“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”- Benjamin Franklin
The first part of any crazy undertaking like DIY wedding desserts for 160 people is the plan. So, this entry will be about, well, the planning that transpired before I even stepped into the kitchen.
So, as I mentioned, a few weeks ago, almost all my nights after work were spent baking for a wedding (160 people). The bride and groom planned their wedding from China, so we had about 30 email exchanges (including one phone call) brainstorming ideas and planning details.
These were some conditions that had to be met:
-Cake and etc had to be transported via car (ours..) to a location 2 hours away, for a Sunday wedding. Because Tim and I had already made plans to go to Long Island for Pau Pau’s birthday dinner, we had to drop the sweets off on Saturday morning.
-Transportable cookies with prep aheadability, as well as day-old storeability
-Ingredients cost of $100-200
-Make desserts for 160 guests, with some guests under 18 years
Normally, the ingredients cost restriction wouldn’t have been a huge problem, though because of how late the menu was finalized (6 days before the wedding), and because of the distance between the stores, I was not willing to waste precious time and gas making trips to Costco (butter, eggs, sugar), Trader Joe’s (good, affordable chocolate), a liquor store (Frangelico) and Shoprite (everything else). Good thing Shoprite was actually more or less affordable, and I used some of my own ingredients from home, like my homemade vanilla.
The bride and groom love chocolate and coffee, apparently, and we toyed with the idea of me making a bunch of biscotti rounds, plus all the components of tiramisu, then having some kind person assemble all the tiramisu once everything was on-site..
Instead, however, we settled on a 9 inch cake for the B&G to cut. For the cookies, I basically wrote down a big list of cookies I liked and thought would work well, and they confirmed their choices (on Monday!). The cookie assortment ended up being ‘tiramisu inspired’- I think it worked!
We decided on cake, then 400 cookies(4 varieties)
(Whomping big 5 layer 9″ cake that was super heavy)-Frangelico cake with espresso cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream
(8 dozen)-4 batches- Frangelico biscotti with chocolate drizzle
(12 dozen)- 4 batches- World Peace Cookies– Definitely was a favorite 😀
(9 dozen)-1 1/2 half sheet batches- Espresso Blondies with cream cheese swirl and white chocolate chunks
(6 dozen)-1 half sheet batches- Blondies with toffee bits (For the kids =O)
Total cookies- 35 dozen x 12 in a dozen = 420
First order of business? Grocery shopping. But first, I had already made the cake, frosted, decorated and froze it, but kept thinking about those holes in the cake (overmixing? Undermixing?). I wanted to do the cake again,so I planned that into the grocery list as well.
Anyway, with the final cookie menu in hand, I did some math and planning and went grocery shopping on Monday, less than a week before the event.
-Catering trays (4) for cookies: $12
-Cake round- (some cardboard from a box, plus another box from a coworker)- free
-Because of my love for baking, I had all the “hardware” I needed: a sturdy turntable for the super-heavy cake, angled spatulas, parchment paper, sheet pans, Silpat, a trusty kitchen scale, and other essentials that you can find on my Baking Equipment page.
-I realized at some point that I would need containers (large!) for the cookies. I got mine from a friendly chef at the cafeteria at work, but you should be able to get cookie trays at any store that carries catering supplies.
-I cut out cardboard rounds to use as the base of the cake; one that was the same size as the cake, and one that was a few inches larger. That way, when the cake eventually went in a cardboard box, the edges of the cake wouldn’t get smashed. I used aluminum foil to line the cardboard. You can’t use parchment paper to cover them, because tape won’t stick to them! I learned that the hard way.
I came home, then decided that I’d have another go at the cake. I would freeze it frosted but “naked” overnight, then wrap the whole thing with oodles of plastic wrap for longer term freezing.
Tuesday- Make biscotti
Wednesday- Make World Peace cookie dough
Thursday- off day
Friday- Re-bake biscotti (if the humidity got to them), drizzle biscotti, slice-and-bake cookies and make blondies. Slice blondies and arrange all cookies on platters.
Saturday- Delivery day! Un-wrap cake immediately upon taking it out of the freezer.