If you’re looking for a $16 pastry, your local bakery may not be the best bet. A government conference might be.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle were aghast Tuesday after a Justice Department audit found “wasteful or extravagant spending” at agency conferences, including $16 muffins and nearly $10 cookies served to attendees.

Area bakery employees, who make a living serving up sweets that cost far less, were befuddled at the prices, too.

At Sticky Fingers, a vegan bakery in Columbia Heights, shoppers can nosh on dairy- and egg-free muffins for about a quarter of the price of their costlier peers, even with the added costs of specialty ingredients.

“Even with a [20 percent] catering charge added on, you wouldn’t be paying more than $5 for a piece,” said Ben Adams, general manager at Sticky Fingers.

The Justice Department audit notes that the elite hotels that hosted the conferences routinely tacked on service charges of around 20 percent.

Bakeries’ prices for cupcakes — a D.C. staple — also fell far short of the cost that the government paid for sweets at its conferences. Shoppers can expect to pay $2 and $4 per cupcake, depending on the shop.

At Hello Cupcake near Dupont Circle, most flavors cost $3.25 each. Add on a quarter for seasonal flavors, which are only on sale for a month, employee Rachel Rossi said.

A half-dozen sweets from Georgetown Cupcake come in at $15, still less than a single muffin from the Justice Department’s tab.

Even specialty allergen-free cupcakes with satin ribbons at the base cost $3.50 each at Free For All Cupcakes, a home bakery in Fairfax that creates its sweets in a kitchen free of nuts or tree nuts.

Owner Jeanny Lee said she couldn’t even think of what would go into a $10 cookie or a $16 muffin. The audit did give her one idea, though.

“The next time my customers complain about my prices, I’m going to direct them to that study,” she said.

You tell us: Give us your recipe for what you consider a $16 muffin. Leave a note in the comments below.

Video: Audit finds DOJ pays big bucks for snacks

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Justice Dept. audit finds ‘wasteful’ and extravagant spending

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