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Tualatin baker adds 'just a pinch of heart' to cookie recipies

Tualatin's Susan Bartley says she cooks to make people happy


by: TIMES PHOTO: CAITLIN FELDMAN - Susan Bartley won blue ribbons for both her chocolate cappuccino bacon cookies and ganache-filled coconut macaroons. She can often be found handing out her goodies at Hopes Table on Monday nights.Susan Bartley is full of stories. Some of them are hers, some of them belong to people she meets, but she carries them with her wherever she goes. From these stories, she finds the inspiration to create new recipes and share them with friends and strangers alike.

Having grown up cooking, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Bartley, 59, began publishing her recipes for anyone to use on JustAPinch.com. Once recipes are posted, a test kitchen recreates them, and awards blue ribbons to the best submissions. Recently, the Tualatin local received blue ribbons for both her ganache-filled coconut macaroons and chocolate cappuccino bacon cookies.

“You could probably put me in a room, give me a few items and something would come together,” she said. “It was a matter of taking an idea and then seeking inspiration to moving it into something else.”

For each of these recipes, Bartley started with an idea from a friend. The macaroons are completely gluten-free, and were originally made for a friend who couldn’t have some of her other treats because of celiac disease. The bacon cookies were a suggestion Bartley wanted to perfect. So, she found a recipe and thought about how she would need to tweak it to make it better. She decided to increase the amount of bacon, use different kinds of chips and make a few other alterations. By the time Bartley had figured out what she wanted to do, she hadn’t even attempted her creation — she’d simply been visualizing it. When she finally made them, she got it right on the first try.

“I kept thinking, thinking and thinking it forward,” Bartley said. by: TIMES PHOTO: CAITLIN FELDMAN - Susan Bartley won blue ribbons for both her chocolate cappuccino bacon cookies and ganache-filled coconut macaroons. She can often be found handing out her goodies at Hopes Table on Monday nights.“You want people to be able to take what you presented and use their imagination...when I felt that it was perfected to where people could do it and keep it simple, I put that up (on JustAPinch).”

Bartley wants people to be able to alter her recipes to their preferences the same way she works from the recipes she finds. The goal is to make something simple enough that anyone can do it without too much frustration, while using fresh, healthy ingredients when possible.

Three years ago, Bartley started a journey that led her to lose 200 pounds. This means that even though she’s baking multiple days a week, she often isn’t able to enjoy her creations. So, she takes them to her loved ones, passes them out around town and to Hope’s Table, which provides free meals to School House Pantry clients, as well as their families and friends. The meals are served every Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Community Life Center at Rolling Hills Community Church.

“That’s my inspiration — to do it for somebody else,” Bartley said. “The smiles, the love that you feel and the hugs, I mean are more than enough. More than enough. God keeps blessing me to be able to give more.”

Chocolate Cappuccino Bacon Cookies Ingredients:

1/2 lb. maple cured bacon

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups cappuccino chips

Makes 36 cookies, with 25 minute prep time and 10 minutes to bake. For complete instructions, click here.

Ganache-filled Coconut Macaroons Ingredients:

5 cups angel flake coconut

4 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 pinch kosher salt

4 large egg whites, room temperature

1/2 cup extra fine granulated sugar

For ganache:

1 can 14-ounce sweetened condensed milk

12-ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Makes 36 cookies with 20 minute prep time and 20 minutes to bake. For complete instructions, click here.

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