To thank hospital staff who are working around the clock in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City chef Tracy Wilk is “ baking it forward.”
“I needed to do something to help my community,” Wilk told “Good Morning America. “I can’t be a medic, I don’t have medical training, but I just wanted to bake.”
Wilk, who is a professional chef and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, saw the devastating effects of the pandemic first hand since she lives near New York University Medical Center.
“I realize the hardship that they’re going through,” Wilk said. “A lot of those health care workers have been working overtime. I’ve done those days before in the kitchen. A cookie isn’t going to change it but it’s going to help workers on the front lines and those little bits of joy are what makes the day better.”
Wilk was furloughed from her job and decided to help medical workers with the extra time she had on her hands.
She reached out in a Facebook group with several health care workers from NYU asking if they could accept cookies, and their immediate response was a resounding yes.
After dropping off her first batch of baked goods, she was inspired to have others bake too for health care workers in their area. Wilk came up with the hashtag #BakeItForward to get others to participate.
“I think for me, this really started as a way to keep my sanity. I’m not a person who can sit at home all day,” Wilk said. “There’s so much trauma, but doing this has helped my mental health and giving back is one of the most rewarding things you can do.”
Since she’s started, she’s received an outpouring of support from her friends, family and even strangers who just want to help provide the ingredients she needs.
So far, Wilk has received more than $2,000 to purchase ingredients but said she only gathers what she needs and has donated the rest to City Harvest, a local nonprofit in New York City for those who are food insecure.
“I really try to live my life with kindness and always try to pay it forward,” she added. “I think we’re stronger together.”
For those that want to #BakeItForward, Wilk has provided some tips on how to get started:
1. Reach out on social media
When Wilk first launched on the project, she reached out to medical workers in a Facebook group to confirm her baked goods could be accepted. She also recommends using the Next Door app to connect with workers or reaching out to a local police station or firehouse.
Bake tasty treats. Wilk recommends baked items like cookies or bars since they are easy to eat and many health care workers can just grab them on the go.
3. Drop your items off
Wilk said that before you drop your baked goods off, make sure you can do it contactless. “I wanna stress that if you’re gonna do this, you’re following the right protocol,” she said.
Not sure what to bake? Here are a few of Chef Tracy Wilk’s recipes to try:
Sprinkle Some Joy Cookies
makes ~24 cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nonpareil sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two half-sheet trays with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or an electric hand mixer works great!), cream together butter, and granulated sugar. You want to mix on medium-high speed until the butter is fluffy and there are no lumps. This will take about 4-6 minutes, depending on the temperature of the butter, making sure to stop and scrape the sides often.
4. Once the ingredients are creamed, stream in your eggs into the creamed butter, mixing until well combined. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined.
5. Add your dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
6. Scoop cookies using a cookie scoop and toss into the sprinkles sugar. Place onto the half sheet trays, leaving room for the cookies to spread.
7. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until the centers are cooked through. Allow cookies to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from sheet tray.
makes ~24 squares
2 tablespoons butter
1 bag mini marshmallows
5 cups rice Krispy cereal
12 Oreos, crushed
1 cup white chocolate chips
1. In a large pot, melt butter. I like to get mine a little bit past melted and just beginning to brown.
2. Add marshmallows and stir over low heat until they melt.
3. Add remaining ingredients and toss well to combine. Pour into a pre-greased 9x13 baking pan and allow it to cool. Remove from pan and slice into 24 squares.