Cookie monsters throughout the Ohio Valley are filling their glasses of milk in preparation for this year's Cookie Caper.
Every year, the Cookie Caper, organized by Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center in Wheeling, helps bring homemade holiday treats to residents of the Ohio Valley by offering boxes and tins of cookies for sale just in time to share during the Christmas holidays.
More than 100 volunteers, including several church, school and civic groups, bake and donate the cookies, which are then assembled into assortments available in boxes of three dozen or decorative tins of two dozen.
Photos by Betsy Bethel
From left, “cookie monsters” ready for the Easter Seals Cookie Caper are, from left, Matthew Bench, 4; Helen Heusel, 4; Katie Fedorke, 3; Lucie Fedorke, 3; Jess Puglisi-Sanders of Easter Seals; and Merrick Graves, 3.
Proceeds benefit Easter Seals, a nonprofit facility that serves children with developmental delays and disabilities in Brooke, Hancock, Tyler, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties in West Virginia and Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson and Harrison counties in Ohio.
"Cookie Caper is a fantastic multi-faceted event. It's a unique service opportunity for families and groups. It fills a need for those looking for help with holiday baking and helps Easter Seals further its mission of creating solutions that change lives - everyone benefits," said Jess Puglisi-Sanders, Easter Seals community relations director.
"This is my favorite event," she added. "People are usually baking anyway. They can get their kids involved and do something that benefits other children in the community."
Easter Seals' goal is for 2,000 dozen cookies to be donated. Anyone interested in baking may call 304-242-1390 to sign up.
Orders must be made in advance, with pickup taking place on Dec. 9 at Christ United Methodist Church at Washington Avenue and National Road in Wheeling. To order, call 304-242-1390.
Here are some cookie recipes, two of which are provided by The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register employees, to bolster the baking spirit.
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Peanut Butter Blossoms
36 Hershey's Kisses
1 pouch peanut butter cookie mix
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Stir cookie mix, oil, water, and egg in a medium bowl until soft dough forms. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
For more recipes, tips and ideas for hosting a cookie exchange, visit www.FavoriteCookies.com.
Recipe from ARAcontent/Hershey
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2 cups flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat butter until fluffy. Beat in sugars and vanilla. Add flour a little at a time, kneading the last bit of flour into dough ball by hand. Dough will be soft but not sticky (add flour if necessary). Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Divide dough in half; place other half back in refrigerator while you work. Roll dough out about 1/4-inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into desired shapes (dough falls apart easily so large shapes are not recommended).
Transfer to baking stone or cookie sheet. Sprinkle sugar on top and press slightly into dough.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set but not browned.
Cool 5 minutes on sheet and carefully transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely.
Store in airtight container or freeze.
Recipe from Betsy Bethel, Life associate editor, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register
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Brownie mix (your choice of brand), plus ingredients to make brownies
Bake brownie mix in jelly roll pan, according to package directions.
Let brownies cool in pan. Cut in half vertically (you'll have one half on the right side and one half on the left side of the pan). Spread raspberry jam on top of one half. Remove the other half from pan and place on top of the half with the jam.
Cut into small squares and dust with powdered sugar. Serve in mini-muffin paper cups.
Note: Peanut butter or any jam will work.
Recipe from Phyllis Sigal, design editor, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register