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Cookie Elves Stack ‘Em Up for the Sun Valley Culinary Institute
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Friday, December 17, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Dana Crystal Turner spent 33 years baking Christmas cookies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while she taught English.

“My students would eat anything,” she said. “They loved sweets. They bake all the time over there, although it tends to be more like baklava.”

While she certainly hadn’t grown rusty at cookie baking while overseas, she was delighted to spend a snowy night this week in the company of a dozen-plus women, baking Christmas cookies stateside.

All had enlisted in an effort to bake 300 cookies for the Sun Valley Culinary Institute Holiday Entertaining Market, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19, at 211 Main St. Shoppers will be able to load up on appetizers, soups, wines and an array of holiday desserts, such as Cheesecake Bites, while supporting the Sun Valley Culinary Institute.

Their commander-in-chief Mindy Meads had armed them with an array of spatulas and mixing bowls, pretzels and pecans.

And soon they were baking up a storm to match the one outside as they created German Chocolate Sandwich Cookies full of gooey middle, Kitchen Sink Layer Bars, Pecan Berry Bursts, Salted Caramel Coconut Cookies, Peanut Butter Squares, Sugar Swirl Cookies, Red Velvet Cookies and Peanut Butter and Candy Bar Thumbprint cookies.

“We have these cookies, 491 cake pops, 150 pounds of peppermint bark that my husband made and much, much more--I have no idea how many cookies we will have when the day comes,” said Meads, who chairs the board of the Sun Valley Culinary Institute.

Bakers bustled over fairly complicated recipes, aided by champagne served up by the Culinary’s Institute’s Karl Uri.

Elissa Eva had to put some muscle into her work as she spread out a layer of peanut butter, Graham cracker crumbs and other ingredients on a cookie sheet before icing it with melted semisweet chocolate.

“I won best cookie with these peanut butter squares at Mindy’s cookie baking party last year,” she said.

Marina Wigdale, a freshman at Sun Valley Community School, was the youngest of the cookie elves.

“I want to start baking more—it’s a great hobby and a great way to bring people together,” she said. “I especially love French cuisine and an interested in the sweets and other cuisine that different cultures prepare. I want to know how people in other cultures come together around food.”

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