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Help me design a dessert bar


JFLinLA
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You would have to dip the lime meltaways in powdered sugar the day before you serve them.

The Mexican Wedding cookie recipe is from the www.williams-sonoma.com website. Search for the cookie in the recipe search. They are similiar to pecan sandies.

BTW - You can make the marshmallows with Ko-jel.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I emailed you the recipes - let me know if you have any questions or if they didn't get there! It was my first time using the eG email function.

I think that the powdered sugar adheres better to the Lime Meltaways if they are still a little warm when dusted w/ powdered sugar(I didn't toss them in a plastic bag like the recipe suggests, because they seemed too fragile and as if they would break if shaken like that).

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I emailed you the recipes - let me know if you have any questions or if they didn't get there!  It was my first time using the eG email function.

I think that the powdered sugar adheres better to the Lime Meltaways if they are still a little warm when dusted w/ powdered sugar(I didn't toss them in a plastic bag like the recipe suggests, because they seemed too fragile and as if they would break if shaken like that).

I also dusted them with powdered sugar. Rebecca is right, I should have explained myself better. I think you should dust them when they are warm and then give them another light sprinkling the day before you serve them.

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Rebecca T -- yes, all recipes received. thanks.

Much to do over the coming weeks testing these out. If y'all don't mind, I'll report back from time to time and ask for additional input.

I'd still like to get some great crunchy biscotti recipes and I'm still searching for an answer to my question about caramel swirl in cheesecake.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Quick note: We'd like people to post recipes in the thread to share with everyone, if that's possible or better yet, provide a link. Thanks.

I don't want to throw you a curve ball, but I would like to suggest to you how a thoughtful presentation can really put the "wow" into your party. There's many inexpensive ways to enhance your sweet table/dessert bar. Since you sound like an experienced baker I think you might enjoy that as another challenge.

I like to take on a theme of some sorts. The theme could be your use of color (Martha Stewarts work has great examples of this), use of risers or pillars, fabrics draped over the table, use of similar serving pieces that tie the presentation together or unusual serving pieces (items like baskets or large vases). For example Mother's day, I might make everything shaped like purses or everything is shaped like a present and served from a present looking tray. A theme can be more obvious, like a country theme or a Mexican theme etc... . Martha's done buffets where every food is one color (like white or pink). Injecting a style or a theme really adds the nicest finishing touch to a buffet.

Then when I begin choosing what I'm making I begin to visualize how I want the table to look. Then I pick which items will be fit that appearance or how I can modify the items look to fit my style. That's how I choose what I'm going to make and it forces me to make new items and rethink familiar items.

Anyway, back to your list of questions:

Yes, Mexican wedding cakes, Russian tea cakes, pecan sandies, snowballs are all the same......sand like cookie with chopped nuts, rolled in xxxsugar while hot. Then freshen with xxxsugar last minute.

You originally said you wanted to do mini pastries or items in small pieces. I think adding a cake takes you off course. If you stay with mini's, bar cookies, cookies you won't need to provide a fork..........almost don't need a plate either, a napkin would do.

Caramel Cheesecake- don't mix the caramel into the cheesecake batter. Instead make it a layer over the crust, then pour over the cheese batter and bake. Swirled it's likely to crack, and if you go lighter on the caramel so it won't crack you'll probably loose the flavor. Or totally mix the caramel into the batter or use brown sugar instead of white in your batter.

I ditto the Payard apricot tea cakes, it's excellent. I make them often.

Biscotti, depends upon your crowd. I've served them to some groups that won't even try them.

Chocolate fountains..........those things are darn expensive to rent. My chef did once when I wasn't there............people really didn't eat a lot of it. Perhaps with children it would be more successful.

You can add mint extract to any chocolate recipe to make it chocolate mint.

