I want to make them jealous

Alright kids. Next Friday we’re having a bake sale at work. I got no less than three emails about it. There’s this prevailing theory at the office that I’m some kind of Martha Stewart because I make my own clothes and understand this crazy website called Etsy. But, the truth is, I am not much of a baker. And, based on what I’ve read online, neither is Martha. But, quite frankly, I will continue to front this image as long as I can.

So, I need your help. I want to bake something that will will visually leave them in awe. Please, point me to something that will be so pretty, and so cute that people will talk about me from now until Christmas.

Yes, it’s petty and shallow — but I don’t care.

I was thinking this:

Gingerbread Snowflakes -- Martha Stewart.

Yes. I succomed and bought the 7 inch cookie cutter before it sold out in 2005. It has since been a paper weight, a Christmas ornament and lost and then found.ย This has a lot of visual appeal, but, will it make them jealous?

My other thought was some kind of incredible cupcake. People love cupcakes right?

Hi Top Cupcake from Martha Stewart


I don’t even like chocholate and I want to make this.

But, that’s the extent of my ideas. If you’ve got a sure-bet, super cute, make their jaws drop and their wallets open up baked good recipe, please, let me know.

** All images from MarthaStewart.com



  1. Don’t try the cupcakes in the picture — it’ll be really hard to make the frosting look that good and you’ll be disappointed.

    Find a recipe with lots of butter and go for taste and a simple look, much easier to pull off.

  2. If you’re looking for something really easy, but still impressive, my go-to are palmiers. All you need is puff pastry, sugar, and 15 minutes. They might not be as cute as the other options you’ve mentioned, but people will certainly think you spent hours on them.

  3. For cute, decorate the plate; for memorable, fill that cute plate with something so melt-in-their-mouths-delicious that they’ll be talking about it years down the line. I’m thinking a concoction made of bittersweet chocolate with cream and a hint of rum. Yeah, chocolate rum balls!

  4. I make truffles. I have three recipes I use all the time. The first is chocolate and peanut butter, rolled in crushed nuts for presentation. The second is chocolate toffee, which I roll and dip in chocolate. The third is coconut ice, which I tint pink, roll in balls and then dip in white chocolate so the pink shows through. I usually give these away at christmas with two of each kind wrapped in a circle of cellophane and tied with some suitably holidayish (usually red and green ribbon). The great thing about all three recipes is that they are easy, cheap, look impressive and take very little time to make. If you’re interested, I can email you the recipes when I get home.

  5. If you can find the popsicle sticks (a serious bakery supply should have them) I second the cake pops. Better yet, chocolate-covered cheesecake pops. Definitely consult Bakerella, as you need the cheesecake recipe she has there. They’re new/trendy, easy to make and who doesn’t love bite-sized cheesecake??

  6. I laughed when I read your post. I don’t have any recipe to offer, but you have my full support ๐Ÿ™‚
    and I will revert to those comments to check the links. thank you ladies ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. There is nothing worse than something that looks delectable but tastes like paste. Use the best ingredients you can, especially real butter. I vote for lemon bars with powdered sugar on top.

  8. I make biscotti when I want people to be in awe – I drizzle it with white and dark chocolate and they think it is amazing. The truth is most people don’t bake so they think any pretty baking is like MAGIC.

  9. I vote with everyone who has already posted saying that taste is more important than looks in making a lasting impression on your co-workers in the oh-so-competitive world of office bake sales.

    I would therefore stay away from Gingerbread because people are notoriously fickle about it. Some simply don’t like it at all (the weirdos!), while others (whom I would call tragically misguided) like sweet crisp gingerbread. Still others (the correct ones, I dare say) like cakey, spicy gingerbread. You cannot please them all.

    And I therefore nominate the Chocolate-Coconut-Crisped Rice Macaroon Recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts . http://www.amazon.com/Moosewood-Restaurant-Book-Desserts-Collection/dp/0517884933 . Deadly. Everyone thinks they just want one but you must sell them in packs of 3 because that’s what everyone ends up eating.

