Be on time if you want a vanilla bean cookie.
They’re a perennial favorite at the Bradley United Methodist Church cookie walk, where they can sell out in as little as 15 minutes.
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Buyers also can choose from toffee, fudge, decorated cookies, Mexican wedding cakes and more. But extra bakers for the event plan to attempt the popular vanilla bean cookies this year to boost the supply. Barbara Terry is one of them.
“They really go big,” said Terry, president of the United Methodist Women group at the church. “They take a while to make, and not too many women have time to do it.”
Bradley’s cookie walk is part of the women’s group’s annual bazaar, which annually raises $700 or more for the group’s Christmas missions — donations to area organizations, among them Hancock Hope House and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hancock County. It’s one of several such cookie events going on in the area this time of year, transforming baking into benevolence.
New Palestine United Methodist Church also has a United Methodist Women’s group, and it, too, has a cookie event that raises money for missions, from the local to the international levels. The focus is on ministries benefitting women and children.
At Gateway Community Church in Oaklandon, the $1,200 raised at last year’s cookie walk went to a missions committee, with half of the funds going to support the Sharing Place food pantry. Cookie walk organizer Susan Chamberlain said she’s used money from the event to buy milk and eggs for food pantry clients. This year, the church’s website says cookie sales will benefit a church playground.
Gateway’s cookie walk began three years ago and is in full stride, averaging 30 bakers who each make 12 dozen cookies. Containers and gloves are provided for shoppers, who fill their containers and pay by the pound.
“We have lots of favorite cookies because we have some fabulous bakers,” Chamberlain wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter. “Our decorated cutouts are beautiful, we have 7-layer, huge oatmeal raisin, and my grandmother’s gingerbread boys from a 100-year-old recipe she used. The best gingerbread cookies ever.”
Jennifer Cochrane also relies on a tried-and-true recipe for Walnut Ridge Friends Church’s Cookie Counter at the annual church bazaar. For years, she’s been making Heath Bar Cookies for the event, which takes place in the Carthage Community Center.
Each year, the church missions committee decides how to donate the $2,000-$3,000 the bazaar raises. Over the years, funds from the event have supported a local food pantry, child sponsorship, Grundy Mission in Tennessee and a Quaker boys school in Belize.
“They try to spread it around,” Cochrane said.
Spreading around is a good concept for the cookies themselves, too, she said; the bazaar is a great chance for bakers, particularly those with grown children, to keep on making their favorites for others to enjoy.
“We all have our favorite thing that we make for the holidays,” she said. “We can make it again and give it away, and it’s wonderful.”
This recipe belonged to the late Katherine Brosier, a longtime member of New Palestine United Methodist Church, whose kitchen is named for her.
Jennifer Cochrane likes to make these for the Cookie Counter, a feature of the annual Christmas Bazaar at Walnut Ridge Friends Church in Carthage. “They freeze nicely,” she said, “and everyone will think you are Betty Crocker.”
Saltine crackers (approximately 40 single crackers, or enough to line a jelly roll pan)
2 sticks salted butter
1 cup light brown sugar (you can use dark brown, but it tends to burn more easily)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces milk chocolate chips (or darker)
chopped nuts, sprinkles, or a tablespoon of white chips melted with a little oil
Line a jelly roll pan with foil and place saltine crackers side by side until you cover the entire surface. Break some if you have to, to reach the edge.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt together in saucepan the butter and the sugar.
Bring to a boil and boil one minute (keep stirring, and it will be rather frothy-looking when it is really boiling.
After one minute ONLY, remove from heat and add baking soda and stir like crazy until you see that the mixture becomes lighter and frothier.
Pour mixture on crackers and spread it evenly with a knife or an offset spatula. (It will even out in the oven.)
Put into heated oven and bake for 9 minutes. Check for burning. If you see spots that are becoming darker, take it out of the oven.
Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of hot mixture and let sit until you see they are starting to melt. Then spread the chocolate with an offset spatula until you cover the crackers. Add sprinkles or nuts to taste.
Put pan in a cool place until everything hardens.
Then, if you want to, melt the white chips with a little shortening and stir. Drizzle strands of white chocolate over the dark chocolate, and it will look and taste pretty cool. Cool again.
Peel foil off the back of the cracker sheet and break into pieces.
-Bradley United Methodist Church’s cookie walk and bazaar run from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 17 at the church, 210 W. Main St.
Information: 317-462-2662 or bradleyumc.org.
-Gateway Community Church’s cookie walk runs from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 3 at the church, 7551 Oaklandon Road, Indianapolis. Information: 317-823-0123 or gatewayindy.org
-New Palestine United Methodist Church’s cookie walk runs from 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 10 at the church, 3565 S. County Road 500W. Santa will arrive at 9 a.m. and pose for photos with children and pets. Cookies will be sold for $6 a pound. Shoppers can also buy coffee, tea and milk. Information: 317-861-4390 or npumc.com.
-The Walnut Ridge Friends’ annual Christmas Bazaar runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Carthage Community Center on Main Street in Carthage, in conjunction with A Holly Jolly Carthage Christmas, sponsored by the Future of Carthage Committee.
The bazaar will feature homemade pies and other bakery goods, caramel corn, Christmas décor, new and gently used gift items; home décor; great craft items, locally-made jams and jellies, and the Cookie Counter, with cookies and candies sold by the pound. All proceeds will go to support missions projects designated by the church.
Shoppers can also enjoy a slice of pie and coffee/beverage during the shopping times. For information, call Davina Starke at 765-561-0927.
After the Bazaar, the FOC committee will sponsor A Holly Jolly Carthage Christmas from 4 to 7 p.m. Children can bring a non-glass ornament to decorate the tree, write and mail a letter to Santa, and sing karaoke Christmas tunes in the Community Center. After Santa arrives at 6 p.m., kids can talk to Santa in the gazebo in Veterans Park. Everyone is welcome to enjoy a free soup supper in the Community Center, to bring canned goods for the Community Church food pantry, enter the Ugly Sweater and Santa Lookalike Contests, take a hayride around town, and see the tree lighting ceremony at dusk. For further information, call Kathy Gibson at 765-565-6798 or see the Future of Carthage Facebook page.