Recipes for a Bake Sale
May 27, 2014 10:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm organizing a bake sale that will take place in a record store; we'll be selling baked goods while a couple different bands perform. It's a benefit for an all-ages nonprofit performance space, so the crowd is going to be more "denim vests and cheap beer" than "PTA fundraiser cake walk." I'd like suggestions for recipes that don't require me to buy an ingredient that I'm only going to use a small portion of, are fairly simple to make, and easy to make into sturdy single servings that don't require plates or forks. Bonus questions: vegan suggestions, jello shots, and savory items.

The money for ingredients is coming out of my pocket. I have a pantry fully stocked with the standard ingredients like flour, baking soda and powder, sugar, etc. I'm fine buying a pack of strawberries for strawberry rhubarb bars, for example, but I'm not ok buying a can of dehydrated egg whites that I'm going to use a tablespoon of, so streamlined recipes using standard American baking ingredients are important.

Also important: fairly simple recipes, and I'm totally ok with using cheats and shortcuts. I'm actually a pretty capable baker (and an amazing cook if I do say so myself), but since I'm going to be making many different items, this is really not the occasion for the Christina Tosi recipe that is actually four different recipes rolled into one. For example, I often totally cheat and make the cream cheese mix from this recipe, then swirl it into some Betty Crocker brownie batter. Don't judge me! Everyone loves them and asks me for the recipe!

There will be at least one vegan present. I have a few different varieties of vegan cookies covered, but I'd like to make at least one vegan savory appetizer-like item that will appeal equally well to omnivores that just don't like sugar. Cornbread with roasted corn/jalapeno mixed in? Something that isn't baked at all but travels and keeps at room temp well? I'm fine buying dairy-free milk, but I'm not hunting down agar-agar and nooch.

Lastly, I'd like to make something alcoholic that travels well and isn't messy. I'm thinking jello shots (I'm aware these are not vegan). Does anyone have a recipe for a way to make jello shots less disgusting and frat house? I'm ok with using unflavored gelatin and real ingredients as long as I have a specific recipe that has been tested and will definitely set up. I have access to an herb garden to steep herbs in the same heated liquid I dissolve the gelatin in. I guess I'm just looking for something fancier than "cherry jello + vodka," though the liquor used will be middle-shelf at best.

It takes place this Saturday in Chicago and I threw a FB link at the bottom of my profile.
posted by Juliet Banana to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Carmelitas! So delicious.

Also, everybody loves Rice Krispy treats and they are about the easiest thing in the world to make. 3 ingredients- butter, marshmallows, and the cereal.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:07 AM on May 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

Shortbread cookies with cream cheese icing.

Trust me.

I have a unicorn cookie cutter for these cookies. I've used canned cream cheese frosting for this before to much accolades and excitement. I also put rainbow sprinkles on top once, which was also bizarrely popular. And I'm talking grown ups, here, not kids. I've actually only ever made these for grown ups. Biggest thing is just to use real, proper butter in the cookies.

Also (and I'm sort of serious) I'd be tempted to just cook a whack of bacon crisp and set out a plate of crisp cooked bacon.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:23 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Olive Oil Cake.

Don't be fooled by the photo. Make in a loaf pan and slice it like pound cake, and it can absolutely be eaten by hand.

It does call for Grand Marnier, but that's worth having on hand anyway. And you may be able to do without it or sub another liqueur. Recipes I've had haven't relied on an orange flavor like this one does.
posted by Sara C. at 10:27 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Vegan empanadas? I made mini ones for an event (about 3" in diameter) and they were not actually that much work - I think medium-sized ones would be even less work.

I actually made these and the filling was a lot of work - but if I were doing it all again, I would just make a black bean/olive/onion/cumin/chili/cocoa filling. The olives and cocoa powder really do add a meaty quality.

Really, any kind of vegan thing in a calzone/empanada shell is good - I made potato-onion-pea "calzone" once and they were popular. The key is to make them about 4"-5" in diameter - big enough to be substantial and non-maddening to make (unlike the itty ones) and small enough to be an appetizer.
posted by Frowner at 10:29 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cheese Straws. Always Cheese Straws.

If you want to get fancy, make them with different kinds of cheese.
posted by greenish at 10:29 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh and jello shots - a friend of mine made these with rum, lime jelly and fresh mint leaves. Such mojito, very non-frat, wow.
posted by greenish at 10:31 AM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Re rice krispy treats, a cafe I once worked at did salted caramel rice krispy treats and they sold like hotcakes.

(Not our cafe's recipe, obviously.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I need to bake cookies in batch, I like to do bar cookies. These blueberry crumb bar cookies are excellent, as are these lemon bars (you could probably use a sugar cookie or shortbread mix for the base on the lemon bars).

For the vegans/non-sugary people, how about savory scones? I can't vouch for this recipe for Spinach and Onion vegan scones, but it looks pretty good and doesn't use bizarre ingredients.

