For the past decade, Kim Penniman has been instilling in her son the importance of giving thanks during the holidays. She teaches this lesson one cookie at a time.
Penniman, 52, of Cary, is an avid baker and generous with her freshly baked goods. She welcomes new neighbors with banana walnut chocolate chip bread, and hands out chocolate chip pecan cookies to the neighborhood kids. Her dentist regularly receives a batch of cookies, breads or cakes to share with his Bible study group.
In early December, however, Penniman goes into full-time baking and giving mode. Out comes the 70-year-old chocolate chip butter cookie recipe that she calls “snowflake” cookies because of their powdery sugar tops. She received the recipe as a gift at her bridal shower 19 years ago. This is the cookie that symbolizes her holiday mission.
“We just want to say thank you to the people who serve us all year,” Penniman said. “They need to be noticed and recognized. It’s something we teach our son too, to value other people. It doesn’t matter if they are a CEO or a janitor. You should value everybody.”
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With 12-year-old Noah’s help, Penniman spends the first three weeks of December baking nearly 600 cookies. He does his part by dumping in the chocolate chips, and by accompanying Penniman or her husband, David, on many of the deliveries. Noah enjoys taking part. “They’re really grateful that we do it,” he said. ”
In addition to neighbors, friends, the mailman, garbage men, Fed Ex and UPS delivery men – she leaves their treats in packages by the front door – the Pennimans’ stops include the management team at their apartment complex, supermarkets, the YMCA, the gas station/convenience store and her husband’s colleagues at the North Carolina National Guard.
Among the appreciative recipients is Amy Libbus, whose family owns Dolphins, the nearby gas station, convenience store and post office. Libbus said, “When we are so busy at the post office in our store and focused on getting hundreds of packages out, it’s those gestures that put warmth into the holidays.”
That’s exactly Penniman’s aim. “With so much negativity in the world,” she said, “it can be comforting to receive a thank you and a seasonal treat, and let others know that their work matters.”
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1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
16 ounces mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use an electric mixer with a paddle to blend together butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl.
In separate bowl, mix together flour and salt. Slowly add one cup flour mixture at a time to butter mixture. The dough will be slightly stiff. Stir in chocolate chips.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and flatten with the bottom of a glass. (Dip the glass in all-purpose flour to prevent sticking.)
Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15-17 minutes until slightly golden.Let them cool for about 5 minutes and then remove to the cooling rack. Cool another 10 minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Yield: about 48 cookies