For more than 15 years, Central Market has been serving up fresh cookies and smiles at lunch every Tuesday. Central students, visitors and members of campus are met with the ever-welcoming aroma of the dayʼs cookies and reminded of their fondest cookie memories upon entering the building.
Behind the Scenes
Each Tuesday morning, just before 11 a.m., cookie dough gets loaded on baking sheets — two dozen pucks of cookie dough per sheet. The first round of cookies goes into the oven 15 minutes before lunch starts, so they come out piping hot — so fresh that chocolate chips are still melting, and the cookie falls apart in your hands — and just in time for students to arrive.
Wendy LaHue, baker, and Jolene Brooks, bakery/café prep assistant, “rinse and repeat” continuously for two hours (with additional pans going out after two hours to ensure any stragglers still get cookies). Each Tuesday, approximately 55 sheets of cookies are baked to meet the demand of hungry students.
Cookie Is King
The king of Tuesdays? The chocolate chip cookie. Other cookies have tried (and failed) to sway the hearts of Central students, but they always come back to that warm, gooey, chocolatey goodness.
To keep up with the demand, the keepers of the cookies had to move to premade dough over the years and establish a five-cookie limit for students. LaHue joked that she hoped the limit would shed an innocent light on the bakers for any cases of “freshmen 15.”
More Than Meets the Mouth
Knowing you’re going to be faced with baking about 2,000 cookies in one day could make it hard to want to get out of bed in the morning, but LaHue? She looks forward to it.
“It’s how I connect with our students and make them feel loved,” she says. “They come in excited and their eyes light up when they see the cookies.”
How could one not love that?
“It makes me feel like one of their moms on campus,” she adds.
Fresh Cookie Tuesday is more than a tradition to LaHue and the baking crew. Baking these cookies is their way of bringing a sense of warmth, familiarity and possibly even a “hug” to students while they’re away from home.
“It sounds silly, but I think it helps the students feel more at home,” LaHue says. “It’s truly a taste of home away from home.”
They’ve Got the Power
Sharing the Love
Speaking of sharing the love, keep reading to get the famous Central College caramel bar recipe …
Psych! We can’t give away all of our secrets, but we can give you a recipe to try at home. Enjoy LaHue’s famous peanut butter cup bars!
Peanut Butter Cup Bar Recipe From the Central College Kitchen
Serves: 12 bars
- 1 cup melted butter
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 tablespoons peanut butter
In a medium bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.
In a metal bowl over simmering water, or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the 4 tablespoons peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.
If you’re really craving caramel bars, you can always order them — or any of Central’s baked goods — for parties and gatherings by calling 641-628-5788 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.