MARSHALL - They might be a tradition, a culinary experiment, or just a snack. But no matter how you look at holiday goodies like cookies, sharing them is part of the fun. A group of area residents came together to share ideas and try some new cookie recipes earlier this week, during a holiday baking class offered through Marshall Community Services.
"It's something I have a passion for," said Manjit Harrison of Minneota, who was teaching the class. Harrison said she's loved trying out new cookie and dessert recipes since she was a girl, partly just to try something new. Her parents are from India, she said, "And in our culture, we never baked."
For the cookie-making class, Harrison said students were going to try out four different cookie recipes, involving some very different decorating techniques. People attending the class moved between tables in the Marshall High School family and consumer science classroom. They made linzer cookies, which were sandwiched around a fruit filling, Viennese sandwich cookies, and rugelach, a Hanukkah dessert with a date and nut filling.
Photo by Deb Gau
Sometimes it takes two to cut out cookies, especially if you need to sandwich them around fruit filling later. So Carol Carlson and Chasity Soupir worked together.
"It's like a crescent roll," one person observed as Harrison demonstrated how to shape the rugelach.
The fourth batch of cookies the class made were meant to be seen as much as tasted. Once the cookies were rolled and cut with "windows" in the middle, Emily Mortier and Chasity Soupir added the secret ingredient - Lifesavers candies, crushed into powder with a few whacks of a rolling pin. The candy melted in the oven as the cookies baked, and hardened to look like stained glass.
"Look at mine," Emily Mortier said, pointing out her bright orange and purple window cookies to her mother Mary Mortier. Emily Mortier said she enjoyed getting the chance to try out the different recipes.
Some recipes the class tried came with their own challenges. The students tasked with mixing the dough for the Viennese cookies were working from an English cookbook, which measured ingredients by weight instead of in cup measurements. Reagan Thalacker added a scoop of powdered sugar to a kitchen scale, watching the balance carefully.
"It didn't move," she said. "But then I'm only doing a little at a time." After a little more trial and error, the group had their dry ingredients ready to go.
While the students taking the class all had an interest in doing some holiday baking, not everyone was a cookie expert.
"I do a lot of cupcake-making, and I kind of wanted to branch out," said Alyssa Foster.
"I usually make lefse," Laura Claude said, but she said she hadn't had the chance to this year, and was looking for some good recipes.
Mary Swanson said she was interested in the class partly as a chance to set a good an example for her kids.
"We wanted to get back to making things, instead of buying," she said. It was also a great girls' night out with friends, she added.
Naturally, getting to taste the cookies was the key moment of the class. Judging from the reactions, the recipes turned out well.
"Look at these." "These are good," came responses from around the room.