Pretzels, buy them and white chocolate coating, assorted toppings mini m & m's, sprinkles/jimmies, chopped up heath bars or any candy bar. You can dip them in Kraft caramels let them cool (or drizzle the caramel over them), then dip them in melted white chocolate coating before the coating sets up sprinkle on various toppings like the chopped toffee.

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Sinclair -- Thanks for all your thoughts. Yes, you've got it exactly right. I want things people can eat without utensils. Remember, probably half of the guests will be kids and many of the adults will act like kids. Yes, I'm skipping the choclolate fountains and fondue as mentioned in my earlier post.

As for display, I sort of can't control that. As the mother of the Bat Mitzvah, I will be quite busy doing other things and I need to rely on my caterer to display the baked goods I will have left in the temple kitchen. He did a nice job for my son's Bar Mitzvah in '02. However, cutting things into interesting shapes, putting them in an attractive paper wrap, or whatever will certainly help.

As for recipes, you are right. We should share them here so Rebecca T and Bloviatrix, please share the recipes here that you have been so kind as to share with me.

Here are some of the recipes I have been talking about in my posts on this thread:

Gale Gand's Lemon Layer Sheet Cake

This also includes a nice photo so you can see how it would work for the dessert bar. My problem with this recipe is that every time I've made it, I've never gotten that punch of lemon that I think it should have. What suggestions do you have? As I mentioned earlier, I was thinking of trying RLB's Mousseline Buttercream with lemon curd. Any thoughts.

Jacques Torres' Bite-Size Chocolate Almond Brownies

Jacques uses flexipan molds. I use mini-muffin tins and, since these will be for a special occasion, I'll use pretty foil liners.

I'll post my coffee blondie recipe and cheesecake square recipe later.

Edited by JFLinLA (log)
So long and thanks for all the fish.
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** 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.

Flan - not the mexican caramel custard - but use a flan pan, sweet dough (or pie crust) then lots of pecans and a filling similar to pecan pie. There is much less filling than in a pecan pie and it is a different consistency... (The filling has brown sugar, butter/margarine, vanilla, eggs).

Marshmallows - Kosher marshmallows contain fish gelatin - I don't know if you can actually buy fish gelatin. (but some homemade marshmallows rolled in toasted coconut would be amazing)

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As for recipes, you are right.  We should share them here

Thank-you, I'm glad you also see the reasoning behind it. We all gain!!

Well if you trust your caterer (which you should) I'm sure it will be lovely! I'm glad to see your not taking on everything, your suppose to enjoy the event too.

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I'm always afraid I'll forget something or make a typo when giving a recipe.

Payard’s Apricot Tea Cakes

Special equipment: 2 mini-muffin tins (1 ounce cups); 36 1-inch paper Petit Four cups

Ingredients

2/3 c (189 grams) almond paste

2 large eggs

13 (about one and a quarter 15 ½ ounce cans) canned apricot halves in syrup, drained

3 tablespoons (27 gr) all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons (57 gr) unsalted butter, melted

In food processor, place almond paste, eggs, and 8 apricot halves. Process until smooth – about 20 seconds. Add flour, salt and process until blended. Add butter and process an additional minute. Pour batter into a measuring cup with a spout. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin tins with paper cup liners (36)

Slice the remaining apricot halves into thin strips (you want 36 strips)

Pour batter into cups leaving 1/8 inch of space. Place apricot slice on top of each.

Bake tea cakes for about 30 -35 minutes. Tops will be golden. Let cool on wire rack.

Store in airtight container, unrefrigerated, for up to a week. If it’s very dry, you can brush the tops with melted apricot jam.

"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

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Sinclair -- Thanks for all your thoughts.  Yes, you've got it exactly right.  I want things people can eat without utensils.  Remember, probably half of the guests will be kids and many of the adults will act like kids.  Yes, I'm skipping the choclolate fountains and fondue as mentioned in my earlier post.