  10. I am much as you describe. I sew and love all things creative, but not at all in the kitchen. Years ago I hosted a wedding shower for a couple. Not knowing how to decorate a cake, I made a regular chocolate cake and scattered these leaf cookies over and around it as decoration.
    They were super easy. I made two stencils out of coffee can lids. The cookies were super crisp and thin. I draped them over glasses and rolling pins just as in the photo. People raved about how complicated it looked, but it was very easy.

  11. I’m with Digs. Make something simple and delicious, and bundle it to be cute. Clear cellophane bags with Martha ribbons and tags look fantastic, and give you much more leeway to create something that will TASTE fantastic inside, since it won’t have to look perfect from kitchen to work, and home to the next person’s house. As for what could go inside? It’s not Martha, but it’s EASY, far more elegant looking than it sounds and, I swear, it’s like heroin: get those little square grid pretzels. Line them up on a cookie sheet. Unwrap a Rolo for each one and balance it on top. Put the whole lineup in a 300 degree F oven for 4-6 minutes. They’ll look the same, but they’ll be squishy. Shmash a tasty pecan down on top of them, and LEAVE THEM ALONE until they cool. All much easier with parchment paper. If you want to see how elegant they can look: http://www.hostesswiththemostess.com/recipe_box/rolopretzelturtles . If you want them to taste even better, toast the pecans first. Not my recipe. White chocolate peppermint bark (the kind made on matzo) can be bagged up by your Martha hands easily, too, and never fails to impress. Not that I’ve ever made it, but I’ve been consistently impressed even though I’ve been told how easy it is many, many times. I can’t learn. I like to fit into my clothes. It’s this, basically: http://www.wearenotmartha.com/2009/04/chocolate-covered-caramelized-matzo-crunch/ Take pics, and tell us of your adventures. You can make them green. We know you can ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. The cookies are beautiful, but if you have no experience with piping icing, for get about it! From a woman who has done it, it is a lot of work and takes some skill. However, it is easy to glaze them with tinted icing in different colors, or just white and they will look lovely. You would thin a basic confectioners sugar icing to a pouring consistency or you can use a small icing spatula and ice the tops. You can also make beautiful cupcakes, icing them by dipping the tops in the icing. Or, you can make bar cookies that you carefully cut into the same sizes. I use a ruler for this. See if you can find either Rose Barenbaum’s cookie book or Maida Heater’s Cookie book. Back when I was baking non gluten free these were my favorites. Both of these have such good instructions that even a beginner can turn out gorgeous stuff. I used to give dessert parties and while you may not like chocolate, little was ever left of those desserts. Maida Heatter has a chocolate cookie that you roll into a ball and then coat with confectioners sugar. Placed on a cookie sheet these flatten when baked and the sugar creates a beautiful pattern. Gorgeous but really easy.

  13. One reference from a DC-area author that might be helpful to the quest for looks-matter bliss — Meaghan Mountford’s Cookie Sensations is a book about decorating those very beasts with some great photos!

    Her blog with info. about the book and other stuff she’s up to: http://chiccookiekits.blogspot.com

  14. Hmm…impressive desserts….We just had a supper club with the theme “Iron Chef: Pork” where every dish included pork, even dessert. I don’t know if your audience is ready for bacon dessert, because it freaks some people out, but it’s awesome. But the “French Toast & Bacon Cupcakes” that one of the girls brought were both really delicious and eye catching. The person who made them piped the white frosting all the way around the top, like in your cupcake pic and then inserted a 1 inch piece of bacon on top, like in the link below and it looked really cool. Here are the recipes she used and some tips she had, I thought they were great the way they were but she had some notes:

    I used barefootโ€™s recipe to make the bacon: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/maple-roasted-bacon-recipe/index.html
    But, a warning, I only cooked them for 20 minutes and I think I could have gotten away with 15. I think they were a little overdone. Also, I would not add maple to the frosting, but I am not a big maple fan.

    Either way good luck with the bake sale!!

