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An amazing recipe for a good cause, please...

There will be a benefit in our town next week for a family that lost their entire house and contents to a fire. They have young children so it means a lot to me to contribute something that could get them one tiny step closer to rebuilding their lives. I promised to bake a few things for a silent auction. Can you help me decide on something that will encourage people to spend a little more? It's the time of year that baked goods can either be passed right by (because, even in mid December, a lot of us are sick of indulging already), or could really be appreciated by someone who doesn't have time or desire to cook. Thank you!

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  1. these are quick and easy to make - and when you slice them up - look like a bigger deal than you know they are - from the famous Canadian recipe books called "best of bridge" - almond florentines - i suggest you use parchment in your cookie sheet, then layer in the crackers, almonds and syrup etc.
    http://www.food.com/recipe/almond-flo...

    1. Speaking for myself, if I attend an auction in which food is part of the donations to raise money, I would be looking for something interesting or out of the box to bid on...something to catch my attention. Now, that being said, I'm a chocoholic so I'm a bit partial BUT there are quite a few recipes for cakes that i would definately bid on. Heres a few: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/201...

      http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/201...

      Or, for the non chocoholic:

      http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/199...

      http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/201...

      Here's your outside of the box cake:

      http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/200...

      1. How about homemade caramels or fudge? Both are very easy and versatile. Kids and adults love them and it's unexpected. You can cut them in any size or shape.

        11 Replies
        1. re: HillJ

          Great idea. I found a recipe a few years back for caramels that were delicious but way too soft to cut in a pretty way. Since they were for our own family, it didn't matter but I've never repeated the recipe because I hate to not present a product well. I might resurface this one to see what I did wrong.

          1. re: kmlmgm

            Another idea for caramels is this recipe I've followed in the past:

            http://www.bhg.com/recipe/candy/honey...

            and then use them to make Caramellows:

            http://www.bhg.com/recipe/candy/caram...

            I found the caramel to be too soft as well on it's own, but dipped in chocolate with the marshmallow worked well....any spot not covered with chocolate will try & ooze out tho....

            1. re: kmlmgm

              I have recipes for apple cider, pumpkin and pomegranate caramels that are super simple stove top and chill recipes. But I'm not sure how many caramels you are looking to make....if you were to..

              1. re: HillJ

                Actually, I'd be interested if you posted them!

                1. re: HillJ

                  I'd love to see a recipe for the apple cider and pomegranate caramels if it's not too much trouble

                  1. re: limoen

                    Enjoy jens & limoen!

                    http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/1...
                    apple cider caramels
                    (these are amazing!

                    )

                    http://www.food52.com/recipes/7115_sa...
                    pumpkin caramels
                    (note: don't skip the seed topping, really makes the difference

                    )

                    http://prettypeasrecipes.blogspot.com...
                    pomm caramels
                    (note: I used pom molasses straight from the bottle-bought at the Indian market)

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Thank you Hill!! Always looking for something new to try for the holidays....

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Thank you! I also have access to pomegranate molasses so this will be simple.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Thank you for these recipes, I am definitely going to do a caramel samper tin.

                          1. re: kmlmgm

                            You are very welcome and good luck to you and your community!

                2. Croquembouche and/or a Buche de Noel. Julia Child and Martha Stewart have recipes, among others. If you're not up to those, profiteroles on a platter.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: greygarious

                    I've made Croquembouche (Martha's, to be specific) several times, & it's definitely not suitable for a silent auction. Needs to be assembled & served asap thanks to the cream-puff filling AND the spun sugar exterior. Cannot even be held in refrigeration. "Not up to those" isn't even a factor. I wouldn't have sold one of mine for less than $100, & good luck getting that at a silent auction where the product is quickly declining in quality while the auction is going on.

                    Even profiteroles won't make it through an auction unless they're filled with a stable butter cream as opposed to the much more wonderful whipped-cream based fillings.

                    How about "adult" offerings - like thoroughly rum & brandy soaked fruitcake bar cookies? Or liqueur laced brownies?

                  2. I don't see how you could possibly go wrong with a big chocolate layer cake with fudge frosting. Novelty stuff is fun, but somebody with a family of kids at home is likely to go for the familiar.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Querencia

                      I agree. My plan is to do a few treats that are "out of the box", because I think there are going to be some stellar non food items donated to the auction. But, I have my favorite brownie recipe and choc chip cookies to contribute as well, because it makes sense that some people want famiiarity, too.

