Best dorm bites

Taylor Parker

In my three semesters at Duke, there have been a few consistencies - my blockmates, my love of Bella Union’s white chocolate mochas, and baking. I started baking for my dorm-mates as soon as I got to campus last year, organizing and baking a surprise birthday cake for a girl who is now one of my best friends. I holed myself up in the smallest kitchen in my building so I could keep the surprise a secret, using any vessel I could find since I had forgotten to buy measuring cups. I recruited another friend from my building (read - sous chef) to assist me in frosting the double layer cake - half vanilla and half chocolate of course. After all, we didn’t know everyone’s favorite flavors yet! The unveiling almost didn’t happen, as the birthday girl kept walking past the fully decorated main kitchen instead of walking in, but nevertheless, once we scared her into surprise by everyone singing off-key and exploding balloons, everyone loved the cake! So, I decided to unleash the full might of my inner baker on the building. Over time, I collected recipes that became dorm favorites, and in the spirit of generosity, I wanted to share my top five with all of you. Some of them are my own creations and some are fantastic internet finds - but I highly recommend them all.

Dulce de leche cookie sandwiches

Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 1.17.33 AM.png

What you’ll need: 

The ingredients are provided on the following websites (I didn’t want to start this off with a massive list), and while most can be purchased at the Duke Store, this is definitely the most intensive ingredient list of the bunch.

Cookie recipe:

Dulce de leche recipe:


Estimated Time:

This first recipe is not for the faint of heart, as my record time was three and a half hours for completing it. My slowest time was over four and half hours, but the result is always worth it.



I don’t want to mess with perfection, and so I have linked the websites with the instructions in the ingredients list above.

With that said, I have some advice -


  1. Don’t use the store bought dulce de leche. That’s cheating. 

  2. To get the full experience, you need to use the dulce de leche recipe above, but I personally think adding the butter is unnecessary. I usually bake the sweetened condensed milk by itself, checking at the 45 minute intervals. 

  3. I also always double the recipe for the dulce de leche. While this makes it take a bit longer, the residents of Edens 1C last year were always grateful for the extra filling.

Cookie-cake cupcakes

Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 1.17.56 AM.png

What you’ll need: 

1 bag of Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (I buy mine at Target, but I’m sure they have it at Harris Teeters as well)

1 stick of butter

1 egg

1 container of your favorite frosting flavor

Some ziploc bags


Estimated time: 

30- 45 minutes. Perfect for birthdays you may or may not have forgotten. We won’t tell.



  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees. You do not want to forget to do this and have to wait for the oven to heat up later. Just set it now. 

  2. Put the cookie mix into a large bowl, and then use a smaller bowl to melt the butter in a microwave. I’ve been told a million times not to completely melt the butter for recipes, but for this one, you want to completely melt the butter! Melting the butter allows the chocolate chips to melt into the cookie dough, and long story short, you’ll thank me later. 

  3. Finally, add the egg and mix until the dough is thoroughly combined.

  4. Take a cupcake tray and fill it with cupcake tins. 

5. Using a large spoon, put one spoonful of the cookie dough in each cupcake tin. 

6. Put the cupcake tray in the oven for 20-25 minutes, taking it out when the cupcakes are barely soft on the edges. Never fear; they will harden as they cool. 

7. Let the cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes, and then frost them with whatever flavor you chose (I recommend cream cheese, it’s simply the best). I tend to use ziploc bags instead of piping bags. Filling a ziploc bag with the frosting and cutting of a corner might be messier than a normal piping bag, but it gets the job done. 

Once you’re done piping the cupcakes and probably covered in frosting, it’s time to enjoy! 

strawberry shortcake

Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 1.18.35 AM.png
Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 1.18.16 AM.png

What you’ll need:

The list of ingredients is somewhat extensive, but the gist is biscuit ingredients, strawberries, and heavy cream. You can view the full list of ingredients at the website linked here.


Estimated time: 1-1.5 hours, depending on how fast you knead dough.




Follow the instructions on the website linked above. I will say that I have my best results when I recruit a sous chef to do all of the tasks that I deem tedious (whipping the cream, chopping strawberries, etc). I highly recommend finding a competent minion and then unleashing them on the simpler tasks, leaving you to do battle with the homemade biscuits. Three more quick things.


  1. Make sure you let the butter thaw before attempting to use it. Frozen butter makes combining the dough absolutely painful.

  2. Never let the biscuits see your fear.

  3. Stick to a single layer shortcake. I included a picture of the double layer, but it is way too tall for eating without utensils (aka college-style).

reese's cake

Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 1.18.49 AM.png

What you’ll need:

1 box of chocolate cake mix (and it’s associated vegetable oil and eggs)

1 container of chocolate frosting (I usually use Betty Crocker)

About half a jar of peanut butter

At least 10 full size Reese’s or a package of the mini ones


Estimated time: About an hour.


  1. Preheat the oven!

  2. Follow the instructions on the back of the box of cake mix; you’ve got it. 

  3. Once you have the batter prepared, add approximately half of the jar of peanut butter to it and mix thoroughly. 

  4. Then, pour the batter into a cake pan. 

  5. Add about 5 full size Reese’s or 10 mini Reese’s broken into quarters to the cake batter in the pan. 

  6. Then, bake the cake for about 30 minutes.

  7. While the cake is in the oven, put the chocolate frosting in a small bowl and add approximately 2 full size Reese’s (or 4 mini Reese’s). 

  8. Microwave the frosting and Reese’s combination for about a minute, and then mix well. Repeat the process until you run out of Reese’s or you are satisfied with the flavor/texture (usually 4-5 full size Reese’s in my experience).

  9. Once the cake is done (sticking a knife in it comes out clean), put it in a fridge to cool for 10-15 minutes. 

  10. Then, take it out and frost it with the Reese’s frosting you just made. You can even toss some extra Reese’s on top as decoration, but be careful, they do tend to slide off!

oreo (slutty) brownies

Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 1.19.23 AM.png
Screen Shot 2021-11-11 at 1.19.07 AM.png

What you’ll need:

1 box of brownie mix (and its associated vegetable oil and eggs)

1 package of ready-bake cookie dough (I highly recommend the Pillsbury chocolate chip)

1 package of oreos (usually the more the better, as my friends always eat half of my oreos before I get started)


Estimated time: 30-45 minutes. Efficient but delicious.




  1. You already know. Preheat the oven (to what the mix box says)!

  2. Make the brownie batter by following the instructions on the back of the box. I believe in you. 

  3. Pour the batter into a cake or brownie pan.

  4. Then, take the pieces of cookie dough from the pre-made package, and smash them flat in your hand. Line them across the brownie batter until there is an almost continuous layer of smushed cookies across the entire pan with a small gap in between each cookie round. 

  5. Then, take the oreos and press one oreo each into the gap between the cookie rounds so that there is an alternating and slightly overlapping pattern of cookie dough and oreos (see image below).

  6. Then, bake your creation for 25-30 minutes, or until you can stick a knife into the brownies and it comes out clean. When you’re done, hopefully you’ll see that there’s a method to my madness of putting the oreos on top!