As for display, I sort of can't control that.  As the mother of the Bat Mitzvah, I will be quite busy doing other things and I need to rely on my caterer to display the baked goods I will have left in the temple kitchen.  He did a nice job for my son's Bar Mitzvah in '02.  However, cutting things into interesting shapes, putting them in an attractive paper wrap, or whatever will certainly help.

As for recipes, you are right.  We should share them here so Rebecca T and Bloviatrix, please share the recipes here that you have been so kind as to share with me.

Here are some of the recipes I have been talking about in my posts on this thread:

Gale Gand's Lemon Layer Sheet Cake

This also includes a nice photo so you can see how it would work for the dessert bar.  My problem with this recipe is that every time I've made it, I've never gotten that punch of lemon that I think it should have.  What suggestions do you have? As I mentioned earlier, I was thinking of trying RLB's Mousseline Buttercream with lemon curd.  Any thoughts.

Jacques Torres' Bite-Size Chocolate Almond Brownies

Jacques uses flexipan molds.  I use mini-muffin tins and, since these will be for a special occasion, I'll use pretty foil liners.

I'll post my coffee blondie recipe and cheesecake square recipe later.

in the lemon sheetcake you might try substituting the almond extract for lemon,

more lemon zest also or something bizare like replacing some of the milk with sour mix(barmix)

when i was a little kid I always made orange pound cake with a mix by replacing some of the milk with OJ

T

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We've talked about lemon on another thread and the best recipe ended up having 1/3 cup of lemon zest in it as well as 3/4 cup of lemon juice. You might just add a lot more zest to your recipe and see if you can punch it up.

Josette

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Thanks again to everyone. I'll have lots of testing to do in the coming weeks. Blov -- That recipe looks amazing but, as I've said elsewhere, I'm a sucker for anyting with almond paste.

Regarding the G. Gand lemon layer sheet cake recipe -- I found the flavor lacking in the buttercream as well. Now, I never get much call to make buttercream and I view this as a good opportunity to get some practice. So, I'm also asking about that part of the recipe. What do you all think about RLB's Mousseline Buttercream where, to get lemon, she adds in up to 3/4 cup of lemon curd?

Now, as promised, here are 2 more of the recipes in my repertoire:

Cheesecake Bars

1 cup flour

1 cup pecan finely chopped

1/2 cup butter softened

1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed.

24 oz. softened cream cheese

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 eggs

Use an 8" or 9" square pan with a removable bottom. Or, line the pan with foil with enough to hang over the sides to use to help lift out. Spray with non-stick spray.

Mix first four ingredients together well and press into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 for 15-16 minutes or until light golden brown. Let. cool. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till well blended then add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down as necessary. Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes or till center is set. Place pan on wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover and transfer to refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. At this point you can remove from pan and cut into bars and serve. Or, I like to freeze for later. You get a cleaner slice if you cut while still partly frozen.

For chocolate marble remove 1 cup of the batter and combine with 2 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate. Put plain batter in the pan, then spoon chocolate batter on top and swirl together with a butter knife to get a marble effect.

For lemon -- Add zest of 1 lemon to white sugar and swirl in a mini chopper until zest is fully combined and add sugar as per recipe. Also add 1/2 teaspoon or more lemon extract to the batter.

This is the one I'd like to make caramel.

Coffee Blond Brownies

This is my long standing adaptation of a recipe in one of the old Silver Palate books. It's in the eGRA.

1 pound dark or light brown sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon strong espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

4 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 cups AP flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup Kahlua more or less

(nuts are optional but I'd add more chocolate chips if you leave them out)

My pan is about 13x8" but you can vary the size a little here as long as you're close. Butter the pan, line with parchement and butter that and then flour everything. (Okay, I'm somewhat compulsive about things not sticking.)

