Annual Cookie Day yields 1,200-plus cookies
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD -- In delicately wrapped packages, cookies of all kinds have been spreading joy to homes and offices throughout Brevard.
Snickerdoodles, rum balls, peanut butter blossoms and chocolate covered cherry cookies are just a few of the treats responsible for satisfying sweet tooths and filling hungry tummies near the holidays. The perpetrator behind it all lives in Melbourne Beach.
Her name is Liz Cassella, a Melbourne business owner and cooking extraordinaire. Mrs. Cassella, who baked cookies near Christmastime with her grandmother as a child, started a holiday tradition called Cookie Day more than a decade ago.
In just one day, Mrs. Cassella bakes more than 1,000 cookies to be distributed to friends, families and coworkers to spread the holiday cheer. Each year, Cookie Day becomes a holiday event in and of itself.
"This year, we baked 1,242 cookies," she said. "I remember being in the kitchen as a little girl, when my grandmother would bake cookies to give out to everyone. So 11 years ago, I started a Cookie Day of my own."
So, what does it take to make more than 1,000 cookies in a single day?
A lot of butter, sugar, flour and helping hands.
Each year, Mrs. Cassella has friends and family who offer assistance in the kitchen. From taste-testing - the most desirable job - to overseeing the oven, Cookie Day accomplices are essential to the success of the day.
"The most important helper is someone who rolls all the cookies," Mrs. Cassella said. "Cookie Day would not be possible without a roller."
In addition to the labor, Mrs. Cassella said preparation for the day is crucial. This year, she gathered 18 pounds of flour, 24 sticks of butter and 11 pounds of sugar, among many other supplies.
The end result is, of course, an abundance of cookies, as well as many delighted recipients, who are thankful for Mrs. Cassella's enthusiasm for the holidays, which comes in the form of the delicious treats.
"Liz pours so much into Cookie Day each year," said her friend and fellow Cookie Day participant, Bonney Koo. "It's really a testament to her character. She is such generous person with a big heart, and she has been keeping our bellies satisfied and full of cookies for many years."
Mrs. Cassella said she hopes to see her three children share the tradition with their families for many years to come, which means the Cassella family has a lot of butter, sugar and flour in its future.
"I keep thinking each year, 'Am I crazy for doing this?'" Mrs. Cassella said. "But I couldn't imagine a holiday season without Cookie Day."
And those close to Mrs. Cassella don't want to, either.
1/2-cup chopped dates
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
3 cups Rice Krispies
1/2-cup chopped pecans
14-ounce bag coconut flakes
Mix the first five ingredients, and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat.
Add the Rice Krispies and pecans.
Wait until the mixture is cool enough to handle.
Roll into 1-inch balls and cover each ball in coconut.
Do not bake.
-Recipe submitted by Liz Cassella, who is the winner of the Holiday Recipe Contest!