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Old 02-15-2011, 10:22 PM   #1
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Dessert Ideas - gala for 350 - Under the sea theme

Desserts are my least favorite thing to make. I have a some pretty good tricks, but they don't get my imagination going the way savory does. So I am asking the aid of the imaginations here!

I am working on the menu for the annual "big" fundraiser at my church. It is a dinner and auction gala. Passed apps, plated salads, buffet main course, family style desserts at each table is the general menu format. Passed apps keeps folks moving around the silent auction tables; family style desserts gets them back to the table for the live auction part.

The theme this year is "Under the Sea", so the bulk of the menu will lean toward seafood, with other choices modeled on famous ocean liner menus to satisfy those who hate fishy stuff. There is no geographic element to the theme (we aren't doing a luau or a clam bake or an islands thing, just under the sea). The names and descriptions of the menu dishes carry out the theme as much as the items themselves do. The food at our gala always aims to be top notch - no compromises type stuff - if we don't succeed, it won't be because we didn't try.

The cooking is done in a "more than adequate to feed 200" institutional, school kitchen. 350 meals, done well, stretches it and we always end up renting some equipment and working some magic outside. The tables are set for 10, so the space for placing the desserts is tight. At least 2 desserts of about 6 servings per table needed, with some "extras" for providing on request. Service done by "slightly trained" but well supervised teens, who clamor for the chance to be chosen each year. The budget is not unlimited, but because the labor is donated, it has always been more than adequate. We gross about $100,000.

I have a few ideas, none of which excite me. What would you do?

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Old 02-15-2011, 10:53 PM   #2
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Are you going elegant or fun? There are lots of ideas for ocean/beach themed cupcakes after a quick Google search. Also the blue jello/gummy fish types of desserts. Something served on those plastic oyster shells would be pretty. Godiva makes seashell shaped chocolates, but that may be out of your budget range....hmmmm.....

Since it is for a church, maybe the Christian fish symbol cookie cut-outs?
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Old 02-15-2011, 11:00 PM   #3
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Thanks! Really going more for elegant. I did have a passing thought about cupcakes, because they are so trendy, but 350 are a PITA, given the low WOW factor. Actually the Godiva chocolates as an element are in my mental inventory, so feel free to expand on what you would do with them
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Old 02-15-2011, 11:05 PM   #4
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Well, this may be out of my league, but I'll give it some thought over night. I love a challenge!!
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:09 AM   #5
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Also the blue jello/gummy fish types of desserts.

Great minds think alike. That was the first thing that came to mind when I read the theme.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:11 AM   #6
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As for the Godiva chocolates, I would just scatter them across the tables, either the dining tables themselves or on the serving tables, but not in bowls, just around the tablecloths, almost like someone just dropped them there.

Oh, a quick easy and almost universally enjoyed dish would be a shrimp cocktail. Served in a very large bowl (maybe a fishbowl) on ice with cocktail sauce would fit the theme and be easy to serve.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:15 AM   #7
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I'm reminded of a fairly awful thing we made in home ec: under the sea salad. It had green Jello and cottage cheese plus some other stuff. I think the cottage cheese was supposed to look like the sand at the bottom of the sea.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:03 AM   #8
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You can use the Godiva or Guylian chocolate seashells to garnish the top and sides of a frosted cake.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:30 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AnnieDrews View Post
Are you going elegant or fun? There are lots of ideas for ocean/beach themed cupcakes after a quick Google search. Also the blue jello/gummy fish types of desserts. Something served on those plastic oyster shells would be pretty. Godiva makes seashell shaped chocolates, but that may be out of your budget range....hmmmm.....

Since it is for a church, maybe the Christian fish symbol cookie cut-outs?
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Great minds think alike. That was the first thing that came to mind when I read the theme.
I saw a really cool looking Jello creation one time. It was done in a clear bowl (could use a new goldfish bowl), with blue Jello, with gummy fish and sea creatures "swimming" in it.

