'Tis the season for cookies! And what better way to get delicious home-baked sweets than by donating to a good cause? This Saturday, December 14, from 2-4pm, stop by the Cookies for Kids' Cancer Bake Sale at 18 Reasons in San Francisco and help raise money to support pediatric cancer research.
Local authors and publishing-world professionals Leslie Jonath and Kim Laidlaw are the organizers of this year's event. Jonath baked purple-sprinkled butter cookies for last year's bake sale and wrote about her experience on her blog, Feed Your People. As Jonath told Bay Area Bites, "The act of creating something for someone else, with this intention in mind--you feel like you're part of something bigger, like you have some small, sweet part of this community." Or, as she wrote in the introduction to From Our House to Yours: Comfort Food to Give and Share, a fund-raising cookbook for Meals on Wheels, "When the going gets tough, the tough get cooking."
This year, to encourage families to attend, they'll have face painters on hand as well as a decorate-your-own table filled with icings, sprinkles, and sugar cookie cutouts in all shapes and sizes.
Jonath and Laidlaw are gathering a sparkly, sugar-dusted spread worthy of The Nutcracker's Kingdom of Sweets. Accomplished home bakers, local cookbook authors, and Bay Area bakeries including Napa's Model Bakery, Knead Patisserie and The Mill in San Francisco, and Oakland's Sweet Bar Bakery will all be donating their favorite treats to support this cause. And there will be more than just cookies: look for brownies, cupcakes, candies, caramels, and maybe even cake pops, all packaged in see-through cellophane bags for easy carrying, snacking, or gifting.
All purchases are by donation, and this month, corporate sponsor Glad will be matching all funds (up to $25,000), turning a $5 bag of cookies into a $10 donation.
Cookies for Kids' Cancer got started in 2007, when 2-year-old Liam Witt was diagnosed with cancer. The following year, his mother, Gretchen Witt, organized 250 volunteers to bake close to 100,000 cookies, raising $400,000 to support cancer research. Liam died in 2011 at age 6, but the Witts' non-profit foundation continues on its mission. Anyone can put together a fund-raising bake sale; to date, over $5 million in research grants have been raised by the foundation via its cookie sales and bake sales run by its many volunteers.
As one of this Saturday's many enthusiastic bakers, I haven't decided yet what kind of cookie I'll be making: Kim Laidlaw's excellent Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (recipe below), or my own Chocolate Mint Cookies? Perhaps Megan Gordon's dark chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies will fit the bill.
Whichever one I make, they'll be labelled Emma's Cookies, in honor of Emma, a beautiful young girl who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2010. Her story has a happy ending: final chemo in June 2012, pronounced cured in June 2013. Emma, who is pictured here both during and after treatment, is a survivor, and a reminder that every one of these cookies can, in a small way, help to save another kid's life. And that's the sweetest treat I know.
Recipe: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Home-Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw (2011).
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies
- 4 oz (125 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 tbsp (3 oz⁄90 g) unsalted butter
- 1 1⁄2 cups (7 1⁄2 oz⁄235 g) all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 cup (1 1⁄2 oz⁄45 g) natural cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1⁄2 cups (12 oz⁄375 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (5 oz⁄150 g) mini semisweet chocolate chips
- 1⁄2 cup (2 oz⁄60 g) confectioners’ sugar
1. Place the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over very low heat and stir until melted. Don’t walk away—you don’t want the chocolate to burn. Let cool slightly. In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla on high speed until thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture on low speed, then add the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough until it is firm enough to roll into balls, about 2 hours.
3. Space 2 racks evenly in the oven and preheat to 325°F (165°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl.
4. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, then roll each in the confectioners’ sugar. Place the balls on the prepared pans, spacing them slightly apart and squishing them down slightly to flatten them and keep them in place.
5. Bake until the cookies are puffed and crinkled, about 15 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.