  15. They’re not extraordinarily visually appealing (although you can drizzle white chocolate on top), but Rolo Cookies are miraculously freaking delicious.

    Mini cupcakes are always a hit. Just pipe the frosting on and the wow quotient goes way up. (I pipe the filling into deviled eggs with a star tip and people think they are gourmet.)

  16. Madelines are super easy, cook in 5 minutes flat and look so pretty. And my friends always think I’m a marvel to be able to produce these. I too like too keep up the illusion of culinary competence.

    I use this recipe

    and if I’m in a hurry I skip the “chill for an hour, warm for half and hour step” and they’re always a hit. I also never use the rosewater. Sometimes I add vanilla extract, other times just leave them plain. They are the most requested option at our Project Runway get-together.

    Good luck with the bake sale.

  17. Oh Cidell – I feel your pain!

    If you happen to have a cookie press – I recommend pressed butter cookies. They’re easy to make, look cute, and taste amazing. Your friends, accustomed to the bad butter cookies that come in a tin, will swoon.
    If you don’t have a press, you can get one for $25 or so – and you can also do fancy icing tricks with it . . .

    I also make the rugelah from Baking with Julia – not always so beautiful, but knee buckling in its deliciousness.

  18. I’m with Cynth. Get a cookie press! So easy, and impressive. I happen to use the recipe from Joy of Cooking. mmmm.

    E-mail me if you need it… I’ll be happy to send it over.

    Good Luck and I can’t wait to see what you decide on.


  19. Ha! I love your devious plan. Nothing like good ol’ competition to get things rolling.
    I’d say definitely do something simple. Love the gingerbread cookie idea. Anything w/ pumpkin around this time wows people too.
    Good luck!

  20. Bakerella’s cake pops are absolutely adorable! Pioneer Woman had her at her house, and she shows step by step instructions on making the ones that look like little cupcakes –i’ve made them and they were so rich and delicious and so cute!! You can get the little forms for the base at Hobby Lobby or maybe any store that has candy making supplies!
    http://www.pioneerwomancooks.com –her site is great!!

  21. I love your snowflake cookie cutter and I would go with it. I would skip the piping (because as stated by someone else, it can be a pain to look nice and stacking the cookies to bring into work is awkward without messing them up) and go with dipping the cookies in chocolate (partial cookie, not the whole thing) and then into a sprinkle of some sort to fancy it up (crushed peppermint, sprinkles, crushed up nuts, etc.)

    Good luck!

  22. Find a good carrot cake recipe with cream cheese frosting or find a good chocolate cake recipe with chocolate frosting, oooorrr a buttery butter cake with chocolate frosting. Go for delicious instead of cute. In my experience people will remember the carrot/chocolate cake that melted in their mouth and will talk about it for years to come. Trust me I know!

  23. Go for the yummy over the pretty. I make the Toll House cookie recipe, on the back of the Toll House choc chips. I use semi-sweet chocolate, real butter, real vanilla, and throw in a cup of walnuts. Do not overbake them. I had two coworkers independently request that I make them for the office Thanksgiving potluck again. Dress up with cute cellophane bags and ribbon from the party or dollar store.

  24. As others have commented on, my vote is for tasty and packaged beautifully. I just received my Dec issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine and there is a nice section on cookies — may be worth checking out. I always make the same goods every year because they are always a hit, but it is kind of boring. I make jam thumbprint cookies, ginger snaps, Mexican wedding cookies and a super amazing cranberry pound cake (can’t go wrong with equal amounts of flour and sugar and two sticks of butter). Good luck!

  25. My vote goes for palmiers….they sound and look super fancy, but they are nothing more that puff pastry and sugar. Trust me. They will do the trick. I too have a reputation to live up to and they don’t ever disappoint ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. I made those MS cookies last year and they were a HUGE hit at my office and at our holiday cocktail party. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not too difficult to make, but they are adorable and cause many people to squeal over them.

    For a non-baking item, may I suggest caramel apples? Several people thought I actually bought these, they looked so good.

    Good luck!!

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