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Old 02-16-2011, 05:08 AM   #10
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NoraC, I think I would do mini desserts,,,

Mini cheesecakes
Mini creampuffs
Mini biscotti
Mini fruit tarts
Mini eclairs
Mini cupcakes (yes I said cupcakes, tho they may be trendy, everyone loves them)
Mini brownies

Mini, mini, mini, well you get my point... You could place these on small cupcakes towers in the middle of each table...
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Old 02-16-2011, 06:01 AM   #11
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Oh and there's always,,,

truffles
macaroons
chocolate mousse in pastry shells

Have fun!!!
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:44 AM   #12
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Thanks for the ideas. This is not a jello type event, more a scattered Godivas thing over all, though I have had fun doing the jello/gummy thing in plastic cups for kids' parties. One thing that adds to that is to put a thin layer of white chocolate on the bottom to be the sand.

Mimi, we did a minis tower about 3 years ago for a 50's themed gala - served them on towers made of LP's and 45's, with black and white checked risers (actually various sized tin cans, covered in contact paper. That was a big hit and the serving piece covered the theme tie in.

I do have 350 coconut shell halves from salad service 2 years ago. Maybe they could be hot glued into service as a dessert display, with some shells. ...and some Godivas scattered around the base.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:30 AM   #13
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When my kids were little we made dirt cups but used vanilla cookies and pudding and called them sand cups. They could be made in elegant clear glasses and use the Godiva chocolate shells as garnish.
http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1840...231201,00.html
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:35 AM   #14
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When my kids were little we made dirt cups but used vanilla cookies and pudding and called them sand cups. They could be made in elegant clear glasses and use the Godiva chocolate shells as garnish.
http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1840...231201,00.html
Hmmm - maybe a white chocolate mousse, with chopped macadamia nut "sand" and chocolate shells...hmmm... couldn't be bad ...
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:10 AM   #15
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How about a dessert that reminds me of strawberry shortcake but is Shortbread Seashells with Black Pearls (aka blueberries). Use two soft-baked shortbread shell cookies with the flat sides together...then slightly open the fanned out part so it looks just like an opened scallop shell that is still hinged at the flat edge. Stuff the whipped cream in the opening, sprinkle the top of the cookies with confectioners sugar, and then lastly spoon some blueberries on and around the whipped cream as if they're spilling out of the opened shell and onto the plate.

There are two styles of shell pans. I like the more fanned out version though harder to fine (the less fanned version is also called a madeleine pan).

Click on this link and then scroll all the way to the bottom to see a photo of the plated Shortbread Seashells with Black Pearls.
http://www.onceuponaplate1.com/2009/...ach-party.html

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Old 02-16-2011, 11:26 AM   #16
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I vote for pina colada cupcakes (with cocktail umbrellas), maybe a small cake that has a sandy fondant with different chocolate shells (maybe with pearls for a little glam), or a white chocolate and coconut mousse (with a rum flavoring?) in your coconuts? I would stear clear of all things blue, no one really wants to eat something tinted to look like a Kmart Special.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:54 AM   #17
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Love the black pearls! ...and actually I do have the fanned out pans; it would be 24 at a time, sigh, but that's why God gave us the freezer, right?

BTB - I feel the same way about blue food, except for with kids, who are charmed by it somehow.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:07 PM   #18
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I keep thinking about strawberries since they are in season, maybe even as a decoration on a mini cheesecake, fanned out like a scallop shell.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:21 PM   #19
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Zhizara, the strawberry idea that keeps popping into my head is "drowned in Chocolate" - ganache dipped whole berries. They would work well with minis in a coconut shell tower, I think.
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:51 PM   #20
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How about a chilled fruit soup. You can make it with lychees, bluberries(if you like to stick with the blue and white color scheme). There are so many recipes out there. It's elegant and should match your theme. You can garnish it with fresh fruit slices, zest, chocolate grating, mint, edible flowers etc.
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