It’s that time of year again for Columbus resident Renee Bellum to pull out her 1960s Betty Crocker cookbook and cookie press.
“Nobody makes anything like them,” said Bellum, as she filled her butter cookies with hazelnut spread before dipping them into chocolate and peanuts on Friday morning inside the comfort of her kitchen.
Bellum’s Viennese finger biscuits – a sweet treat she created by combining two of her favorite recipes – never fail to impress. It’s one of the many unique cookies sold each year during the Cookies ‘N More event hosted by Federated Church.
For 12 consecutive years, Bellum has baked five dozen biscuits and another five dozen “mice cookies”— another one of her unique cookie recipes using chocolate, cherries and Oreo cookies – for the event.
And this year is no different.
The 12th Annual Cookies ‘N More returns from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday at Federated Church, 2704 15th St., in conjunction with the Downtown Christmas Stroll.
“For me, it’s a fun thing because I have time,” said Bellum, who is also a member of the church.
Looking back, Bellum said she's surprised that she has been baking for more than 10 years, noting the sale is one of the many community events she’s baked for throughout the years.
The North Dakota native is one of roughly 90 church volunteers baking for the event. Another is Paula Lange.
Just like Bellum, Lange has been baking for the event for several years. Lange said she enjoys baking, especially during colder months.
This year, Bellum is preparing Samoa cookies dipped and drizzled with chocolate.
In addition to Bellum and Lange’s treats, attendees can choose from a variety of uniquely flavored cookies like cinnamon bun cheesecake, fruitcake and key lime, as well as biscotti, macaroons, salted nut clusters, pumpkin cookie cups, red velvet thumbprint cookies and candy.
What makes the event a big hit each year, Lange said, is that many of these cookie options can’t be found in stores. She said members have continuously sold out all of their inventory each year.
“We have been blessed with terrific community support for this event throughout the years,” Lange said. “Cookies ‘N More has been fine-tuned over the years and has gained a loyal following throughout the community.”
Proceeds gathered from the event, as well as from the church’s summer rummage sale, will be distributed among local missionaries.
Those wanting to learn more about the event are encouraged to call Alison Wagner at 402-564-0343 or call Lange at 402-910-0445.
When it comes down to choosing between cooking and baking, it was an obvious answer for Bellum and Lange.
“I love to bake,” said Bellum, noting she bakes at least 200 cookies for her family each year for Christmas. “I don’t want to cook anything else but I want to bake.”
Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.