Snowmen, stockings and brightly wrapped gifts are hallmarks of the Christmas season, even when they’re made of sugar.
Cookie Carousel again will serve up a festive selection of sweets this year. The 26th annual event, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, focuses on offering treats that evoke the Christmas spirit.
“People are looking for festive,” said Pat Bidwell, one of the parishioners involved.
The St. Thomas More Ladies, which organizes the event, selects a featured cookie each year, and for 2016 the group chose slow cooker chocolate candy, a chocolate peanut cluster made in a slow cooker.
When the committee members select the featured cookie, they go through recipes from members or online and look for a cheery treat.
The first featured cookie was a gingerbread man, and last year’s 25th anniversary — the silver anniversary — featured a sugar cookie decorated like a silver bell. Dionne Greif recalled an almond bark recipe from one year when each baker made her own version with various candies and decorations.
“Every combination was different,” Greif said. “It was so fun.”
The group encourages parishioners who provide cookies to get away from traditional chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies and bake something a little more original. Nancy Hardy said they’ve seen colorful creations that tend to be popular for an event like Cookie Carousel.
“People like when you put a little effort in, not just open a package and plop cookies down,” Hardy said.
Greif said even small details can make a more traditional confection special.
“Little decorative sprinkles or M& Ms make a chocolate chip cookie more festive,” she said.
New this year is a visit from St. Nick and story time for kids with books read by youth of the church in the hopes that it makes it easier for parents to come with their children.
Cookies will be sold for $6.50 per pound, and the event usually sells about 1,000 pounds of treats. Since the first Cookie Carousel, the group has given $55,000 from the event to various local organizations. Proceeds from this year’s event will go to Sunflower CASA, the Crisis Center and the Flint Hills Community Clinic.
“It’s fun, but we’re doing it as a service,” Bidwell said.
Slow cooker chocolate candy
2 pounds salted dry-roasted peanuts 4 ounces German’s sweet chocolate 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 2 1/2 pounds white almond bark 30-40 cupcake liners or 125-150 mini cupcake liners
Put the peanuts in the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker.
Layer chocolate over the peanuts, beginning with the sweet chocolate, followed by the chocolate chips and then the almond bark.
Set the temperature on low and cook for 3 hours. Do not stir the mixture.
After 3 hours, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Drop the candy into cupcake pan liners using about 2 tablespoons per liner. Allow the candy to cool completely before removing the cupcake liners.