Cookie Walk for a cause
Posted: December 5, 2012
The Winchester Star
Winchester — When people leave the Pink Streeters’ annual Holiday Bazaar and Cookie Walk, it’s hard to predict what they’ll carry out.
It could be a plate with a dozen of the same type of cookie, but more often, it is a mixture of all kinds, each hand-selected by the buyer, said Betty Lausier, one of the founders of Pink Streeters, a Relay for Life team.
On any given year, people might find Russian tea cakes, variations of chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter balls, gingerbread snaps and various kinds of drop cookies. Lausier is testing recipes she found for Double Whammy Eggnog Cookies and apple cider cookies.
Variety is the hallmark of the event, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 22 in Market Street United Methodist Church at 131 S. Cameron St.
The Cookie Walk continues to grow because it embraces the sheer variety of holiday cookies and tempts people’s taste buds with old favorites and new creations each year, she said.
“Selecting individual cookies has been a real hit because you can go home with a plate full of 12 different kinds of cookies,” said Lausier, 71, of Clear Brook. “When you have company, you can put out a spread that looks like you have been making all kinds of cookies because you have such a variety.”
The Pink Streeters started their annual Christmas event for a cause. It began about a decade ago when several church members died of cancer in the same year. Wanting to help, several women at the church decided to start a Relay for Life team to raise money for the American Cancer Society, Lausier said.
That first year, the group made a dozen or more kinds of cookies, but the idea caught on, she said. Since then, the event has continued to grow, one year featuring 47 types of cookies.
The group has 12 active members who bake, but goods are also provided by other church members, family and friends, Lausier said. A few other items are sold at the bazaar, including breads, cakes, candy and crafts, but the Cookie Walk is the signature event.
Each person brings at least five dozen cookies, and buyers walk around and choose their favorites to make up a colorful and tasty holiday plate for $3.50 a dozen, said Joyce McKay, 70, of Winchester.
Whether people are buying cookies at the bake sale or making them at home, if they will be a gift that might be shared, having a selection to choose from can be helpful, she said.
“Not all people like the same kind. If you have different people in a house, I think it is good to have a variety,” said McKay, one of the original Pink Streeters.
Many of the Pink Streeters bake several types of cookies for that reason. Every year at Christmas, Pink Streeter Linda L. Hart, 66, of Stephenson pulls out a “Taste of Home” cookbook and leafs through it to find a new recipe to try.
Last year’s new choice was a Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprint Cookie, which she thinks she might do again for the upcoming bake sale.
While Hart usually follows a recipe closely, she tweaked the thumbprint. The original recipe called for strawberry jam, which filled a slight indentation made by pressing her thumb into the cookies.
“That didn't taste as good, so I went with raspberry and it tasted better with the chocolate,” she said.
Hart always tests a recipe before putting it in the bake sale, especially if hasn’t tried it before. This procedure not only allows her to decide if she wants to add or subtract anything from the recipe, but also lets her test the baking time.
Ovens bake at different temperatures, and Hart has learned that following the recommended oven time isn’t always best. Especially the first time, it is better to watch the cookies and even pull them out a few minutes early, because they will continue to bake.
“I pull cookies out of the oven about two to three minutes before it says, because that is how you burn cookies, especially along the bottom,” she said.
Unlike a pie or a loaf of bread, the beauty of cookies is the chance to test a batch to see the results and make adjustments for the next one, McKay said. Sometimes it is about learning what to watch.
With her Magic Cookie Bars, which contain graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut, McKay uses the coconut to gauge when the batch is done. “If the coconut gets too brown, I want to take them out of there.”
Some recipes are made so often that they become second nature. Margaret Aronhalt, who has been a Pink Streeter for three years, learned to make shortbread cookies from her mother.
Although she made them at other times, shortbread cookies were a Christmas tradition for her and her three siblings, and baking them still brings a sense of nostalgia.
“Often we would take the shortbread and roll it in a ball,” said Aronhalt, 58, of Frederick County. “We would dip the fork in water, and we would get to squash the cookies and put little sprinkles on them.”
To make them nice and cheery for the holiday, Aronhalt likes to use homemade colored sugar — combing a couple of spoonfuls of sugar with a few drops of food coloring. “Mix it with a spoon until it dries and you can sprinkle it on.”
“It just makes them a little fancier when you make your own colored sugar. It gives them a little sweeter taste,” she said.
Don’t think that cookies must be fancy to be good, though, Lausier said. Some of the best cookies have the simplest recipes. One member dips Oreos in melted chocolate, lets them harden on wax paper, and applies a little candy gingerbread man or Santa face on top to make them look festive.
Lausier often makes Mary’s Easy Chocolate Drops, a recipe originally made by another church member, Mary Morrison, who died of cancer. The recipe calls for chocolate and butterscotch chips to be melted and combined with shoestring potatoes and salted peanuts. Spoonfuls are dropped on wax paper and chilled for 15 minutes.
Another new recipe she found and has tried (much to her grandchildren’s delight) is a twist on a cookie pizza. She takes a tube of refrigerated sugar cookie dough, presses it into a large circle, and bakes it on a pizza pan at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes.
When it cools, she can spread it with a mixture of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter as the “sauce” and then add toppings, including peanut butter cups, red and green M&Ms, or other crushed candy bars.
One source Lausier uses is the Internet site Pinterest, which has become a great way to find new recipes — it has so many fun and creative ideas to try, she said.
The Pink Streeters’ annual Holiday Bazaar and Cookie Walk will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 22 in Market Street United Methodist Church at 131 S. Cameron St. in Winchester.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com