Office parties can be fun, though conjuring up a tray of treats for the occasion isn't always the most enjoyable part of the festivities. Still, that doesn't mean you need to invest a lot of time. There are plenty of quick, easy sweets you can whip up in mere minutes, between other priorities.
If you keep a cake mix or two in your kitchen cupboard, you can skip most of the measuring and go straight to cookie-making. Yellow cake, chocolate cake and spice cake mixes all make fine cookies. You'll still need the 1/3 cup of oil most mixes call for, or melted butter for a richer flavor. Add 2 eggs, a splash of vanilla, and up to 1/4 cup of sour cream. Beat these ingredients until a sticky dough forms. It'll be easier to handle if you refrigerate it for 30 minutes before you start shaping the cookies.
Bake and Go
Feel free to add some sure-fire add-ins to the mix, such as chocolate chips or nuts. Roll soft cookies in powdered sugar, or sprinkles, for a festive appearance. Preheat your Chef Collection Range to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. If you're preparing a meal at the same time, slide in the Flex Duo divider first. You can use the other half of your oven independently, at any temperature you need.
Bark and Bite
It's hard to go wrong with chocolate in almost any gathering. For an office party, you can whip up a batch of chocolate bark, with an eye-catching mixture of nuts, in just a few minutes. You can use chocolate chips, if that's what you have, but better chocolate makes better bark. Put a cup of chips or broken-up dark chocolate bar in a microwaveable measuring cup, and press the Soften/Melt button on your Chef Collection microwave. Press "1," and then "Start." Stir the chocolate and re-start the microwave when it beeps, then let the chocolate sit for 1 minute. Repeat, for as much additional chocolate as you need.
Use a flexible spatula to scoop the chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and spread it in a thin layer. Quickly, while the chocolate is soft, cover its surface liberally with your choice of nuts. Toasted pecans or almonds are good choices, or use a lightly salted nut mixture. The salty nuts and sweet chocolate complement each other beautifully. Slide the sheet pan into your Chef Collection Refrigerator, and chill it for 30 minutes or until hard. Chop or break the bark into small portions, and keep it cold until it's time to party.
Get the Ball Rolling
For a treat with a caffeine kick, espresso balls are perfect party nibbles. Pulse vanilla or chocolate cookie wafers, or leftover cake, in your food processor to make crumbs. Next, do the same with pecans, walnuts or any other nut you like. The proportions are up to you. Two parts crumbs to 1 part nuts is a good mixture, but equal arts works, too. Stir in cocoa and sugar, then enough corn syrup to hold the mixture together and to make a stiff dough. For a more intense chocolate flavor, use melted dark chocolate in place of corn syrup.
That Team Spirit
Stir in a liberal quantity of brewed coffee or espresso, to flavor your creations. The dough is sticky, so refrigerate it for 30 minutes in the coldest section of your Chef Collection Refrigerator to make it easier to handle. Scoop 1-inch balls of the dough and roll them between your palms to make them round, then roll them in the coating of your choice. Cocoa, powdered sugar, and crushed nuts are all good choices, or mix and match. To coat them in chocolate without the tedious dipping, spoon melted chocolate into the palm of your hand and roll the balls in it. It's messy, but quick...and more fun than you'll want to admit.
Photo Credits: Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media
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