Serious Eats

Serious Entertaining: Desserts For A Crowd

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[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

Oh, you lucky duck you! You've got quite the roster of friends, and everyone knows that "The More the Merrier" is your point of view. Ah, yes, life is all rainbows and butterflies...

...Until you invite your teeming horde of friends over to your house for dinner. You can't not invite anyone, so here you are, sleeves rolled up, fridge stocked with beer, ready to do the dirty and feed the masses. The first course is a breeze (bruschetta anyone? A cheese plate perhaps?) and luckily everyone loves your chili and drools over your lasagna.

But then there's dessert. Sometimes you ask a friend to bring dessert, sometimes you hit up the Italian bakery on your way home, and sometimes—yes it's true—sometimes you eschew this final course all together, hoping that everyone will be too full of hamburgers to notice. But because my personal motto is, "Don't forget dessert," I give you three tasty solutions to this problem. No dainty souffles or individual tarts here; these are desserts to feed a crowd.

Carrot Sheet Cake

You probably remember sheet cakes from Middle School, when moms everywhere brought them into class for an easy birthday treat. Well this is the time to introduce them to adult life. And why not? It's the same great tasting cake as you'd find in a double or triple layer cake, with half the fuss.

This particular carrot cake is supremely moist thanks to a hearty dose of juicy pineapple and freshly grated carrots. The cake is spiced with cinnamon and has a slight molasses flavor from the dark brown sugar. Once it's spread with a beautifully thick and tangy cream cheese frosting, no one will remember what shape the cake came in.

Pecan Pie Bars

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These bars are pecan pie taken to the next level. The topping is just as gooey, sweet, and nutty as the filling of a pecan pie, except here deep, smooth caramel has replaced corn syrup. The crust is essentially one slightly salty, rich and buttery cookie. This recipe will make enough for even the biggest group to have seconds.

Apple Crisp

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A crisp is when warm fruit is topped with a slightly crumbly topping of sugar, oats and butter. It's always a crowd pleaser, and the best part is that you can swap out apples to showcase any seasonal fruit. Scratch that—the truly best part is when you top the hot crisp with cold vanilla ice cream and it begins to melt on contact, filling the apple nooks with sweet cream.

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