Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sis's wedding: making a dessert buffet

Previous wedding posts: wedding overview, the cake recipe, and the invitations.

Food is a huge part of the wedding budget. Sis was having an afternoon wedding, so we decided to keep things simple and stick with a dessert buffet, and champagne, cider and coffee to drink. You save money a couple ways. Obviously, you don't have to pay for full meals. You also don't have to rent forks, and you can just get small plates and cocktail napkins. Note: You need two plates for every guest, plus forks for the cake serving, unless you want to ask people to bring back their dessert plates so you can serve them cake. Trust me, you don't. It would back the cake line up significantly, unless your wedding is really small.

Making cookies is fun. Making thousands of cookies while living in an apartment is logistically difficult. I knew there was no way I could make dozens of batches of cookies the week before the wedding, so I started researching my options.

My creation

The freezer is your best bet, unless you are an actual baker by profession and have an industrial kitchen and lots of time. I looked for cookies that could be either baked and frozen, or doughs that could be rolled into logs, frozen, and then sliced and baked the day before. The goal here is to avoid getting stuck shaping cookies (even drop cookies take time) in the midst of pre-wedding madness.

I made an Excel spreadsheet for myself, listing all the recipes I was going to use, and the number of batches of each, and then had it calculate the total pounds of flour, butter, etc. I needed to buy. I did one or two major shopping trips at Smart and Final and bought supplies in bulk. Knowing my entire list ahead of time saved time and money.

I made one or two different types of cookies per week, mixing up two double batches of each to save time, for the month and a half prior to the wedding. Of course, this meant our entire freezer (and my parents' entire freezer) was filled with cookies and cookie dough.

A few days before the wedding, I made hundreds of mini cupcakes. I cheated and used boxed mix that I picked up when it was on sale for $1 a box but I did make real frosting. The easy way to dole out cupcake batter? Get a gallon size ziploc bag, scrape the entire bowl of batter into it, seal the bag, cut a small bit of one of the corners out and then just use it to neatly dispense cupcake batter into the cups. You wouldn't believe how much time this saves, compared to spooning batter into each cup. You get approximately 75 mini cupcakes per box of cake mix, which makes these really cost effective.

The single, sadly diminished (and incredibly low res) shot

We also picked out classic cookies in black and white (oreos, vanilla sandwich cookies and mini meringues) and put them in huge hurricane vases scattered around the dessert tables. It was cute and not very expensive.

Tips for doing a massive dessert buffet:

1. Unless you are a control freak (I freely admit I have a problem), please get other people to help. I've heard that in the midwest, cookie buffets are a wedding tradition, with family members bringing cookies to share. I think this is a great idea, if you provide the plating set up.

2. Tables look better with lots of height layers. I used my own stash of vintage cake platters and borrowed stands from people, trying to make sure we ended up with a variety of heights. I also bought (from a flower supplier) inexpensive hurricane vases in various sizes, to add a little contrast.

3. Buy little bags or boxes. We had tons of leftovers at the end of the night, and we set out little brown lunch bags, so that people could pack up cookies to take home.

4. Get someone to take pictures! I am still so sad that we don't have any good pictures of the tables, because they were really pretty when they were all set up.


  1. You are a beautiful, creative Martha Stewart :) I say that in the best possible sense! I'm so impressed with your organization and foresight!

    Did you have any favorite desserts?

  2. How resourceful!! I admire your planning and creative ways to solve space problems. The end result was beautiful, even in a low res shot.

    I agree that working out of an apartment to help with a wedding is challenging. I recently arranged all the flowers for my friend's wedding...and somehow put together 30 centerpieces, altar arrangements, 10 bouquets and boutonnieres all in a petite apartment. The living room did look like an explosion of flower land :)

  3. This is amazing, you are such a nice sister :)

  4. This is quite random, but I happened to remember that you wanted the shrimp recipe Jora posted from Gourmet recently. I wanted it too and have discovered that the recipe is now up on Epicurious:

    Love your blog!

  5. mmm... i love everything. I'm sure the execution was wonderfully perfect. I am quite taken with the concept of mini cupcakes- thanks for the idea!

  6. Very good pointers! The freezer does become ones best friend when you run out of space.
    I made key lime ice cream rolls for a wedding during the heart of the summer last August. Thank goodness we purchased a freezer and I still was running out of room. I was like a crazy woman take a couple pans at a time hop in the car, blast the a/c knocking everyone and thing in site to make it to restaurant and put in their walk-in freezer. I think we did 5-6 trips.

  7. Wow - so much work - but they look great and I'm sure taste yummy!

  8. ha - i love how you suggest that people ask for assistance when you baked just about everything by yourself. this all looks gorgeous, i think you should offer a reward for any other photographs that exist of this table!

  9. the temptation is too much...I am feeling weak.....

  10. I can not believe you made this all yourself. Do you have a job as well? I can't see how you fit in all this baking! Your blog is really inspiring me to bake (and I don't do baking.)

  11. More proof that you are Superwoman!

    I love your idea of using the ziploc to portion cupcakes. I've used it for icing before, but using it for batter is 15 kinds of genius!

  12. what a brilliant idea!!! i just want a pile of cookies for my wedding :)

  13. Look at this! Beautiful! Would love to have your organization skills...

  14. i tagged you on my blog- hope you will participate!

  15. Tag.

  16. Holy moly -- you are officially awesome! I just bought a chest freezer, and I'm still afraid to attempt anything like this. Seriously, you are my new hero.

  17. Not sure if you would still even have it, but I would love a copy of your excel recipe spreadsheet! My sister and I are doing my dessert buffet wedding and I would love the organizational help. Thanks!

  18. I realise this is an old post - but some really good tips here. Thank you!


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