Monday, January 3, 2011

You think you do a lot of holiday baking? Consider Nancy Storey. “I make dough for 27 kinds of cookies and various friends help me complete the work,” she said. These aren’t just any old cookies, either.

“I enjoy fussing with challenging cookies, trying to make each type special,” Storey said. “People really like biscotti, ruskies, snowflakes, bonbons — really, pretty much everything. There are enough favorites to keep me busy.”

That she does. She was involved in helping whip up 553 dozen cookies for the bazaar at her church, First United Methodist in Holland, earlier this season. More than 6,000 cookies were sold in all. “That excites me and keeps me going,” she said.

Windmill cookies have a local edge

Mary Jo Wiswedel, of Holland, baked for the Kerstmarkt, a holiday marketplace that operated in Holland on select dates through Dec. 12, highlighting recipes that feature the Dutch heritage of so many in the region. She also attends First United Methodist, which sponsored booths at the Kerstmarkt. All proceeds went to support local, national and international missions.

“For the Kerstmarkt, I make Speculaas (Windmill Cookies), Nederlandse Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cake), Chocolade Koeke (Chocolate Brownie) and new this year was the Krakelingen (not really translatable, but a lightly orange-flavored shortbread in the shape of a figure 8),” Wiswedel said. Her personal favorites might be the Speculaas.

“They may look like a gingerbread cookie, but the recipe calls for a mixture of spices — allspice, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom,” she said. “In the Netherlands, they actually have a spice called ‘Speculaas Spices’ in the grocery stores with this mixture ... we use the windmill cookie cutter for this one, too, and outline it with melted white chocolate.”

As a child, Wiswedel said she didn’t grow up with many traditional Dutch recipes, even though her grandmother’s family came from the Netherlands. She acquired familiarity with them working at the Convention & Visitors Bureau and because of her church’s involvement with Tulip Time. No, Wiswedel grew up on sugar cookies at the holidays.

“Our traditional family cookie-making event was/is always making my Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Recipe, and of course, decorating all of the different shapes,” said Wiswedel, who said she has about 50 different cookie cutters, many from her childhood. “We always made way too many cookies and were very tired at the end of the day, but it was always fun to look for new cookie cutters throughout the year and watch how the children, each year, got better and better at creating them.”

Fresh local flour is a key ingredient
Alisa Crawford, of Holland, bakes six to eight cookie varieties each season. She lists among her favorites chocolate chip cookies made with flour she produces at the DeZwaan Windmill on Windmill Island in Holland.
“My son tells me every time I make them that they are the best,” she said.  Another family holiday must-have are Holly Wreath Cookies made with corn flakes. “My grandmothers on both sides used to make it at the holidays, then my mother, and now my sisters and I make them with our children,” Crawford said. “They are colorful and fun to eat or give.” Crawford also makes her own version of a Windmill Cookie out of her grandmother’s old recipe for sugar cookies.

“I tweaked it to work with flour from the windmill,” she said. “After I roll them out on my pastry board, I cut them out in windmill shapes with my windmill cookie cutter. They are fun to decorate with colors on the mill and the blades.”

Bake sale favorites

Mary Hamman and Margaret Karpus are among the hundreds of area residents who bake for the myriad holiday bazaars and sales that started back in November and continue into December. They shared some of the recipes they have made for the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School December bake sale in Greenville (recipes follow below).

Hamman said parent volunteers and students made up to 100 dozen cookies for this year’s bazaar, held earlier this month.

CANDY CANE COOKIES  (from Mary Hamman)
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. margarine
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt

1/2 c. crushed peppermint candy
1/2 c. sugar

Mix together shortening, margarine, confectioner’s sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Gradually mix in flour and salt.
Divide dough in half and mix red food coloring in one-half of the dough. Make 4-inch ropes of each dough and twist the two strands together.
Place on ungreased cookie sheets, curving one end of the twisted rope to look like a candy cane. Bake at 375 degrees for about nine minutes. Remove and sprinkle with mixture of crushed candy and sugar.

(from Margaret Karpus)
1 20-oz. package Oreos, crushed
8 oz. cream cheese
15 oz. white chocolate
Dark chocolate

Blend together crushed Oreos and cream cheese. Roll into balls and cover. Refrigerate for one hour.
Melt white chocolate and dip the Oreo balls into the melted chocolate. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate.

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