21 December 2016

Small Acts of Service Can Mean a World of Difference (plus recipe: Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies)

When I was newly-married and in college, I sent care packages to all of my friends who left to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I told all of them that I'd send them cookies (any kind they wanted), every time they wrote me letters. That way, I could ensure that my mailbox would contain more than just bills and junk mail, and they could get a little taste of home no matter where in the world their missionary service took them.

Over the years, I extended my promise to friends and family of my friends ... until I had a standing promise for every missionary, whether I knew them personally or not: If they send me a letter to tell me about ways they're serving others in their missions, I'll send them cookies. Any kind they like.

Recently, some of the missionaries I've given the promise to have decided to test my "any kind of cookies you'd like." And I've gotten some interesting challenges that have tested my cookie recipe creation abilities.

Elder Cornejo, who is currently serving in the Baltimore, MD mission, wrote a letter to tell me about an experience he had that showed him how much the Lord loves and cares for each of His children. So often, we think we're insignificant, and that our own little light isn't bright enough to make a difference in the darkness surrounding us. But even a small candle can brighten a dark room. And the Lord uses our small acts of service to lift and lighten the burdens of those around us. Even a smile or a kind word can mean a world of difference in the life of someone who is suffering. And Elder Cornejo is the kind of young man who exemplifies this type of selfless service. Our family is blessed to know him.

If you ask my children, though, they might tell you that the biggest blessing from our friendship with Elder Cornejo is that he asked me to create cookies that tasted like cinnamon rolls. (They've quickly become a huge favorite at the Bartles house!) It's a relatively simple recipe, as far as mixing the ingredients, but it took three tries before I got the swirl just right when putting the layers together to make it look like cinnamon rolls in addition to tasting like them!

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies

You will need:
1 c. butter (or margarine)
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 c. flour
1/4 c. ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.

Add eggs, salt, and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy.

Stir in flour, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated.

Divide dough. Set aside 2/3 of the dough for later. Add cinnamon to the remaining 1/3 and mix well. (This dough will be very cinnamony!)

On a floured surface, roll reserved cookie dough into a large rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Set aside.

Roll cinnamon-flavored dough into a rectangle roughly the same width and length as the first rectangle (it should be about 1/2-inch thick, since there's half the volume of dough).

Layer cinnamon dough onto the plain dough and continue rolling until the layered sheet of dough is about 1/2-inch thick. Roll tightly, as you would for cinnamon rolls. Chill for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice cookies 3/8-inch thick. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes (do not overbake, or cookies won't be soft!) Let set 2 minutes on cookie sheet, and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

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