BAKING BONDS: Two Laurens are better than one in this Centerville kitchen

Caren DiMario's daughter, Lauren DiMario (left) and her daughter-in-law, also Lauren DiMario (right), bake hundreds of cookies together each Christmas season.

Credit: Caren DiMario

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Caren DiMario's daughter, Lauren DiMario (left) and her daughter-in-law, also Lauren DiMario (right), bake hundreds of cookies together each Christmas season.

Credit: Caren DiMario

Between the messes of powdered sugar, smudges of dough on the floor and stolen chocolate chips are where some families’ sweetest and timeless memories are created.

Our annual holiday cookie contest has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bakers from across the region have submitted thousands of recipes since the contest was first held in 1990. Each year we publish the top recipes so readers can replicate the winning desserts at home.

To fill the sugary void in our hearts this year, we asked readers to tell us about their most cherished bonds they’ve made through holiday baking and to share a favorite recipe.

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It’s the sound of the KitchenAid mixer, the feel of the rolling pin running over dough, the sound of the refrigerator opening — these are the memories that make-up a lifelong baking bond when mixed with love, according to Washington Township resident, Caren DiMario.

You would never know that DiMario’s daughter, Lauren DiMario, would often burn the Christmas cookies if given the reigns in the kitchen. Today, Lauren runs a food blog on Instagram called “Lauren Talks Food,” and her creations are nothing short of stunning.

Lauren’s transformation was something magical, her mother said. It all started when DiMario’s son brought another Lauren into the family in 2019 when he married Lauren Joy Utrup — now also Lauren DiMario.

“So what a better way to bond two Laurens than in the kitchen!” DiMario said. “And this Lauren loved Christmas cookies! I set the two of them up in the kitchen, with recipes and ingredients, and just watched them learn from each other and spend hours together, loving the final cookies.”

When both Laurens are home for the holidays, DiMario said they live in the kitchen for days — bonding over old, Italian recipes passed down in the DiMario family that can be quite labor intensive.

As proven by the bond created between the two Laurens, DiMario believes magic can happen in the kitchen when the time is taken to work through the old recipes together.

“I am so proud of the girls,” DiMario said. … I just love these two Lauren’s.”

The Laurens’ love of baking has spilled-over into the community. This Christmas, they’ll bake hundreds of extra cookies and holiday treats to donate to a local non-profit that’s mission is to provide hope and a path to long-term care and recovery to addicts in the Greater Cincinnati area — OneCity For Recovery.

-Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars — a favorite of Lauren and Lauren:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup margarine (softened)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • One, 12 ounces package of chocolate chips

Instructions

Mix first 4 ingredients. Add peanut butter. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 25 - 35 minutes. “Don’t over bake.”

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