Halifax Citizen: Sweets from Santa’s helpers

newleafFor a small kitchen, the crew of 20 bakers at New Leaf Enterprises are mixing up thousands of shortbread, rocky road and Santa’s whiskers cookies.

“We’re like little elves pounding out all this baking,” says Veronica Dale, Executive Director. As of Dec. 1st, Dale says they’ve produced 4,785 shortbreads and more than 2,000 cherry balls. Their popular chocolate covered peanut butter balls have rolled across the 4,000 mark.

But orders close on Fri. Dec. 12 and Easter Seals Nova Scotia president and CEO Henk van Leeuwen says order soon and invest in a good cause. “We do rely on sales from our social enterprises to be invested back into Easter Seals Nova Scotia … like our barrier-free camp and our wheelchair provision programs … but the food is excellent,” says van Leeuwen.

Jolly bakers at New Leaf Enterprises whipping and mixing a nostalgic array of holiday baking like hermit cookies, Santa’s whiskers and shortbreads. Nicole Lenson, Sonya Demone (front row) with Michelle Wilson, Christine Riley and Joe Hickling (back row).
Jolly bakers at New Leaf Enterprises whipping and mixing a nostalgic array of holiday baking like hermit cookies, Santa’s whiskers and shortbreads. Nicole Lenson, Sonya Demone (front row) with Michelle Wilson, Christine Riley and Joe Hickling (back row).

“They’re all made by hand, from scratch,” says Dale. “In our world, we use baking as a teaching tool.” And this time of year, Easter Seals Nova Scotia whips holiday nostalgia into their menu selection, offering a variety of baking representing what Christmas means to them. The hermit cookies are new to the menu this year and Dale says the recipe was her great grandmas.

“Our crew has a wide range of ability; some have physical disabilities; some have intellectual disabilities; and some would say they have both,” says van Leeuwen. The holiday campaign is in its 10th year and like all programs run through New Leaf, van Leeuwen says they are designed with skills training and inclusion in mind. “Our kitchen is the best kept culinary secret in Halifax,” he laughs while references the extra few pounds he’s added from sampling the goods. “We do high production and high volume and they freeze well.”

“We have people who put their order in with us and then they come back because they ate it!,” laughs Dale.

Christine Riley (24) has been with New Leaf Enterprises for two years and says she loves learning about baking. “Last week we went to NSCC Akerley Campus bakery and learned a lot visiting all the kitchens,” says Riley. She says they were taught how to work with chocolate and the varying temperatures. “My favorite item to make is the chocolate covered peanut butter balls … They’re sort of hard to make because we have to make sure the temperature of the chocolate we’re dipping them in is the same as the peanut butter,” she says.

“If you let them set too long, it’ll be too hard and goopy,” says Sonya Demone.

Last year the program raised $6,500 from Christmas baking. This year, they say they hope to raise more. Van Leeuwen says the Christmas baking engages their clients in a seasonal aspect of what’s happening in their community. “They acquire skills such as personal and professional development, reading and following a recipe, teamwork, friendship and skills around production including baking, wrapping and everyday kitchen operations,” he says.

“It’s a crazy, rushed time of year … You’ve a work party or a cookie exchange, let us do it for you,” says van Leeuwen.

The catering kitchen operates all year, but limited orders for holiday baking are extended until Fri. Dec. 12 for pick-up on Wed. Dec. 17.

Items cost $4.95 per dozen or loaf and can be collected at Easter Seals Nova Scotia, 3670 Kempt Rd. To order call 902-453-6000 or email i.grundt@easterseals.ns.ca. Here’s the baking form: www.easterseals.ns.ca

Also online in the Halifax Citizen.

Indulge yourself with New Leaf homebaking: Santa`s whiskers, shortbread, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, cherry balls and rocky roads.
Indulge yourself with New Leaf homebaking: Santa`s whiskers, shortbread, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, cherry balls and rocky roads.

The holiday menu at New Leaf Enterprises:

  • Shortbread
  • Cherry Balls
  • Peanut Butter Balls
  • Hermit Cookies
  • Santa’s Whiskers Cookies
  • Rocky Road Squares
  • Chocolate Marble Coffee Cake
  • Cranberry Orange Loaf

2 thoughts on “Halifax Citizen: Sweets from Santa’s helpers”

  1. Great article. New Leaf is a wonderful organization!!

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