                      1. re: kmlmgm

                        For familiarity with a twist, try Dorie Greenspan's chipster topped brownies --chocolate chip cookie dough over brownie batter.

                    2. I always reckon Florentines are the most attractive baked goods at this time of year. Colourful and tasty - and there are few people who can resist chocolate.
                      http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/ty...

                      1. I would vote for a good pie. Apple seems ordinary but it's also very popular. Would it be possible to sell a frozen unbaked pie with baking directions?
                        I think a good muffin would also be popular. That's something somebody can put in the freezer for later. We're enjoying cranberry muffins right now. Choose a recipe that contains part whole wheat flour and make sure that's noted on the title card.
                        I'm trying to perfect a recipe for Shaker squash rolls. A good, somewhat unusual roll would also be popular and can be put in the freezer - something to serve with after holiday soups or with holiday meals.

                        You are a good person to do this. I hope the auction is a great success. Hope they put a jar out for donations. Some people will also put money in the jar.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: dfrostnh

                          This community is amazing. The same that rallied for our family a few months ago after they found out our then 4 year old boy had cancer. I am happy to have a chance to give a tiny, tiny bit back. I have no doubt that even though we are an economically challenged demographic, we will all empty our pockets to help this family. They are some of the most kind hearted, down to earth people, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to help, I just want to give my best effort, which, at the moment, is baking.

                          1. re: kmlmgm

                            You made my eyes well up. Blessings to that family and to you.

                            1. re: pine time

                              My eyes are pretty damp as well. More blessing wished to you and your family, and to the displaced folks.

                              People always ask for the recipe when I make Joanne Chang's Raspberry Crumb Bars. They are incredibly buttery and tender. Really a perfect square.

                              http://thecaffeinatedkitchen.blogspot...

                              And recently, Paula Deen's Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars were a big hit, as were Kelsey Nixon's Carmelitas, which are an oat shortbread topped with pecans, chocolate chips, homemade salted caramel sauce and streusel. Yum.

                              http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

                              http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recip...

                              1. re: bear

                                Thank you. I have bought and used more tissues this year than ever. There has been both tremendous sadness and unexpected joy, both things make my eyes spill buckets. We are lucky in ways we never knew.

                                1. re: kmlmgm

                                  "We are lucky in ways we never knew"

                                  Sigh: aren't we all?

                        2. Something that can also be used as a gift--eg. chocolate covered spoons and some instant coffee or hot chocolate. Truffle balls to use as hot chocolate. Smaller nicely packaged quick breads. These are things that can be given to teachers, mail people, people you don't know that well. I also think packaging is as important as the baked good.

                          The other thought would be a gift certificate for a baked good per month or 6 birthday cakes over the year or breakfast delivery on certain days.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chowser

                            What a coincidence, I found this idea last night : http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/1..., and was thinking it would be a cute teacher's gift, but maybe I'll do some for the benefit, too.

                            1. re: kmlmgm

                              Yes, just like those. The danger is that they're so decadently good that they don't always make it into hot chocolate.

                              If you want an amazing cake, look for the lemon curd mascarpone layer cake on epicurious. Just the name makes people drool.

                          2. If you know your auction audience you're ahead already.
                            Maybe something like penuche, in the spirit of "everything old is new again"
                            http://www.marthastewart.com/345367/p...
                            this recipe has worked every time for me. If you're familiar with using a candy thermometer, etc. it would be helpful (sounds like you are.
                            )I think lemon bars sell well, maybe grapefruit bars would boost interest? Meringue mushrooms?
                            These muffins really knock me out
                            http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/do...
                            Good luck!

                            1. Does it have to be sweet? Here's a recent thread on savory "cocktail cookies" that might give you some ideas.

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/822592

                              Cheese straws are great with soup. I've made savory madeleines, walnut or pecan and blue cheese rounds with a nut piece on top, the standard cheddar cracker dough made into hearts with a cookie press.

