Melchi stays on the ball with cookies for BGSU coaches and athletes
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 08:10
Over the last 12 years, Rhonda Melchi has made thousands of sweet treats for Bowling Green State University student-athletes and coaches.
|Rhonda Melchi of Bowling Green with her selection Pecan Sandies and Chocolate Raspberry Squares. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
In this week's Cook's Corner, Melchi, treasurer for Bowling Green City Schools, shared two of her recipes she makes for her fellow Falcons: Chocolate Raspberry Squares (a favorite of the women's basketball team); and the melt-in-your-mouth version of Pecan Sandies.
Melchi and her husband, Steve, are Falcon Fanatics. They are a familiar face in the stands at athletic events, their basement is adorned from top to bottom with BGSU memorabilia and their dog's name is Ziggy, as in "Ay Ziggy Zoomba." Both are BGSU alumni and met in college. They have been married 33 years and would be considered by today's standards at "Falcon Flames."
Melchi's cookie history with the BGSU Athletic Department dates back more than a decade.
"It actually started when Dan Dakich (former BGSU men's basketball coach) was in his third year and we would go to the Falcons Nest Coaches show at Frickers," Melchi said.
During one of the shows, Dakich talked about a lady who made cookies for the men's basketball team and how she would no longer be able to bake for them.
Melchi though, "That is something I could do."
And so it began.
The following week, Melchi went to the show - this time armed with cookies. It's a tradition she has carried on through coaching changes.
"Coach (Louis) Orr had to be educated a bit on that," she laughed. "I think he was a bit shocked after his first Falcons Nest show and there I was with the cookies."
The cookies, at that time, were exclusive to men's basketball. That is until former women's basketball coach Curt Miller saw Melchi delivering her treats to Orr and his players.
"(Miller) said, 'Well our team would like cookies, too.'"
When the Falcon basketball teams played in Anderson Arena, Melchi would put the cookies for student-athletes on top of the water station before games and a staff member would take the cookies back to the locker room.
"The girls would see the cookies at halftime and I had several of the girls tell me that kept them going through the game," Melchi said.
And that's what made it worth it for her.
The process has changed a little now at the new Stroh Center. Student-athletes and coaches are given a plate of treats to share after the game is over.
And rarely does she repeat recipes (unless they are requested).
"Very, very rarely do I make chocolate chip cookies because everyone makes chocolate chip," she said. "I always try to come up with something different.
"The Chocolate Raspberry Squares are a favorite of the women's basketball team, particularly when they are made with white chocolate."
Her recipes have been collected over the years from magazines and cookbooks.
In addition to baking for athletic teams, Melchi also takes a day off of work around Christmas and makes at least 10 varieties of cookies for family and friends.
"I enjoy it a lot. I have to work to support my baking habit," she laughed.
For those trying out these recipes, she recommended using real butter.
"With the Pecan Sandies, you have to use real butter or it won't be good. They melt in your mouth."
•2 cups butter (no substitutes) softened
•1 cup confectioners’ sugar
•2 tablespoons water
•4 teaspoons vanilla extract
•4 cups all-purpose flour
•2 cups chopped pecans
•Additional confectioners’ sugar
Preheat over to 300 degrees. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add water and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour. Fold in pecans. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten balls with fingers. Back 20-25 minutes until set. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar when cool. Makes about five dozen cookies.
Chocolate Raspberry Squares
•1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
•2 cups flour
•½ cup packed light brown sugar
•¼ teaspoon salt
•2 cups semi-sweet chocolate (or white chocolate) chips, divided
•1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
•1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
•½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 baking pan. Beat butter in mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, sugar and salt until crumbly. With floured fingers, press 1 ¾ cups mixture into bottom of baking pan, reserving remaining mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Combine 1 cup chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in small saucepan. Warm over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over hot crust. Stir nuts into remaining crust mixture and crumble over chocolate filling. Drop teaspoonfuls of raspberry jam over crumb mixture. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan before cutting squares.