Dessert suggestions for large open house in June

We are hosting an open house (for the first time) in June for ~80 guests. The savory dishes will likely be catered but I would like to prepare some dessert items in advance. The reception is for my son whose Bar Mitzvah service will have taken place earlier in the day so we will have guests of all ages (although few very young children). Thanks in advance for the suggestions.



Windischgirl May 21, 2017
Also baklava, which is surprisingly easy if you take a few shortcuts--use a high quality premade filo, buy prechopped walnuts. Baklava is also vegan! Brush the layers with light olive oil, marg, or grape seed oil instead of butter, mix the nuts with sugar and spices, pour them in, and top with more filo. Make the syrup while it bakes. Baklava can be at cool room temperature, loosely covered with plastic, at least a day.
eakesin May 22, 2017
Thanks so much for these helpful suggestions - they are great!
HalfPint May 18, 2017
I would make a few different slab pies with whatever fruit might be in season.
eakesin May 18, 2017
Great idea! Not something I have done before but might consider for this event.
HalfPint May 18, 2017
Here are a few Smitten Kitchen recipes for slab pies:
eakesin May 18, 2017
Thank you so much for Smitten recipes - you read my mind!
Windischgirl May 21, 2017
I've made slab pies and frozen them, unbaked, for probably about 2 weeks. Wrap them well!
Although cupcakes are fun, if I'm feeding a crowd I try to avoid dishes that are individual servings, because it just seems like a lot more work, e.g., frosting 80 cupcakes vs. frosting three sheet pan cakes.
I'd probably make a couple of slab pies and a few batches of favorite bar cookies--brownies are an easy favorite, can be customized in many ways, made GF or allergy-free, and freeze well. Bakewell tart, linzer bars, hermit bars, even classic chocolate chip bars, etc.
Also with cupcakes, storage is a challenge--how do you stack all those cupcakes in an average fridge without squishing them? I'd leave bar cookies or sheetpan cakes in the pan until serving; much easier to stack those and use fridge space more efficiently.
creamtea May 18, 2017
I make delicious Black Bottom Cupcakes that people love. They are made from a simple chocolate batter similar to Whacky Cake (or dump cake) . Once the cupcake forms are filled with batter, you drop in a cream-cheese and chocolate chip mixture and bake. They are moist and delicious and everyone loves the creamy surprise in the middle. I also am a fan of Joanne Chang's Intense chocolate Brownies . I line the pan with parchment paper for easy removal. If making them pareve, I use coconut oil in place of the butter. These are fabulous brownies; no need to look further. I use Sharffen Berger chocolate.
eakesin May 18, 2017
Thank you so much for this great suggestion. I love Joanne Chang's recipes and really appreciate the pareve substitution - that is very helpful. Thanks again!
My F. May 18, 2017
Assuming you have more than one sheet pan, I would suggest a selection of little cakes and treats. Bake 4 or 5 options that can be made in a sheet pan: dulce de leche, pound cake, anything with filo dough. I've made this zucchini bread in a sheet pan for a party ( and brushed it with a rosemary syrup then topped with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting, cut it into 40 little bite sized pieces and everyone loved it.

The main logic of this suggestion is to find a couple things you can create many pieces of with little effort.
eakesin May 18, 2017
Thanks so much for the helpful suggestion!
MMH May 17, 2017
We have a friend who rented a soft serve ice cream machine for a graduation party. It was a huge hit. They had chocolate & vanilla & a variety of toppings.
eakesin May 18, 2017
Thank you - this is a fun idea!
PieceOfLayerCake May 17, 2017
Assuming you don't have any dietary or allergen restrictions a few things that popped into my head:
- individual trifles in those disposable, clear Chinet cups. Just make a few sheet pans of cake, a huge bowl of whipped cream (I like a little sour cream in there for dimension), some fruit compote and anything else in there you'd find appealing: swap out the whipped cream for custard if you're feeling ambitious, crushed textural components, a little booze etc.
- mini cupcakes are always a hit and can be dressed up or dressed down according to occasion.
- when I'm doing large events, I'll often bake large sheet pans of cake, sandwich them with buttercream and fruit, chill them well and cut them into fingers. It takes a bit of a commitment, but I feel that it's feels less of a throw away when you get to physically serve your guests.
- A sweets table with a few different options. This allows you to think of things that are simple and can be made in advance. Simple desserts are always elevated when you have a buffet of them. Things like brownies, blondies, cookies, macaron, mini cupcakes, mini panna cotta, etc.
- French pastries like eclair, profiteroles, canele, madeleine, financier, etc...are surprisingly simple and easy, but always make a big impact because they're FRENCH.
- Old school but quaintly elegant are those chocolate cups made with mini balloons and filled with fruit and cream. If its going to be warm where you are, I'd skip this one, but if you're not concerned with it, something fun for kids and nostalgic for adults. Everything that's old becomes new again.
- running with the nostalgia/sweets table theme: homemade versions of things like nutter butters, oreos, ho-hos, oatmeal cream pies, etc. I never get reactions, quite like I do with these kinds of sweets. Many of the components can be made ahead and easily assembled day of.

You could find desserts that are completely made ahead, but I find freshness really makes a big difference with desserts/sweets, so if you have the time that morning to devote, it would make an impact.
eakesin May 18, 2017
Thanks so much for the suggestions. I won't have time that morning or most of the day before but may be able to get some help with items that cannot be made in advance.
Nancy May 17, 2017
A few suggestions:
1) For guidelines on quantities advice see this link
2) If you or your guests will be following the kosher laws you may want to decide which is more important...if savory and meat, then desserts cannot use any dairy (and are more difficult to bring off). If desserts and you want them dairy, the main savory will also need to be dairy.
3) If you don't already have tested non-dairy dessert recipes, look to sites with tested kosher recipes, like Tori Avey or Joy of Kosher.And ask friends & family for their tested recipes, which will also make it the event particularly special for your guests.
4) Have some all-fruit options (fresh, compote etc) for those who can't eat sweets or gluten
5) Have at least one dessert chosen by the guest of honor...whether it's his favorite flavor cake, pie, bars or cookies.
Mazel tov to all!
eakesin May 17, 2017
Thanks so much for the suggestions, Nancy. Our savory dishes will be dairy and yes, we are planning on fruit and a requested frozen treat for my son. Thank you for the gluten free reminder. I will factor that into my baking plans. Thanks again!
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