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Contributor Marge Perry, Ask the Expert and A Sweet and Savory Life

They can and they are, thanks to the tireless efforts of my friend Gretchen Holt, who started Cookies for Kids Cancer in 2007, shortly after her 2 1/2-year old son Liam was diagnosed.

Initially, Gretchen rallied a couple of hundred people to help bake, package and distribute 96,000 cookies—all in the space of a few weeks. The goal was simple and clear: raise money to fund research for pediatric cancer. It was astonishing: in that first year, her efforts raised over $400,00 and word spread.

In just over four years, people like us who love to cook—along with caring kids, companies and even firehouses—have held over 3,000 bake sales for Cookies for Kids Cancer. Together, they’ve raised over $4 million for pediatric cancer research.


In the midst of it all, beautiful little Liam lost his battle to cancer. Fueled by the conviction that no other child should go through what Liam endured, Gretchen has continued the fight to cure children’s cancers. She has just come out with the Cookies for Kids' Cancer Best Bake Sale Cookbook, which is not only chockfull of great recipes (like my husband, David Bonom’s Prince Liam Peanut Butter Cookies, below) but also bake sale tips and inspiring stories from people like you and me who have held bake sales. All proceeds from the book go to Cookies for Kids Cancer.

Learn more about hosting your own bake sale and the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer organization and be a part of the search for a cure.


Prince Liam’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Another cookie that people either totally love or totally hate. If you’re a peanut butter cookie lover, you will flip for these, developed by pal David Bonom, who gave them their name too. When we asked him why he named them so, he answered “I love these cookies and I love Liam!”

Why shortening? While the purists among you may want to substitute butter for the shortening, be prepared for your peanut butter cookies to have a totally different texture—they’ll be soft and sandy rather than crisp and chewy. Also, be sure to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl before adding to the peanut mixture. This extra step avoids over-mixing the batter, which results in tougher cookies. It is also done to make sure the leavening is distributed evenly in the batter.

½ cup vegetable shortening

½ cup granulated sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup natural-style peanut butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1¼ teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

¾ cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

• Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

• Place the shortening, sugars, peanut butter, egg, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat on medium speed stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until well combined, about 3 minutes.

• In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and beat on low speed until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peanuts and beat 30 seconds longer.

• Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls on the prepared cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Roll each tablespoon of batter into a ball.

Working one at a time, dip the tines of a fork in sugar and press down each ball into a 1 1/2- to 1 3/4- inch round, forming a crosshatch on top.

• Transfer to the oven and bake until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool cookies on cookie sheet on a rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack and cool completely.

See our collection of cookie recipes if you need more ideas for your bake sale.