I tried these ginger lemonade jello shots and they were great - really refreshing and not cloying. The other versions look great too. She uses fancy molds, but I just used the standard jello shot container.

To riff on ThePinkSuperhero's idea, these salted brown butter rice krispies are really good, super fast, and always get eaten up fast when I go to a party.
posted by topophilia at 10:32 AM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, the no-failiest thing I've ever made (that wasn't candy - would you be interested in candy recipes?) is these Cooks Illustrated raspberry bars. I make them vegan by subbing in any kind of vegan butter, and I double the quantities of jam and berries. I actually usually make them with frozen blueberry and raspberry jam, but I've also used frozen peaches and apricot jam and other variants. Basically, the berries/jam can just be whatever is cheapest.

Make a double recipe and cut them up into big bars - I have made these at a....well, not as hipster an event, but definitely a young-people-with-the-cheap-beer-and-the-ironic-fashions event, and they sell well. People really, really seem to like them.

I've found a lot of success with old-fashioned stuff, too - molasses cookies, old-fashioned shortbread, peanut butter cookies. Stuff that isn't too fatty or frosted - I think it makes a nice change for people from all the cupcakes/nutella-swirl-frosting/cake-pops/etc.
posted by Frowner at 10:34 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you can get dark chocolate easily these dark chocolate avocado truffles (they don't taste avocado-y!) are easy one-offs that would "pair" nicely with a variety of jello shots. Vegan if you check your chocolate.
posted by jessamyn at 10:42 AM on May 27, 2014

Best answer: There will be at least one vegan present. I have a few different varieties of vegan cookies covered, but I'd like to make at least one vegan savory appetizer-like item that will appeal equally well to omnivores that just don't like sugar.

Crispy spiced chickpeas, mixed nuts, or Chex mix? People love stuff in cute little cellophane bags.

If you don't mind picking up some phyllo dough, maybe vegan spanakopita (alt.)?

A lot of storebought puff pastry is vegan as-is -- Pepperidge Farm, for one -- and very versatile. You could roll it out and make vegan pizza pinwheels with tomato sauce, olives, artichokes, spinach, faux sausage, etc. Press it into muffin cups and fill them with tofu and veggies for kinda-sorta mini-quiches. Or wrap up some samosas.

My go-to vegan sweet baked goods recipes are both by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: sparkled ginger cookies and golden vanilla cupcakes. And the best vegan cornbread I've ever made is here.
posted by divined by radio at 10:44 AM on May 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

I really like these brownies here, except I make them with goat cheese instead of mascarpone. It makes them taste...goatier. Mmm.

Easy to make, they look nice, and they feel just a bit more fancy and special than standard brownies.
posted by phunniemee at 10:44 AM on May 27, 2014

Best answer: If you have a waffle iron, these puff pastry savory waffles that serious eats has been talking up look really good and would be easy to veganize. I have not made them, but I think the puff pastry savory vegan thing idea is great - I, a vegan, would be drawn as needle to the pole turns toward a savory puff pastry vegan thing because I never get that kind of stuff at events.
posted by Frowner at 10:50 AM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Coca-Cola cake can be made with a real baking recipe or by dumping a can of coke into a box of chocolate cake mix (but use the actual icing recipe!) Though I have eaten and enjoyed something that I'm sure must have been one or the other method, I don't know which it was and have not yet baked them both for comparison.
posted by aimedwander at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

A note about those puff pastry waffles: you have to have a Belgian waffle iron for them OR cut them down to about 1/4 the size. Making them full-size in a regular (shallower) iron is a disaster ask me how i know
posted by troika at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2014

Rice krispy treats and chocolate chip cookies seem to do really well at bake sales. I bake a lot for various crowds, and some like the "weird" stuff, but most tend to appreciate well-done classics. The single most raved about thing I ever made for a sale were these individual cheesecakes, although I skipped the graham cracker crust and made them on a vanilla wafer instead, because I was in a hurry. I also topped them with fresh fruit.
posted by PearlRose at 11:01 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I haven't used this recipe exactly, but Jolie Kerr just posted a recipe for Bourbon Balls that looks mighty tasty. They're super easy and don't require actual cooking. And you probably have the liquor on hand, and if you don' darn, you have extra bourbon at home.
posted by radioamy at 11:19 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rice krispy treats and brownies are the best-sellers at the bake sales I contribute to.

I've made both brown butter and salted caramel rice krispy treats in the past, and they were delicious and easy. This past time, however, I indulged my sprinkle loving inner child and made cake batter rice crispy treats with sprinkles. Sprinkles! I love them so much! They're made of happiness!

The best price on sprinkles at the grocery store was on a large tub, and I used to the leftovers to fill glass spice jars and decorate my kitchen. I will definitely making sprinkle rice crispy treats for the next bake sale.

