Baking a way to make, share memories
Adele Knickels remembers fondly why as a child she enjoyed baking alongside her mother and sisters.
"At a young age, it was the eating," she said. "Everyone in our family had a sweet tooth. We were always happy to have fresh cookies to eat."
The Barrington resident still enjoys baking but now friends, family and co-workers enjoy the fruits of her labor.
Whether it's making a tray filled with cookies to serve at a party or filling a decorated box with biscotti to give a gift, Adele enjoys spending hours within her kitchen to bake something for those she loves.
Adele started making the almond and anise biscotti her grandma used to make but after searching out other recipes she now bakes flavors such as chocolate, toffee, cranberry orange, lemon and, during the holidays, fruit and nut.
"If I bring those to people who are Italian, they will say 'oh my gosh I have not had them since my grandma made them years ago.' They really appreciate it."
Over the holidays, Adele has been known to make up to 20 varieties of cookies including lemon knots, another Italian favorite, as well as chocolate truffles, meringue mints, candy canes and spritz cookies.
"When something turns out pretty, that makes me proud I've done a good job," she said. "When I get a compliment, it's rewarding and it makes me feel good."
Another cookie her mom taught her was called Treasure Balls, brown sugar dough balls rolled with mini chocolate chips and coated in powdered sugar.
Yet cookies are not the only treats that emerge from her kitchen. Adele looks forward to trying out a new pumpkin pie recipe that includes a refrigerated graham cracker and gingersnap crust covered with a thin layer of chocolate and topped with a baked pumpkin filling.
Today she shares with readers a decadent brownie that includes two types of chocolate and mini marshmallows in the batter.
Adele enjoys baking all year round too, whether it be individual bundt cakes for her niece's bridal shower, cookies for her husband's annual golf tournament or treats for another annual event that honors the woman who taught her to bake.
For 11 years, her family has participated in a walk organized by the Alzheimer's Association in memory of her mom, who died after battling the disease. When the walk was smaller, Adele baked muffins and cookies for just her family. Now, she makes sure to make enough baked treats for all the walkers, which this past year pushed 500.
"It's a way to honor the memory of our mom," said Adele, who becomes a little emotional as she speaks about her. "She was the one who taught us the love of family and baking. It means we are keeping her wonderful memory alive."
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