Cooking for a Crowd – The Desserts

Posted by | July 24, 2014 | Cooking, Recipe | No Comments

I just finished a series of four live cooking demos for the Springs Preserve here in Vegas. I am so glad I had the opp to work with them.  The entire series was about how to make the most of being the host.  Entertaining can be a pain in the ass. If you are the one stuck in the kitchen doing everything, you don’t have time to enjoy and visit with your guests.  All of the recipes I did for the series were geared to show you “make ahead” options and tips so you could be in the party instead of in your kitchen.

This past demo was about cocktails and desserts for a crowd that you can mostly make ahead.  Chef Beni Velazquez shared his peach sangria recipe and helped me out with the demo.  You can find the cocktail recipes here.

Sorry there is no pic, but the next time I make it, I will update the post!

The Mixed Berry Shortcake was the one everyone liked the best so here is the recipe and some tips on how to make it:

Mixed Berry Shortcake


  • DO NOT macerate the berries too far in advance – about ½ hour maximum – or they will get slimy and mushy.
  • I use part fresh and part frozen berries because I like the extra juice the frozen berries give off, but you can use all fresh if you like.
  • Wash your strawberries BEFORE you hull them.  If you hull them first, the open flesh of the berry acts like a sponge and you get water trapped in the flesh of the berry diluting the real berry taste.
  • Use an egg slicer to slice the strawberries so they are all the same thickness
  • The recipe for the shortcakes was adapted from a recipe in Cook’s Country magazine
  • I usually will skip the parchment paper because I bake on a stone. HOWEVER, because we are sprinkling sugar on the tops and it is a bitch to clean up melted sugar, I use the parchment for this recipe.  If you can find the brown, unbleached kind, get that!
  • The shortcakes can be made in the morning, and bring the guests into the kitchen to chat with you while you prep the berries. It only takes about 7 minutes for the prep.  Enough time to pour a cocktail!


1 qt strawberries – hulled and sliced (you can quarter them if they are small)

3 cups frozen mixed berries, thawed

2-3 tbsp raw sugar, more if you like it REALLY sweet

2 tbsp Grand Marnier

Zest of one orange – I like to have the zest in strips because it looks prettier, but you can use grated orange peel as well

Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for no more than 30 minutes.



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and frozen 30 minutes

½ stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and frozen 30 minutes

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Raw sugar, Demerara sugar, or Turbinado sugar for sprinkling


1.  Adjust oven rack into middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. Add cream cheese and butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Transfer flour mixture to large bowl.  Stir in buttermilk by hand until combined (dough will be very dry).

2.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly until dough comes together – it should take about 3 mintues. Roll or hand form dough into 8 x 6-inch rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick.  Cut into 12, 2-inch squares and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

3. Using a pastry brush, top each biscuit with a light bath of buttermilk and then sprinkle with your chosen sugar.

Bake 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.  Your sugar will be dark brown in places, don’t worry.

Split the shortcakes, top with berries and then pile on the whipped cream.  I prefer freshly whipped cream, but in a pinch use canned or Cool Whip™.


Here is the link for the Blueberry Buckle that I made in advance.  And this is the piece in Bon Appetit that inspired the Savory Apricot Pastry.