Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cookies for a Cause

Happy Valentine's Day! (I know I"m a few days late...) This past weekend, some great friends from our small group and I had the privilege to serve some of Indianapolis's less fortunate. As a group of 5 couples, we've committed to doing a service project together once every other month and with each rotation, a different couple gets to choose who to serve. For the month of February, our sweet Lauren wanted to help a newer organization, Circle City Relief. CCR is a ministry partner within our church that collects un-purchased pizzas from Little Caesars and distributes them to those who need food. Every Sunday for the past year, CCR has spread the love of Jesus Christ by passing out pizzas and clothing, serving hot soup, establishing relationships, and praying for those who show up to IPS School 60 to take home some food and hopefully some hope.

So many cookies!
While preparing for our service project, the ladies and I thought it would be a nice gesture to provide cookies for the people we would be serving. Given the timing, it only seemed appropriate that we tap into a Valentine's Day theme with these heart-shaped cookies. When we approached the CCR leader with our plan, she loved the idea. She let us know that they were expecting 200 or so people... GASP. What did we get ourselves into? Instead of freaking out, we turned the opportunity to get together for brunch and just have fun in the kitchen with the girls!

(Side note: I served this spinach and cheese strata, my sister's famous coffee cake, OJ and coffee. I didn't think to snap photos prior to our enjoyment of the food but both recipes were perfectly lovely for a simple brunch!) 

After piping an edge to the cookies, here we are flooding the royal icing.
For the cookies, we went with my favorite sugar cookie recipe and because I've been sort of a royal icing addict lately, we went with royal icing for the smooth texture and yummy flavor. I go into more detail on royal icing here.
Our collective favorite cookie.
In hindsight, we definitely should have gone with a simpler icing - buttercream, perhaps - due to our time constraints and the sheer number of cookies we needed to turn out. Fortunately, we were able to ice the cookies quite quickly... but the drying process was more lengthy than desired for this type of project. Normally, the drying process wouldn't necessarily be an issue, but we had agreed to package the cookies in bags with ribbon.
With a little added flair.
After the ladies left my house, I placed all the cookies on my island to get an official "count". Glad I did - we only had about 150 and needed 200! We had many cookies left, so I simply whipped up a batch of buttercream and created a simple design for the remaining 50 cookies. I also added a touch of the pink buttercream to the royal icing cookies for a little added flair.
Here is what 200 packaged cookies look like. :-)

Lauren and I passing out cookies.

Fortunately for our group and the people we were serving, we were blessed with a beautiful, sunny day! Several hundred pizzas and over 200 cookies were passed out in just under 1.5 hours.

For me, I often take fresh, homemade baked goods for granted because I have a kitchen with an oven and the means to purchase ingredients. Some of the people we served were actually shocked that we would make cookies from scratch just for them. Yet for me, I felt absolutely blessed to be able to bring a bit of joy to folks who don't normally get to experience the fresh-made goodness of a cookie. <3

Just for fun, I thought I would also share some of the special Valentine's Day cookies I made for my Granny, who turned 83 on the 14th. I used the same cookies but decorated with leftover buttercream.

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