help me win my company’s bake-off

I’m entering my company’s bake-off and i want your help to win! Cheating? Oh my, no — I’m not asking you to help me bake (and you’d never fit in my tiny kitchen anyway). I’m asking for recipe ideas. The bake-off has three levels: cookies, brownies, and cupcakes. If past bake-off results are any indication, the judges go for moist and preferably slightly gooey. I bake a mean Snickerdoodle, but I’m thinking it might be a little too basic to come out on top. Would our notorious “best chocolate chip cookie” recipe win, or would that be too basic as well? I believe I have my brownie recipe already chosen (I’m being cagey, but I don’t want to jinx anything by sharing it yet). So what I’m trying to say here is: what are your ultimate crowd-pleasing cookie, cupcake, and brownie recipes? If I win the bake-off, I’ll buy something cool at my local bake shop and offer it here as a giveaway — deal? — Mary T.

Those are Lisa C’s lovely amaretti cookies in the photo above. Recipe here.

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the people at work get really excited whenever I bake one of these: (the impact of saying you made cookies and then presenting a rustic cast iron pan, maybe with a cute trivet or something, will work in your favor!).

the edges get crispy like a perfect cookie, but it still retains a nice soft center. you cut it into wedges to serve. I made it this past weekend with dark chocolate chips, toasted walnuts, and dried tart cherries. I’ve also made it with chopped up almond nougat and chocolate chips. you can jazz it up with whatever you have in the house. it’s pie-meets-cookies! good luck. :)

Here’s the ultimate crowd pleaser everyone I go:
1 cup brn sugar, 1 cup butter flavor shortening (not butter), 1 cup white sugar, 2 eggs: MIX
Add: 2 cups flour, 3.5 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, .5 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla
Then add: 1 cup of organic coconut and then 1 cup of something else. Almost anything EXCEPT choc. chips. I like to use rice krispies, nuts, crushed cornflakes, any cereal. Your choice just not choc chips, for some reason they taste awful in this dough. I’m thinking dried apricots next time?
Make walnut size balls and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 min.
YUMMMMMMMM, my sons fraternity begs me to make and send them.
Good Luck!

Mary T.

Yes! Thank you, ladies! Keep the ideas coming.


These chocolate chip cookies use instant pudding mix, and they’re very moist, although not super gooey. Undercooking them somewhat helps a ton.

These chocolate peanut butter cupcakes have a delicious filling, which also happens to use instant pudding mix. No, really, I swear I am NOT Sandra Lee. I just happen to know two — AND ONLY TWO — recipes that use pudding mix.

These mini cupcakes use mascarpone cheese. The strawberry glaze is heavenly.

Good luck!


My bf is a great cookie baker and his most requested cookie is the Martha Stewart recipe for chocolate ginger cookies. My former boss and co-workers could whip through a big tin of those in a couple of days. They are even better the day after–if they last that long. The bf says if you want a moister, fudgier texture be sure to refrigerate the dough as directed.

Good luck with whatever cookie you end up making!

Megan B

I’ve only made this as a bundt, but how about Irish Whiskey cupcakes? I think I may have even made this cake for you and Dave all those years ago, the first time we had you guys over. Boozy heaven!

Or, you can always do red velvet. The recipe has won TWO showdowns now!


Looks like Megan and I have the same sort of idea – put alcohol in your cupcakes! My suggestion is for bourbon caramel cupcakes.

Vanilla cake ( I can’t recommend the classic yellow butter cake recipe from “The Cake Bible” highly enough: nice crumb, moist and just dense enough to handle a filling), filled with homemade bourbon caramel, and topped with classic vanilla buttercream frosting (the kind with egg yolks – see also “The Cake Bible”) with caramel added to it and then drizzled with more caramel!

Megan B

@ rosebengal: Ummm… YUUMMM!! Those cupcakes look amazing!

Christina S.

I recommend Nutella Sugar Sandwich Cookies ( or, my personal favorite, Reese’s Cheesecake Peanutbutter Bars (

Mary T.

Ah, geez — I just realized there’s a CAKE component too!

Mary – these are such great suggestions! let me add another to the list: Rainbow Cupcakes. These were a HUGE hit at my St. Patrick’s Day party…they are like an instant smile & good mood. Perfect for the office.

You can see photos & a recipe link here:

Good luck!


Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. I’ve made Mark Bittman’s brownies several times for friends and I always get rave reviews….which is so surprising considering how easy they are to make!
Good luck!


These are the best cookies I have ever made. Seriously, I am not a baker. I now make these (and different variations) all the time! The original style is pretty awesome though.

Combos I’ve tried:
Original (cranberry/white chocolate/pecan)
Dark chocolate/dried cherries/walnuts (I bet it would be good with pistachios, too!)
Dates and hazelnuts (no chocolate)
Triple chocolate (white/semisweet/dark)/walnuts

I want to try chopped apricots/white chocolate/hazelnuts next!

I concur with Riye…those Martha Stewart chocolate ginger cookies are HUGE hits. People can’t seem to get enough of them when I bake them and they ALWAYS ask for the recipe. One tip if you make them: don’t be discouraged by how dry the dough seems (there are no eggs in the recipe)–it will be just fine! And delicious! Good luck!

Sarah C.

This is the best post ever – I want to try ALL OF THESE THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!


I am convinced that brown butter makes everything better. These brown butter sugar cookies have gotten rave reviews from everyone who has had them. I’ve never had anything quite like them. Watch out, though, they’re seriously addictive.

Mary T.

Oh man, you guys are AMAZING!!! I will be taking photos and posting updates as we go!

Mary T.

PS It doesn’t start until May 9, so I have some time to practice before then!