Following in his light with Cookies


Once the news got out the food started arriving almost immediately and in enormous amounts. Neighbors arrived with hot coffee and bagels. The local grocers hand delivered pans of baked ziti, large trays of deli meats and cheeses all rolled into neat little packages. There were decorative trays of salads with tomato roses and steaming aluminum containers of chicken marsala. Next came those beautiful edible arrangements of fruit and even the florist got involved showing up with an herb garden. Let’s not leave out the UPS man and his near daily visit over the next month carrying boxes of cinnamon scented coffee cakes, buttery cookies and more gourmet gift baskets of goodies than can be counted. It was an amazing outpouring of love and sympathy from family and friends, but I could not eat a single bite. In fact, in the first week, after the tragic news was delivered, I lost 11 pounds. I suddenly lost my child. I was shocked, confused and had absolutely no appetite.  I wondered what was the deal with all this food?  How could anyone think I could eat at a time like this? Chef Art Smith helped me understand. In his book, Back To The Table The Reunion of Food and Family, he sums it up nicely:

     Food As Love

     Few of us think of food only in times of celebration.

     We also think of it in times of sadness and need.

     Cooking for others is a way to extend your heart.

my sweet William

my sweet William

It has been 2 1/2 years since I lost my son. I have vowed to follow in his light, to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death and with this blog step out of my comfort zone much like he did throughout his life at home and in the military. He encourages me to write about the sad experience of losing one of my life’s most precious gifts. From my heart to yours enjoy this recipe inspired by my sweet William.

Sweet William's Fancy Inspired & Spirited Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet William’s Fancy Inspired & Spirited Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet William's Inspired & Spirited Chocolate Chip cookies

2 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

12 tablespoons (11⁄2 sticks / 6 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temp.

1⁄2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 large egg, at room temp.

1 large egg yolk, at room temp.

2 tablespoons good bourbon or whiskey (William liked Jack Daniels)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 (12 oz) bag Ghirardelli double chocolate bittersweet chips

Heat oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter, both sugars and corn syrup on high. Beat in egg, egg yolk, bourbon and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix the flour mixture in gradually until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop onto prepared sheets in 2 tablespoon (1 oz.) cookie scoops, leaving 2-inches between each cookie. Bake until cookies are lightly browned on the edges (rotating pans halfway through if baking two at once), 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 3 dozen.

Note: Once you’ve scooped the dough into balls, you can freeze them like this on the trays. Transfer the frozen balls to a freezer-safe zippered bag for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before baking.

Thanks to my friend Debbie Vanni for the Art Smith Book from her culinary cellar.


38 thoughts on “Following in his light with Cookies

  1. What a lovely sentiment and what an emotion evoking picture of the two of you – the love shines through so clearly even though I’m looking at it through teary eyes.

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us Lisa. I agree, preparing food for someone just says things that words cannot. It probably helps the one preparing it more than the recipient. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet, beautiful son.

  3. Such a beautiful idea ❤ this is simply amazing… can't wait to try them! I will keep this in my recipe box forever, thank you!

  4. Love you! And I know what you mean about the food: we had beautiful meals sent here after the accident, and I was in such a shaken place, I lost 10 lbs. Fortunately, with great effort, I started getting my appetite back. I plan to make these cookies with Isabelle (she will eat them, but I am dairy and egg free). Sending you love and I so enjoyed this… thank you! (I also enjoy your messages on Caring Bridge). 🙂

    • Sara-these are the cookies I left in your mailbox that day I visited Westover. For Iz you can substitute 2 teaspoons of vanilla for the bourbon to make it more child friendly. The best thing about having so much food during that time was that I was able to feed so many visitors. We had over 600 people at William’s wake and funeral service and many came by the house. I am so very grateful that Iz and Pete are making such positive progress since that horrendous accident.

  5. What a wonderful idea. Will would be so proud of you. I will be making these cookies in my new kitchen, while thinking of my cherished memories!! So much love ❤

  6. What a wonderful tribute to your cherished son. I’m sure he would be so very proud of you and this path you are taking…….

  7. Your blog is a beautiful tribute to a dear, loving and wonderful young man. He lives forever in the hearts of many…especially mine. Thanks for sharing the recipe for these incredibly delicious cookies! Love you 😉

    • William loved nothing more than having dinner at the Panetta’s especially when it came to chicken parmigiana! You are also the best cookie baker in the world and we will ever be grateful for the basket full of cookies you made for his homecoming. ❤

    • I will make them for your birthday. These are the same cookies we had at Caitlin and Sam’s wedding. I baked over 600 of them for that joyful occasion.

  8. Lisa, your talents continue to amaze me. Write on! And of course, keep on cooking, too.
    Will is smiling down on you and is proud of you.
    Hugs to you and your family, my friend.

  9. Pingback: Sweet William’s Spirited Chocolate Chip Cookies – In Good Taste

    • I read through your magazine early this morning and was delighted to see that you “Willed it”. Thank you so much and very happy you like the cookies. Your on-line magazine is beautiful and innovative and I am so very proud to be included. Thanks.

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