Melt brown sugar and butter together until butter melts. Remove from heat, stir in coffee/espresso and allow to cool to room temperature. (It really doesn't need to cool all the way down. You just don't want to cook your eggs.) Once that's cool, using a mixer, beat in the eggs and vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients together and mix into the butter mixture just until combined. Stir in the nuts and chocolate. Spread mixture evenly in the pan and place in a 350 oven. Bake 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out mostly clean. Do not over bake. Have the Kahlua ready. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, using a pastry brush, brust the Kahlua over the top of the blondies. Allow to cool in the pan. Then remove entirely from the pan before slicing and serving. This also freezes extremely well whole and slice more cleanly when still slightly chilled.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Coffee Blond Brownies

This is my long standing adaptation of a recipe in one of the old Silver Palate books.  It's in the eGRA.

1 pound dark or light brown sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon strong espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

4 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 cups AP flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup Kahlua more or less

(nuts are optional but I'd add more chocolate chips if you leave them out)

My pan is about 13x8" but you can vary the size a little here as long as you're close.  Butter the pan, line with parchement and butter that and then flour everything.  (Okay, I'm somewhat compulsive about things not sticking.)

Melt brown sugar and butter together until butter melts.  Remove from heat, stir in coffee/espresso and allow to cool to room temperature.  (It really doesn't need to cool all the way down.  You just don't want to cook your eggs.)  Once that's cool, using a mixer, beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Sift the dry ingredients together and mix into the butter mixture just until combined.  Stir in the nuts and chocolate.  Spread mixture evenly  in the pan and place in a 350 oven.  Bake 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out mostly clean.  Do not over bake.  Have the Kahlua ready.  As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, using a pastry brush, brust the Kahlua over the top of the blondies.  Allow to cool in the pan.  Then remove entirely from the pan before slicing and serving.  This also freezes extremely well whole and slice more cleanly when still slightly chilled.

Is it possible to make this without the kahlua?

EDIT: I see now that it's a sort of glaze- can you think of anything to substitute for that?

Edited by I82Much (log)
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I didn't realize the protocol for recipes! Here you go!

I should add (and I mentioned this in my email to the thread starter) that I realized, when looking in my files for recipes, that the Rasberry Macadamia Bars were actuallyCranberry Macadamia Bars. They're still wonderful, though. Easy to overbake, though, and if they overbake they get very hard, so that's something to watch for. Also, when I made the recipe, I doubled the topping but only increased the crust by 1/2, and that was the perfect ratio IMHO. They are originally from BHG, some Christmas supplement, and the recipe was given to me by a friend.

Cranberry-Macadamia Bars

Recipe By : Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies 2002, pg. 76

Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00

Categories : Cookies/Brownies

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 1/4 c All-purpose flour

3/4 c Sugar

1/2 c Butter

1 c Finely chopped macadamias --hazelnuts or pecans

1 1/4 c Sugar

2 Beaten eggs

2 tb Milk

1 t Finely shredded orange peel

1 t Vanilla

1 c Finely chopped cranberries

1/2 c Coconut

Crust: In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour and 3/4 c sugar.

Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/2 c

of the nuts. Press the flour mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased

13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 F oven for 10-15 minutes or

until crust is light brown around edges.

Topping: Combine the 1 1/4 c sugar, eggs, milk, orange peel, and

vanilla. Beat until combined. Pour over the hot crust. Sprinkle

with the remaining nuts, cranberries, and coconut.

Bake in the 350 F oven for 30 minutes more or until golden. Cool

slightly in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars while still warm. Cool completely.

Note: Store in fridge for 3 days or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Here's the other recipe, for Creme de Menthe Squares. They're fabulous. I don't know the original source, I also got this recipe from a friend and she didn't mention where she got it.

Creme de Menthe Squares

1 1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa

3 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar (I never sift)

1 beaten egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/3 c. green creme de menthe

1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Bottom Layer: Combine 1/2 c. butter and cocoa. Heat and stir until blended. Remove from heat; add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir in graham cracker crumbs. Mix well. Press into ungreased 13x9x2" baking dish

Middle Layer: Melt another 1/2 cup butter. In small mixer bowl, combine melted butter and creme de menthe. At low speed, beat in remaining 3 c. powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over chocolate graham layer. Chill 1 hour.