This past time, I upped my packaging game by placing the rice krispy treats and cream cheese swirl brownie portions on a rectangle of very brightly colored paper in small zip locks. They loioked very cheerful.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:27 AM on May 27, 2014

Everyone loves funfetti cupcakes. If you make your own buttercream frosting it really fancies them up, since homemade frosting is so much better than the canned variety.

Also peanut butter and jelly bars and butterscotch blondies with peanut pretzel caramel are both pretty cheap and simple to make, and a good non-chocolate option.
posted by inertia at 11:34 AM on May 27, 2014

My bake sale go to is Rice Krispy treats but swap out half the rice krispy cereal for fruity pebbles. It's a fun twist on a classic and easy to make.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 11:43 AM on May 27, 2014

Lemon wedge jello shots

Vegan seeded flatbread You need to make the dough the night before, but it is very easy.

Chocolate Cheerio Hazelnut treats I get requests for these all the time! A couple of changes from the recipe: use more butter (like 2/3 of a stick) and brown it before you melt in the marshmallows. Also if you have an electric range turn off the burner and use the residual heat to melt the marshmallows.
posted by ephemerista at 11:45 AM on May 27, 2014

These Hot and Spicy Chocolate Chip cookies are always a hit. (They are not actually HOT AND SPICY, more like warm and spicy.) The extra ingredients are cinnamon and cayenne powder.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:47 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

These vegan mini-quiches are surprisingly delicious (especially when you add more sauteed veggies and field roast vegan sausage), and have gone over well with non-vegans I know (although they're folks who are open to tofu - not sure if you have the soy is evil crowd to contend with). Anything in puff pastry or other dough (samosas, empanadas, etc) sounds great too.

Also, these pb blondies are the easiest vegan cookie I know how to make and can be made gluten free successfully (just use a gluten free flour mix). People love them - I have a standing order for every office potluck.
posted by snaw at 11:54 AM on May 27, 2014

If you can, bring a toaster oven to the store with you. For an extra buck, they can have a warm cookie straight from the oven! Warm cookie scent is scientifically proven to make me spend more money too.
posted by fontophilic at 12:04 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Congo Bars -- I use this recipe but substitute dark brown sugar for light. They're basically Blondies with chocolate chips. Nice and chewy!
posted by wryly at 12:15 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You want Jelly Shot Test Kitchen! My favourite is the French lemonade. You would easily finish the rest of your Chambord making them over and over, but it is such a mind-blowingly great recipe that I would just jellify the whole bottle and sell squares for an obscene price. Free sample slivers will make them fly off, I'd expect.

A savoury snack I thrill to is ploughman's-lunch-on-a-stick, with cubes of bread, cheese, pickles, pickled onions, apples, maybe boiled egg, on a skewer -- experience has shown that you need a crowd who is a little on the Anglo side for them to really go over well, though.
posted by kmennie at 5:53 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's my mom's recipe for Mandelbread (or Mandelbrot), which is like Jewish biscotti. Super easy and everyone loves them. You may even have all the ingredients on hand! You can make the dough days before baking, too. It's super easy to just mix up in a bowl, too.

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups AP flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
dash of salt
Optional: Chocolate chips and/or nuts, to taste

1) Cream eggs & sugar. Add remain ingredients, mix until stiff.
2) Refrigerate at least an hour

When you are ready to bake:

3) Preheat oven to 350F, line baking sheet with parchment paper
4) Form dough into flat logs
5) Bake for 25 minutes
6) Remove cookies, slice on diagonal (like biscotti), flip cookies on their side, and bake 5-10 minutes more.
7) Cool on rack.

You can make the cookies large or small so yield will vary.

These will freeze forever, and are really good right out of the freezer. You could get fancy and dip one end in chocolate or get even fancier and dip the chocolate end in something else.

These are very plain cookies and people love them.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:16 AM on May 28, 2014

Response by poster: Well, the vegan pizza rolls had to be scrapped after I decided to combine cooking the filling with cooking filling for my veggie-shepherd's-pie dinner and threw some butter in on "cooking for myself" autopilot...whoops. However, I'm making lemons from that lemonade - mini vegetarian-but-not-vegan shephard's pies were added to the menu, and I'll use the extra puff pastry to make vegan olive tapenade pinwheels.

The Final Menu:

Mojito Jello Shots (thank to greenish for the idea and topophilia for a link to the ratios needed to make them from scratch)

Vegan Tapenade Pinwheels (thanks divined by radio and frowner)

Pepperoni Pizza Pinwheels

Vegetarian Mini Cupcake-Sized Shepherd's Pies

Blueberry Crumb Bar Cookies (thanks again topophilia)

Cheesecake Brownies

Vegan Gingersnaps

I also have friends bringing gluten free chex mix, vegan chocolate chip cookies, vegan oatmeal cookies, buttery chocolate chip cookies, and probably some other stuff. Thanks for your help, guys!
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:08 PM on May 29, 2014

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