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A part of our small town fabric, Hawley Winterfest seems to bring out the best in one another as locals get together to bake cookies. Be inspired by this example of community.
HAWLEY - For the last 15 years, the Cookie Walk has offered a range of homemade cookies that are likely unavailable in any nearby bakeries.
An annual Hawley Winterfest event, the Cookie Walk stemmed from a magazine article 16 years ago when funds were needed at the First Presbyterian Church. Since then, cookies of all shapes, sizes, ingredients and more have been made by dedicated parishioners who spend hours on end, following family recipes required for the gourmet cookies.
The family recipes vary, with at least one dating back 150 years when coalminers in Wales would carry the Welsh cookies in their pockets, since they couldn’t carry lunches, explained Lori Frank, the baker of the treats. The cookies are comparable to a pancake in size, and are made with a griddle and taste like a “sweet scone” said Frank. Having grown up with the treat, Frank believes they are good for breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea.
Carol Rick suggested the idea of the Cookie Walk 16 years ago, and in the first year $2,000 was raised. Since then, the success continues and each volunteer bakes dozens of a few specific kinds, with Rick baking “thumbprints” that start as a ball and are shaped with a thumb where jelly will be added.
Every year Rick said the bakers try to offer at least 25 kinds of cookies, but this year there will be 33 variations, with 250 of each available.
For those with diet restrictions, there will also be five gluten free cookies that include her “apricot chews” that have coconut, dried apricots and condensed milk. For Rick, she enjoys baking because it allows her to be creative and now, she is excited to make her springerles because of a new mold she received. Baking, Rick said is like a puzzle, as there are new recipes and some are “very intriguing.” Rick will also be making hazelnut horseshoes that she feels are special because of the “love” that goes into the cookie.
With a dozen bakers, each will make a few types of cookies, and with all of the cookies being homemade, Rick believes that is one of the reasons the walk is such a success. Many of the kinds Rick makes, have a German origin that include springerles, linzers and lebkuchen. To make the lebkuchen cookies, Rick will use honey she explained, because sugar didn’t exist when the cookies were first made in the middle ages and, the treat will include spices, nuts, a honey glaze and be decorated with almonds.
Since the walk has been ongoing for years, Rick said people do expect certain cookies, with one man purchasing several containers of cookies every year. Other people may give the cookies as gifts and some order dozens and share with family and friends.
This year, Pat Bartleson plans on sharing her baking skill by making lemon scented ginger almond crisps, along with the traditional linzer heart cookies with a raspberry jelly in the middle, which is dusted with confectioners sugar and is shaped like a heart. Although baking and readying for the walk is “a lot of hard work,” Bartleson laughed and said she enjoys taking part in the event because it’s to benefit the church she has been a member of since she was a child. Bartleson will also make peanut butter blossoms which she described as “nice and fluffy” along with Buckley shortbreads and pecan sandies, with the help of her daughter and granddaughter.
Beth Crowley will be baking a cookie that has cappuccino in it, along with ginger pecans, pizzelles and fudge. Baking the cookies, she described as “fun” since she bakes each treat one at a time, even though she will be making 250 of each kind. If time allows, Crowley would like to make Swedish rosettes because she found a special iron to make the cookies.
When she was a child, Adele Harrison recalls watching her mother bake cookies at Christmas time and from that, she believes her joy of baking derived. Harrison will make her mother’s chocolate chip toffee bars, which one woman described as “sinfully good.” The cookies she makes, Harrison acknowledged are “pretty ugly looking,” but “boy are they good.”
Since she was a child, Donna DeHart has enjoyed baking and this year, she will be sharing her sugar cookies that she said are “a lot of work,” but they are “fun” because she likes decorating them with miniature M&Ms and her homemade icing.
In addition to the cookies, there is a Victorian luncheon that follows, offering: finger sandwiches, scones, assorted quiche and desert with coffee and tea. Last year $3,000 was raised for the church with all cookies and foods being donated by church members. While the community supports the church, Crowley said the church also supports the community as there is a free lunch every other week throughout the year for anyone in the community that may offer pork and potatoes one week or sloppy Joes another.
DeHart said there may be as many as 50 people who attend the lunch, that aren’t church members, but are looking for fellowship or are hungry. When the Presbyterian Church isn’t hosting a lunch, the Methodist or Lutheran Churches may have one. This means, DeHart noted that there’s a lunch in Hawley every Saturday.
Doors for the Cookie Walk open Saturday, December 9 at 9 a.m. and the luncheon starts at 11 a.m. Cost for cookies is $11.00 a pound and they usually sell out. Cost for the luncheon is $11.00 for adults and $6.00 for children under 10. Reservations are suggested.
The First Presbyterian Church of Hawley is located at 815 Church Street in Hawley. For more information call 570-226-4835.