Gretchen Holt-Witt lost her son Liam to pediatric cancer. Since then, she's sought to create a world where other families wouldn't have to endure such a tragedy.
In 2007, upon learning of her son's diagnosis, she baked and sold 96,000 cookies over the holidays, with the money going to fund research for pediatric cancer — which kills more children than any other disease in the U.S. That initial sale raised $42,000 for new pediatric cancer treatments and inspired a movement — Cookies for Kids Cancer, a nonprofit encouraging people to host bake sales and other events to raise money for the cause.
Out of the movement came Holt-Witt's first cookbook, "Cookies for Kids' Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook," and led to "Cookies for Kids' Cancer: All the Good Cookies," a second cookbook that was just released.
If you're looking to host a bake sale for Holt-Witt's cause, try this recipe from her book:
Seriously Short Chocolate Chip Cookies
We love our cookies short — not in stature, but with just the right blend of fat and sugar to melt in your mouth. The shortening here is key: It gives the perfect balance, with the butter adding depth of flavor. This recipe makes a big batch of dough that can be scooped up in any size you want. Just keep an eye on them and adjust the baking time.
Yield: Depending on scoop size and whether or not nuts are added, four to 12 dozen cookies
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup butter-flavored shortening
1¼ cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups (2¼ pounds) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups chopped nuts (optional)
• Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
• Place the butter, shortening and sugars in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, and the vanilla.
• Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; mix well and add to the butter mixture. Beat until everything is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the chocolate chips and mix again. Add nuts, if using, and mix again.
• Using a cookie scoop, drop the dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
• Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies begin to brown at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets on the oven racks halfway through the baking time. Cool on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough on cool cookie sheets.
• Store in an airtight container for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.