is a little powerful, i usually fold a little whipped cream in. You could also make caramel pecan tartlets. Not hard, just bring whatever caramel recipe you find to the softball stage, stir in some toasted chopped pecans and fill your shells.

I also love to do variations of pirrouettes and florenties. You could easily make cones and fill them with anything from chantilly cream, ganache, bavarian cream, mousse, etc.

I also like to make warm ganache or fudge platters but putting an assortment of different and interesting cookie and crisp variations with a bowl of chocolate so that people can dip there own.

I don't hear this alot on egullet but one of my favorite things to play with is pate de fruit. You could a number of these pleasures in any kind of mold or cut style and the would be nice for people to eat.

breakfast pastries could go quite easily to, such as scones.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about marshmallows?? Check out the marshmallow thread. Nightscotsman offers an excellent recipe that you can make in any number of flavours. I do half a recipe in an 8x8 cake pan to get about 25 squares. They keep a long time just airtight at room temp.

One thing I've noticed people here suggest for a successful buffet is variety not only in flavours but also textures. It's not something I'd thought of before but it makes sense.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Help me design a dessert bar, Challenge me, please.

Wull, these are soooo easy and sooo impressive especially for a party for a girl,

swans and cameo cookies.

Wull, I tried to plant a picture here - but anyhow the link should work. Check out the captions & pictures starting in the second row continuing into the third row. The captions give you most instructions. Choux pastry is very easy. Get any recipe.

:biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What timing! We're catering a bar-mitzvah this weekend and have been in and out of a synagogue for the last two weeks prepping for it. (Due to varying levels of kashrut.) First, most things freeze. So you can make a lot ahead.

Are you having a group of kids there? Today I made cupcakes - chocolate and vanilla, but you can have fun here. I made one icing - vanilla buttercream - then used some dye to make the icing match the party 'colours' (blue, yellow and orange). I also did a bunch of chocolate suckers - the easiest thing around, but people are impressed by it and the kids really enjoy them.

Last week I made rumballs - and truffles. Frozen in one layer then placed in foil pans, layers of parchment or wax paper between layers of dessert. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer.

The tart idea is great - you can go crazy with that. Take a Pecan Flan recipe and bake it in little tart shells. Fill pre-baked shells with either the lemon curd/ whip cream combo or a bavarian cream (lightened with whip cream) and top with an assortment of fresh fruit - do some strawberry, some blueberry, some kiwi... etc. Glaze them all and they'll stay in the fridge for a day or two.

I was also going to suggest choux paste ... but somebody got ahead of me on that. Bake them, cut them in half and dry them out really well. Then when you add the filling and topping, letting them sit in the fridge (or thaw in the fridge after freezing them) they will absorb some of the moisture from the filling and soften up, but won't get soggy because they were dried before hand!

I also suggest some of the traditional: nothings, cinnamon twists, komish, rugalach ... it is a bat mitzvah after all. (and they all freeze well - and are good with cappuccino).

I think that's it. Mazel tov and good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about a chocolate fondue bar? Pound cakes, pretzels, marshmellows,

mini biscotti, coffee flavored shortbread cookies and a variety of fresh fruits for dipping.

The non-fruit items could be made well in advance.

Choux paste items freeze well... mini eclairs, mini cream puffs...also mini

paris brest (pipe out like a small bagel) using choux paste.

Parfait type glasses are nice for mini trifles...

Cakes freeze well. For variety, single layer cakes baked in a 10 inch pan can be made well in advance.

Slice into 12 or 16 portions at the last minute.

Each slice can be garnished and looks nice on a dessert buffet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about a chocolate fondue bar?  Pound cakes, pretzels, marshmellows,

mini biscotti, coffee flavored shortbread cookies and a variety of fresh fruits for dipping. 

Have you seen the chocolate fountain? I know you want to do the baking by yourself, but this thing is pretty amazing. When guests have the option of dipping stuff in chocolate they go nuts! This will be very popular.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also suggest some of the traditional: nothings, cinnamon twists, komish, rugalach ... it is a bat mitzvah after all.  (and they all freeze well - and are good with cappuccino).

What are "nothings"?

A dry cookie - some people call them kichlach (sp?). Few ingredients - flour, a little sugar, eggs, oil - then you beat the heck out of the mixture. Roll the dough in sugar or sesame seeds and bake. I'm assuming they are from Eastern Europe, but don't quote me on it. My grandmother from Poland used to make them - and they are common in these parts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have good recipes for a number of bar-type cookies that freezer extremely well. One is a raspberry-macadamia nut cookie (I cut them into triangles just to give the dessert platter more visual interest), another is a layered chocolate-mint confection involving mint buttercream and chocolate ganache (looks beautiful). I also have a recipe for Lime Meltaways that you freeze before baking, then cut off slices of the thawed dough and bake. Let's see...