                              What about dog biscuits? Dog owners love to treat their 4-legged kids as well as the 2-legged.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: nemo

                                I was just going to post dog biscuits! People with pets tend to spend a lot for something special. Our town just had it annual holiday fair where local vendors come and sell their stuff. The two longest lines were at a chocolate company selling speciality candy-think rosemary caramels, olive oil and sea salt fudge and at the speciality dog company. They were selling bags of homemade dog bones, biscuits and cookies. Each bag ran anywhere from $6 to $12 and most people bought 2-3 each.

                              2. How about homemade marshmallows? Easy & inexpensive to make; can be made in several flavors &/or dipped in chocolate, & since they're homemade & infinitely more delicious, can be eaten as is, or sold as additions to hot cocoa. In fact, could be sold in small packages alongside hot cocoa mixes.

                                Handmade marshmallows by themselves go for 5 for $4 around here.

                                1. How good are you at decorating cookies? I think some beautifully decorated cookies would fetch some money.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    The only problem with "beautifully decorated" cookies, is that they often taste like crap. (Not that your's do). That's because recipes calling for & suitable for heavy-duty fancy decorations tend to sacrifice flavor, crumb, & tenderness for the sturdiness to hold the decorations.

                                    Have to say that I ALWAYS steer clear of "beautifully decorated" cookies at bake sales.

                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      I dunno I always thought mine tasted pretty good :) I do both gingerbread and sugar cookies, I actually think the gingerbread have more "wow" appeal because of the contrast in colors. I also would get some very good ones from a bakery when I lived in Chicago (Sweet Mandy B's).

                                      But, I see your point, many of them are NOT good.

                                      1. re: Bacardi1

                                        My kids, who are 7 and 5, made the observation this week after a birthday party at which the mother had bougth and served a beautiful bakery cake..."Mom. home made stuff tastes so much better than the pretty cakes you can buy". I've always thought this to usually be true, but I was impressed that it registered with them.

                                    2. Biscotti or madeleines come to mind as easy and giftable, especially biscotti. You and your community rock.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. I just did a bake sale at work for the CFC. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the biggest sellers we had were the giant rice krispie treats I made and big slices of a three layer chocolate cake. I use the Hershey Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe on the back of the cocoa container. I make it a three layer cake so I can keep a layer for myself.

                                        1. Something a little different that always disappears when I make them are Chrusciki, polish/lithuanian fried dough shaped like bow ties/angel wings. Some effort goes into making them, but they're light and festive. They also hold up well. Just hold off on sprkinling with the powdered sugar until the last moment. This keeps them from becoming a little "heavy". Here's a link to a good recipe with directions.

                                          http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/poli...

                                          Another idea, rainbow cake. White or chocolate frosting, round or loaf. Always brings smiles.

                                          One more. If you have access to a fancy bundt pan, like nordicware's holiday tree bundt pan, then a simple yellow or chocolate cake simply dusted with powdered sugar. I've seen several local markets selling these cakes for a pretty penny.

                                          And finally, a yule log.

                                          1. For this time of year, how about gingerbread houses and buche de noel? They're things people enjoy but might not have the time to make.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: chowser

                                              How about gingerbread boys, girls, dogs & cats with a simple decoration. Much easier and less time consuming than a house.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                I was thinking that a house might bring in more money because it's a decoration, too. And, it's impressive. People can and do make their own gingerbread creatures more than their own houses. I've actually never seen an auction for baked goods so don't know what sells and for how much. It seems that eye catching might be more likely to bring in more money? Or something w/ a good description? But, a few dozen cookies, packaged in 6-12, might make more than one house and take less time. I'm just debating now w/ myself.:-)

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  A house takes a ton of time to garner $$$ but a gingerbread basket filled with gingerbread cookies is novel, easier to pull together time wise and could fetch more money than it costs to create.

                                                  For folks like us who bake maybe not impressive...but for folks who would never make their own gingerbread cookies.....

                                            2. I've had very good luck auctioning off pre-measured sets to bake later - I use mason jars and pre measure flour, sugar etc, add a vanilla bean (or a bottle of vanilla extract) chocolate or butterscotch chips etc. That way it can be used at the purchaser's convenience. Don't forget to include instructions. I've also done this with sugar cookie recipes and included small amounts of fancy sprinkles and colored sugar for decorating.

                                              1. From an old retired duffer.

                                                How about caramal rolls. Good ones are hard to find, but my generation reveres good ones. Sticky, cinnabon pull aparts are a plus.

                                                Thinking of you.

                                                AZGrandpa