Top Layer: In small suace pan, combine remaining 1/4 c. butter and chocolare chips. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Spread over mint layer. (Work quickly, or the chocolate will cool and be difficult to spread.)

Chill 1 to 2 hours. Cut in small squares (let them sit on the counter for 1/2 hour or so to make cutting easier.) Store in fridge.

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I didn't realize the protocol for recipes!

I hope your not offended? I know it's confusing because every web site seems to have their own policies. So long as you don't post the recipes instructions, the actual recipe part (quantities and ingredients) won't violate copyrights.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone. I'm checking back in after my first round of experiments based on your input here.

The Lime Melt-aways are a hit! Here's my only comment. I didn't really realize how small they were. Next time out, I'm going to try making them just a tad bigger and try using the zest of 3 limes (vs. 2 in the recipe). My daughter also thought whizzing the powdered sugar in the mini-chopper with some lime zest, before dusting the cookies, would be interesting. Not a bad thought for a 12 year old.

The Payard Apricot Tea Cakes were not such a hit. Everyone liked their moistness and the almond flavor that came through. However, they all universally felt that you almost couldn't taste the apricot. I will try again but I'd love your input on these thoughts:

1. Use another brand of canned apricots. The marked I went to only had their own store brand and I'm not sure how much variation there is in apricots canned in syrup.

2. Is there such a thing as apricot extract?

3. Use more apricots, maybe the whole can. Of course this changes the moisture content so I'd really have to play.

4. Rather than canned apricots, use dried ones (more concentrated flavor) and reconstitute by soaking in apricot nectar or apricot brandy. Again, moisture content issues.

Please chime in.

By the way, over the weekend, the Bat Mitzvah girl read through all of this and thinks well of all of you, even if you are a little strange like her mother about baking and stuff.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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It's been awhile since I made the tea cakes but if I remember correctly, the real purpose of the apricot is to add moistness. The almond is the dominant flavor.

My suggestion would be to leave the batter alone but replace the apricot sliver with a piece of dried apricot that had been re-hydrated. That might give you more apricot flavor.

"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

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Thanks for the input. I love the concept of putting the lime peel in with the sugar. It's always the obvious and simple stuff that's great. As for the apricot, I found out that Lorann makes apricot oil flavor so I'll go checking that out.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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I am not sure that this will work, but you could experiment making Apricot Lekvar and adding that to the tea cake recipe. It would definitely be a more intense apricot flavour. I would suggest making it with the sour apricots as opposed to the sweet mediterranean ones. If you do use the mediterranean apricots, then either don't use any sugar or use 1/4-cup to a 1/2-cup of sugar. I only use 1/2-cup of sugar with the sour apricots. We prefer things less sweet here. You could also spice it up with some apricot brandy.

APPRICOT -OR- PRUNE LEKVAR

1 lb. of dried Apricots -OR- pitted dried Prunes

water to just cover

1 cup of sugar

Put the dried fruit in a sauce pan to cover with water and set them on the stove to cook. Do not let all the water evaporate or the lekvar will burn.

Once the fruit is soft, add the sugar and cook until thick. Remove from pot and puree with a food mill or a cuisinart. The puree should be thick, not runny. If it is runny, cook until it is thick.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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This sounds like such a wonderful event for your daughter and family of course - but for you as well in terms of having such a venue for your culinary creations. personally i think little tarts, cookies, truffles etc - anything bit size is perfect - especially when presented in mounds/piles/heaps of sweet goodness. while perusing the lepicerie website i came across their new line of cookies and of course the reciepes arent there but the the Italian Kiss and Decedence cookies sound amazing - the hazelnut particularly - either in the flour form, crushed nuts, or that wonderful nutella. best of luck - im trying to work out the Italian kiss backwards - i'll let you know :biggrin:

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