Baking For a Crowd

June 10, 2011

A few months ago, my boss shocked me, along with everyone else who worked for her, by announcing that she was retiring at the end of May. Since we couldn’t talk her out of leaving, we decided that we would send her off in style. And what better way (at least in my opinion) than with a dessert buffet. A dessert buffet that I offered to make!

One challenge was that we didn’t know how many people would come to the party. Leftovers are fine; running out of food is not, so I baked a lot. There were leftovers, and they vanished the next day.

What I made

I decided what to make based on my favorite recipes, things that I thought would please a crowd, and things that I could easily transport to work. I didn’t get a photo of everything. I was busy baking! Links to recipes are at the end of the post.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Topped with a mini peanut butter cup.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Topped with chocolate sprinkles.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Topped with toasted coconut. Cupcakes for the non-chocolate crowd.

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

I have a hard time picking favorites, but I will now declare that this is my favorite recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. I put each bar in a cupcake paper to make them easier to serve.

Lenox Almond Biscotti

Another Dorie Greenspan recipe. We served coffee and milk, so I thought that biscotti would be a nice addition to the lineup.

Chocolate-Cashew Biscotti

This is Martha Stewart’s Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti recipe with cashews instead of pistachios. Why? Because I had a bag of unsalted cashews in my freezer. It’s excellent with either nut.

Ranger Cookies

My signature cookie, which I’ve brought to work many times.


One of my coworkers brought two pans of yummy bars, which I now have the recipe for, so when I make them, I’ll post them here. She also dipped pretzel rods in white and semi-sweet chocolate and decorated them with colorful sprinkles. These were great additions to our dessert buffet.


I stored, transported, and served the cookies, biscotti, and bars in large plastic containers. I had too many cupcakes to fit in my cupcake carrier, so I was thrilled to find these large foil pans. They are deep, very sturdy, and cost $2.44 each at Target. I can’t say enough about these pans! I washed them and they’re ready to use again.

I covered the pans with Glad Press ‘n Seal, which worked great. The freezer wrap, which is on the two pans toward the back, is thicker and easier to work with than the regular Press ‘n Seal.


A little planning goes a long way. I tallied up the amount of each ingredient I would need. I compared that to what I already had and then made a grocery list and purchased everything a few days ahead. When I was done, I patted myself on the back for not needing any last-minute grocery store runs!  I also made a schedule of what to bake each day for the three days leading up to the party and did some prep work four days before the party, such as chopping peanuts and weighing and sifting dry ingredients for the chocolate cupcakes. I appreciated the prep work when I was in the thick of baking.

The buffet

Here are a couple of photos of everything set out at the party. I made signs with a brief description of each item. No forks needed, and no one had to cut and serve a cake, which was really nice.

Recipe Links

A note about frosting: How far a batch of frosting will go depends on how much you put on each cupcake. You should always have extra ingredients on hand in case you need to make more.

Final thoughts

This was a lot of fun! It was a little stressful, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I would do this again, and I think I could step it up a notch to make things a little fancier. There are only a couple of things I’d do differently next time. I would use larger piping tips for the frosting. I haven’t decorated a lot of cupcakes and thought I was using a large enough tip, but I think a larger one would have been easier and looked nicer. Also…next time I’d try to eat less of what I baked! When I’m just baking one thing and making a small amount, I can limit myself. It was a lot harder with such a large selection of tasty treats!


  1. I am SOOOO darn impressed, Jill! I LOVE the idea of a dessert buffet-what a wonderful send off for your boss. I am sure you were exhausted after all of that baking-but I know it was very well received. I adore Glad Press and Seal wrap…I don’t know what I did before that came out on the market! I make something called yummy bars-I’m wondering if our recipes are similar?

  2. Wow, kudos Jill!! What an amazing spread, a dessert buffet is such a fun idea! I’ve never baked for a crowd, but your tips will definitely come in handy when I do, especially since I’m such a giant procrastinator 🙂

    PS – I can’t wait to try those pina colada cupcakes! I bookmarked them when you first posted them and really need to get on it…

  3. you did a wonderful job! That’s my kind of party

  4. What a great party. You had something for everyone. You should pat yourself on the back. I am sure you loved doing this but it was work. Kudos.

  5. Oh my goodness, what an impressive project to take on! You chose a great variety of treats and everything looks amazing. It is always better to have more food than not enough! I made some treats to serve at my wedding and there were leftovers (since there was also cake and ice cream cones) and people were more than happy to take them home.

  6. What an amazing friend and co-worker you are!
    I recently made that peanut butter frosting and the chocolate cupcakes that go with it, and thought it was great. And I forgot all about those almost-candy bars. I’ll have to make that recipe again!

  7. Wow, that’s amazing – I’m sure it was a ton of work but it looks like it was totally worth it! I hope you get a promotion or a raise out of this 🙂

  8. Jill, this all looks amazing! I am very impressed, especially with the bulk transportation. Love the peanut butter cupcakes – yum!

  9. Oh, I love posts like this! I love to see how to do it, make it, store it, package it, and serve it…pictures are so great. Thanks for posting all this…was great!

  10. I am SO impressed with everything you baked. You did such an amazing job!

  11. Very impressive Jill. Of course I know you bake great, but baking in volume in a home kitchen is a whole other thing…you pulled it off with aplomb! All those organizing skills come in handy!

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