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Looking for Inexpensive Dessert Ideas


taylor214
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A couple of months ago, I became the unofficial Pastry Chef for my church. We have a 1,500 sq. foot kitchen with two convection ovens, two large two door refrigerators, one large two door freezer, a walk in fridge and a walk in freezer. Our church has around 7,000 members and there are numerous events held throughout the week where desserts are requested. Last week alone we produced around 1,500 pieces of dessert for a special event taking place over the course of 4 nights. We also have a cafe where lunch and dinner are served and desserts can be purchased.

The primary obstacle I'm facing is that we have an extremely tight budget so I'm looking for some suggestions on low cost recipes that still provide a high perceived value.

Right now, we make lots of cookies and bars. The use of chocolate is almost impossible to swing so we use cocoa powder for our brownie recipe and chocolate toppings are often made using chocolate chips.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Edit: By the way, I don't have any formal training (hoping to go to FPS in January), just doing this because I enjoy it!

Edited by taylor214 (log)
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A couple of months ago, I became the unofficial Pastry Chef for my church.  We have a 1,500 sq. foot kitchen with two convection ovens, two large two door refrigerators, one large two door freezer, a walk in fridge and a walk in freezer.  Our church has around 7,000 members and there are numerous events held throughout the week where desserts are requested.  Last week alone we produced around 1,500 pieces of dessert for a special event taking place over the course of 4 nights.  We also have a cafe where lunch and dinner are served and desserts can be purchased.

The primary obstacle I'm facing is that we have an extremely tight budget so I'm looking for some suggestions on low cost recipes that still provide a high perceived value. 

Right now, we make lots of cookies and bars.  The use of chocolate is almost impossible to swing so we use cocoa powder for our brownie recipe and chocolate toppings are often made using chocolate chips. 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

What sorts of desserts would you like to be making -- more ideas along the lines of cookies and bars, or would you like to do other kinds of individualized dessert, or add cakes and tortes that would be served by the slice?

My initial thoughts are that eggs are cheap -- meringues and their variants, custards, egg-rich cakes, etc. would do well. Subbing cocoa for chocolate is great. Lemons aren't expensive and hold a wealth of possibilities.

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At this point, I'm very open to any suggestions. I'd like to try to branch off from the cookies and bars though. I like individualized desserts more than having to slice cakes/tortes. I love lemons and would love to add more things using that ingredient.

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Just wandered back to my desk from the cafeteria here at work...we have about 2000 employees serviced out of an obviously low budget cafeteria operation. So I wandered back and talked to the manager, who kindly showed me the roster of things they put out on a rotation basis, and believe me, if they didn't sell, they wouldn't bother :smile:

Individual cups (clear plastic drink cups, about 10 oz size, with lids) contain variants of the following:

Pudding - chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch and lemon

Cheesecake cups - Jello cheesecake mix with various flavours - often they use things that have gone a bit stale, like brownies and cookies, as stir ins. Sometimes swirl in fruit, depending on what they have on hand

Jello - sometimes with fruit in it

Mousses - usually strawberry or lemon or chocolate. Probably from a mix.

Also popular:

Muffins

Banana Bread and other loaf type sweets. Zucchini season cometh!

Cupcakes

Cinnamon Buns

Baking Powder Biscuits - ham and cheese, cheese, raisins, varous mix ins for variety.

Pies - instead of individual pies, I would do a big 'sheet pie' and cut it in squares

Sheet cakes of all kinds

Butter Tarts

They also make a thing I call 'church cake' :smile: because it's at every church function I have ever been to. Basically, you make a baking powder biscuit dough, but instead of just milk, you add an egg to it also. Spread that in a pan, top with chopped apples, or plums or whatever fruit you have on hand, then top that with a butter, flour, sugar crumb mix and bake. It's great - very homey and comforting and looks good. You can do a million things with biscuit dough!

Also, I would go out looking for donations. Lots of big companies will donate things, particularly if your cafe and such are geared to feeding the less fortunate.

Best of luck.

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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This takes a bit of time but if you buy a copy of MasterCook 7 you can easily price out recipes and it will help you figure out what's cheapest to make. The time consuming part is getting and entering prices for every item you use.

I don't have many of my own recipes entered but MasateCook has a cookbook for groups of 50 that I'll take a look at later and let you know if they have anything interesting that's cheap.

Cupcakes are pretty cheap and of course you can do a million combinations of cakes and icings. Might be good for the cafe. Using the paper liners and having icing on top helps them to keep quite awhile.

I don't know where you live but if you have access to lots of fruit in season you could make up just plain yellow cake cut into squares, dust with icing sugar and top with fruit and whipping cream.

As Ruth suggested, meringues are cheap as well as individual Pavlovas which again you could serve with fruit and whipped cream and they are wonderfully delicious and not hard to make.

Another thing for the cafe might be banana loaf. It is VERY cheap to make. Here in BC bananas are usually about $.54/pound and a whole 11"loaf only costs about $2.50 for ingredients. That can easily be cut into 12 slices. Add a few chocolate chips for another popular variation.

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

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And rice pudding as well.

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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Bread pudding from any leftover rolls or sandwich bread and add fruit, nuts or a sauce.  You are buying wholesale - right?

Most of the ingredients we get are purchased from Gordon Food Service (GFS). Some stuff comes from Sam's Club and we also get lots of donations. The donations tend to be more veggies and meats though.

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  • 4 weeks later...

English trifles with leftover cakes and cookies. Add pastry cream+whipped cream (bavarian cream) flavored with sherry, rum, madeira, or whatever, and fresh fruits. I think stone fruits are best for this, plus berries. Whatever's on sale. Even over-ripe fruits work well. :wink:

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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