How about amaretti for the cappucino bar?

Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies are fantastic, and freeze well.

Pound cake that has been cut into three layers can be spread with lemon curd and raspberry preserves, and then sliced for a pretty presentation.

... if I think of anything else, I'll let you know. Also, just holler if you want any of the recipes I mentioned.

Good luck!

... editing because I see that Michelle posted a link to the same Lime Meltaway recipe I use. Great minds... :wink:

Edited by RebeccaT (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dammit. I just wrote a really long reply with lots of comments and follow-up questions and my computer ate it before it posted. Gotta run now but will try again later tonight or probably tomorrow night.

Keep the great suggestions and ideas coming.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Pam. If you make these (anytime) would you post a photo? I'd love to see them (well I'd rather taste them, but a photo will do).

gallery_25849_641_1106183863.jpg

Here they are! (Only took me 1/2 an hour to figure out how to get the picture on here)

These are otherwise known as: egg kichal, bowties or in another shape, Haman's Ears. This batch was dipped in sugar before being baked, but I usually roll them in sesame seeds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, thank you all. You have given me terrific, terrific ideas and way more options than I will ever be able to use for this event. That said, I have several follow-up comments and questions. So, in no particular order:

** For now (and I reserve the right to change my mind) I am committed to making the following from my standards -- chocolate chip cookies (let's face it, you can't do a kids party without these. I make the AB chewy ones but use great, extra big chips or chunks), J. Torres chocolate almond brownie bites (their ridiculously easy, taste great, look fabulous, include almond paste, and I love almond paste), amaretti, and my coffee blondies with chocolate chips and kahlua glaze.

** I love all the lemon curd ideas but may come back to them. What I'm thinking is to make the lemon layer sheet cake I've made before. It's huge, with each layer made in a half sheet pan with lemon butter cream in between and on top. Then we trim edges and but into pretty bars or squares, place in a pretty wrapper and top with a thin slice of half-lemon. Here's the problem with this recipe -- the G. Gand recipe it's based on never had enough of a lemon zing for my taste. However, in RLB's Cake Bible, her Mousseline Buttercream adds lemon curd if that's the flavor you want. Plus, that buttercream recipe is supposed to hold up longer at room temp. If that gets me to the flavor I want and I can pick up the flavor or the cake, that may be where I want to go. Does anyone have any experience or advice with those RLB recipes?

** Sinclair -- Love the pretzel ideas but need you to give me some more how-to information. As for the bags, that's how I will wrap our party favors -- the decorated torah-shaped cookies.

** Cheesecakes -- Way ahead of you on this one. Rather than cupcake size, I've made before in a square pan, freeze, then cut into bars or squares. I was thinking of doing a caramel swirl cheesecake. What do you all think about that? Also, how would I make my caramel base to ensure it stayed liquid enough to mix into some of the cheesecake batter before swirling into the rest of the batter?

** Blov -- No, the Payard book is one I don't have. Would love to look at the apricot tea cake recipe if you would be so kind.

** Marshmallows -- I love the idea but, while we don't keep kosher and I don't mind serving a dairy dessert after the regular meal, I don't feel right about marshmallows (which contain gelatin) at a Jewish function.

** Pam R -- Pecan Flan? Can you explain more or give a recipe? I love flan and I love pecan but could use some more help.

** Biscotti -- Was already planning to make one or two varieties. I have an orange walnut biscotti that I really like but am looking for other options. What are some or your best?

** Chocolate fountain/fondue -- The fountain is the "in" thing at all the functions this year and I'm sure will have been done to death by June. Besides, in addition to my stuff, and the cappucino cart, we will have a make your own ice cream sundae bar so there will be plenty of opportunities to pour and sprinkle toppings.

** Lime meltaways -- These look phenomenal and I will definitely be giving them a try. One question, if I bake on Tuesday or Wednesday, will the powdered sugar hold up till Saturday? Won't it melt in?

** Mexican Wedding Cookies -- Couldn't get the recipe from the link but there are lots of variations on these around. Besides, I always thought Mexican wedding cookies were the same as Russian tea cakes, were the same as . . .

** Rebecca T -- I like the way you think. I also cut my bars into triangles for prettier presentation. Yes, please send the recipe for your raspberry-macadamia nut cookie. I have a great raspberry bar that I like but I'd love to see this. Also, chocolate mint confection? Please share that as well as I haven't come up with anything mint yet and that would be a nice flavor to add for variety.

Anyway, this weekend I've got to be girl scout mom but, next weekend I'll do my first experiment. Probably the lime meltaways.

Looking forward to getting more information from all of you.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...