First, I'm not a super baker and can get stressed when they have to be "perfect." I was asked to help out at a charity thing and I need to make about 150 cupcakes (regular sized - not mini) so I think that will be about 7 boxes of cake mix and will give me some extras for any mistakes. Between the mixes, frosting and cupcake liners, I'm thinking it will cost me around $18-20.
I'm picking cupcakes because it seems easiest to me, but does anyone have any suggestions for dessert bars or something similar that is easy to make, travels well and doesn't have expensive ingredients? They don't want cakes or pies. Thanks (will also cross post to the food section).
Dessert bars would be easier because you wouldn't have to frost them. Frosting 150 cupcakes sounds like a real pain to me. And with how popular cupcakes with fancy decorations have become, I'd find making them look nice to be additionally stressful. Then, there is the issue of transporting them without messing them up...
Is this a holiday or themed event? Are cookies an option?
I don't know what the guidelines are, is it a bake sale? Another thought is chocolate-dipped pretzel rods. Just buy a bunch of the large pretzel rods, dip them in melted chocolate... you could roll them in chopped nuts or sprinkles if you want to get a little fancy.
Brownies, Blondies, Rice Krispie Treats. You can't get much easier than brownies from a box mix, although Rice Krispie treats are super easy, too, and no oven involved. You just melt the marshmallows and butter on the stovetop. It can be a little messy, but not really hard. You'd need to do several batches. I successfully doubled the recipe, but more than that and I think it would be too messy.
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
Have you considered a ganache type frosting instead of regular frosting. Just melted cream and chocolate? They look fancier and are easy to frost (dip and then dip again) and depending on your cost of ingredients can be cheaper. They certainly look fancier than regular and are much lower in sugar. Here is a sample recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/double-dark-chocolate-cupcakes-with-peanut-butter-filling for ganache. The ingredients specified with frost more like 36 or more cupcakes.
If you happen to use the recipe instead underbake them slightly. The 20 minutes states is a bit much, at least in our oven.
It sounds weird, but melting a little paraffin wax into chocolate makes it harder and glossier. Maybe that would help with decorating and transporting the ganached things?
Brownie or lemon bars might be easier than icing cupcakes... http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/category/recipes/dessert/cookies
My favorite topping for chocolate cups cakes is a white chocolate cream. This is enough for about 10 b cupcakes but its easy to increase the batch;
Melt 2 ounces white chocolate chips into 3 ounces heavy whipping cream on stove/medium heat. And a few drops peppermint extract. Cool in fridge for 1-2 hours, or longer. Beat with hand mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. You can add a drop of green or red food coloring to make them pretty. Then I just spoon a little on each cupcake, doesn't need to be spreaded because the cream has some body.