I’ve truly entered a new phase in mommy-dom in the past week; I got to participate in my first bake sale fundraiser. These put the fun in fundraising! I was lucky enough to be able to pick the brains of some more experienced mothers at my son’s school before deciding on a course of action. This was a good thing, too, as one (okay, ME) might be tempted to make some over the top cupcakes or some such in order to show off a little. It turns out, however that simple is better for a bake sale. Items need to be individually wrapped, and this is a hard thing to do with a cupcake without making a mess. Breads, muffins, cookies, brownies and even cake slices on paper plates are much more manageable. Fortunately there are still plenty of mouth watering choices in those categories!
My favorite bar style dessert is something called a “Nordy Bar,” which is based on a dessert that used to be served in the Nordstrom’s department store coffee bar. A butterscotch based dough filled with chocolate chips, marshmallows and (optionally) nuts, Nordy Bars are easy to make and highly addictive. We were introduced to them by a friend who brought them to us after our daughter was born. At that time I had a good excuse to devour the whole plate by myself; while I would still like to do just that I must now exercise more restraint!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 2 cups butterscotch chips
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips*
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate/bittersweet chips
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows (do NOT be tempted to use the whole bag!)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
*You can also use 2 cups of semi-sweet chips in place of the four different chocolates
- In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter or margarine over medium heat. Add the butterscotch chips and brown sugar. Stir until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix thoroughly and stir in the vanilla.
- Set aside to cool to room temperature. This is the most important step! It is also the reason you don’t pre-heat the oven until halfway through the recipe…
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 13×9 inch baking pan
- Once the batter has cooled, stir in the chocolate chips, marshmallows and chopped nuts (optional.)Spread batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)f or 25 to 28 minutes. The pan may still be jiggly due to the melted marshmallows. Remove from oven and allow the bars to set overnight before cutting into squares.
Nordy bars freeze well, and are wonderful warmed in a microwave and served with ice cream. They are also a great gift to give when bringing meals to your friends. I *do* reccomend splurging for a disposable lidded tin pan at the grocery; if you cut into them, you will be tempted to nibble!
Another great bake sale item are brownies. Typical brownies can be fancied up with sprinkles on top, or cut into fun shapes using large cookie cutters. Or, if you don’t want to be typical, I highly reccomend Betty Crocker’s quick and easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies. Bakerella gives a great tutorial on how to make them. The chocolate ganache is easy to make and turns this from a mix dessert into something truly special!
Cookies are fun, too. For bake sales, either large eye-catching cookies or a selection of several smaller cookies packaged together are what seem help customers feel they are getting their money’s worth. Again, simple is best for this sort of thing. Although I love fancy decorated cookies, I rarely have time to indulge. The best alternative I have found is to shortcut the process by coloring my cookie dough and using candy writers, or prepackaged icing to add a few details. This can create the kind of fun design that children adore in a fraction of the time! By dividing my dough into two different colors I was able to make seven unique cookies designs. Black, white and red candy pens were used on the majority, but I also find some grocery store tubes of yellow and pink icing in the pantry that I put to good use.
For this bake sale I used the easiest cookie recipe on the planet: shortbread! Although shortbread is absurdly easy and only has three ingredients, the quality of those ingredients can affect the taste of your final product. In the case of a buttery cookie like this one, this means that using a better butter makes a better cookie. In side by side taste trials at our house, my husband has shown a clear preference for cookies made with Plugra unsalted butter rather than other “top shelf” brands like Kerrygold or Luprak. Experiment and find your own favorites!
Last but not least, I learned that breakfast goods are also fair game. At school sponsored events like ours, where the bake sale is the dessert bar, the people in attendance *want* to purchase things. Since ours in the evening, items for the next morning’s breakfast are just as eye-catching as dessert. Next year I may make some of Pioneer Woman’s famous Cinnamon Rolls, or perhaps Capitol Clio’s Killer Coffee cake, or even Cook’s Illustrated’s Best Banana Bread.
PS: If you came here by way of the bake sale, I hope you enjoyed your goodies and have fun making these recipes on your own! Thanks for supporting our school!