Bake sales and Valentine’s Day are a perfect match

I love a good bake sale. Bake sales are a long-standing part of our American culture, as fundraisers for schools and other organizations. Who doesn’t love picking up homemade baked goods while supporting a worthy cause?

I especially love being on the hosting side of the bake sale, creating tasty treats to sell. I thoroughly enjoy baking muffins and cookies for bake sales because that means that the muffins and cookies won’t be eaten by yours truly. Plus, it’s always a reason for me to add to my collection of bakeware, candy molds, fancy sprinkles and fun packaging.

The Fort Davis Lions Club will have a Valentine’s Day Bake Sale next Thursday, on Valentine’s Day at Porter’s Thriftway across from the Fort Davis National Historic Site. We’ll be out there from 7 a.m. to about 11 a.m. with all sorts of homemade goodies for sale. That means I’ve got less than a week to get my baked goods in line and out of the oven.

A successful bake sale has a theme, variety and easy to read labels.
The view of one of our tables from last year… we were ready before sunrise. We sold OUT!
Chocolate covered red velvet cake balls were a top seller last year.
Cake balls were a huge hit last year.

My initial plan was to bake a whole bunch of big brownies, flourless chocolate cookies, red velvet cookies, and whatever else struck my fancy while perusing through cookbooks and the internet. Various cookies, fancy cakes, sweet and savory breads, cupcakes and cookie bars are also on the Lions’ To Bake Lists. It’s going to be a terrific spread! Being a Valentine’s Day Bake Sale, all of our offerings will be wrapped in a Valentine’s Day theme and will be appropriate for gifting.

As luck would have it, a fellow Lion informed me that there was a cake pop baker and a chocolate melting machine at the Grand Companions Thrift Store here in Fort Davis, and it might be good for “someone” to use for our upcoming bake sale.

I spent less than ten seconds mentally debating whether or not this “someone” was interested in two more gizmos in the kitchen…

Did I need a cake pop baker? No, I could do it the old-fashioned way and form balls of cake with my hands, but a machine would make them perfectly round and uniform, without getting my hands all cakey.

Did I need an electric chocolate melting pot? I can melt chocolate in a double boiler on the stove, although there’s always the fear that I’ll get distracted and ruin the melting chocolate. An actual melting pot might make life that much easier when I’m making a batch of homemade chocolate, and if I’m melting chocolate for drizzling on things like cookies or strawberries. I could just turn it on and let it do what it’s designed to do.

And, I would be able to easily make cake balls dipped in chocolate for the bake sale, which benefits my favorite service organization’s mission of providing eye care for those in need and scholarships for graduating high school seniors. Graduation is just around the corner, so I really do need to make some chocolate covered cake balls for the bake sale and these two items would certainly facilitate such baking.

Within minutes, I gleefully added these two joy-sparking contraptions to my kitchen. And added cake balls to my list of things to bake for the bake sale.

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If there’s a bake sale in your future and you’re on the hosting end of it, fear not. There are a number of things that make for a successful bake sale and I’ll fill you in on a few.

Have your team sign up for specific duties: baking, pricing, working the event, and breaking down the tables when it’s over… many hands make light work. Make sure your tables are clean, neat and organized. Label every single item. Sell homemade, not store-bought items. Pick a theme for the sale – ours is on Valentine’s Day, so there will be lots of chocolate, and red and pink hearts.

Advertise your sale beforehand, whether it’s with fliers around town, an ad or press release in the paper, and through social media. And if you happen to write a weekly newspaper column about food, you can shamelessly plug your event like my good people at the Alpine Avalanche always let me do in my column 🙂

Make sure you’re having your sale in a place that gets lots of pedestrian traffic, like outside a grocery store. Let folks know who’s putting the sale on, and where the funds will go by having signage at the tables.

2019 Bake Sale Flyer

And above all else, have fun, and buy some goodies for yourself – remember, you’re supporting a good cause.

I decided to test out the cake pop baker with the recipe included from the manufacturer for Blueberry Muffin Bites. As written, I do NOT recommend it. They were adorable, but so BLAH. Blah-berry Muffin Bites was more like it. By the end of the mixing bowl, I’d added strawberries, bananas, cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate chips. It was better, but now I’ve got NINE DOZEN adorable little balls of weirdness that my husband won’t eat.

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Very first attempt at using the Nostalgia Cake Pop Maker… fingers are crossed…
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Took a peek at about 3 minutes… not quite ready. Toothpick didn’t come out clean.
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Ready at about 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
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It was so much fun! Aren’t they adorable? Now what?! Time for the real deal…
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You can’t tell, but there are three eggs in there… when using a boxed cake mix, add a box of INSTANT pudding mix that compliments the cake flavor, along with three eggs and exchange the water called for on the box with milk. I used Devil’s Food cake mix, and chocolate instant pudding. I live in a very small town where the only instant pudding mixes available are chocolate or vanilla.
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Mix it up real good.
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I used one of those pancake batter squeezy bottles for my batter at first, and by the 12th dozen batch (I am so not exaggerating), had been using two teaspoons for awhile. You learn the right amount to put in the little wells.
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See that top row? Too much. Overflow time…
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Oopsie. But, you can use scissors to trim any extras that take away from the perfection of the cake ball. And so, I trimmed. Practice makes perfect.
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And then, I heard a choir of cake pop lovin’ angels singing… PERFECTION!!!
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All said and done, I have 13 dozen of these gems. That’s not counting what I sampled, and is one regular sized box of cake mix. These little ones are ready to be frozen, and later dipped in melted chocolate. As I write this, it’s Sunday and the bake sale is Thursday. I’ll freeze them until Wednesday, when I’ll take out five at a time to coat with melted chocolate. I’ve read that it’s very important to keep them frozen for best chocolate dipping. So, Wednesday, I’ll update with more photos of the finished product. I love the Nostalgia Cake Pop Maker, in case there was any question of the joy sparkage.

Cake Balls Without a Cake Ball Machine

1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix

1 (16 ounce) container prepared chocolate frosting

1 (3 ounce) bar chocolate flavored confectioners coating

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.

Melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave, or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in your chocolate melting contraption, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the chocolate cake mixture. Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set.

Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche.

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