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Opening Ceremonies-worthy treats

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With Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at our doorstep, the Opening Ceremonies are a day to celebrate...which means time to start baking. The Opening Ceremonies signify the world's countries, big and small, coming together to face each other in physical competitions of honor and valor.

In today's world full of strife and conflict, it is amazing that this Olympic tradition holds fast to the hearts of those all over the globe; perhaps in a way that no other event or concept has been able to do.

While it is modest in comparison to the widespread impact of the Olympic Games, baking seems to have a similar gathering effect...who doesn't come running to the kitchen from corners of the house for freshly baked chocolate chip cookies?

So, why not create your own Olympic effect and bake, gather and enjoy the Opening Ceremonies this year and bring some warmth to the winter games! There are many recipes and ideas that you can try that are easy and festive, from torches to rings!

Pass on the Torch Cupcakes

All you need to do to create some edible torches is buy ice cream cones and mix up your favorite box or from-scratch cake batter and pour the batter into the cones, and bake according to box or recipe directions! After letting the cone cupcakes cool, whip up (or open) your favorite vanilla frosting and color it a firey red or orange. Next, pipe a towering flame on your cupcakes to create a torch that you won't spend much time holding before you heroically take a bite...

Olympic Ring Cookies

The trick to these cookies is a cookie cutter and colored frosting. Make your favorite dough (any flavor!) and roll it out to a thin, even layer. Take one round cookie cutter and cut out disks. Then, with a smaller round cutter (smaller enough to leave a thick enough ring) cut out the middles of the disks to make rings.

After baking for the appropriate time for your dough, let the cookies cool and then frost with olympic red, yellow, blue, green and black. (You can also do this by rolling your dough into snakes and forming rings with your hands, but they may look a little less circular)

Flags of the World Cookies

For some international pride, and a recipe for the artist inside of you, you can decorate any cookie dough to look like flags of your favorite olympic team countries! Bake a cookie sheet of solid dough so it comes out as one big rectangle. Then, slice your cooked sheet into rectangles so you have a bunch of "flags." Next, put different basic colors into separate piping bags (or plastic zip bags with the corner cut off) and copy the designs of countries' flags.

Whatever recipe you try, it is sure to gather a group of eager Olympic game watchers! Bring your family, friends, or community together by baking and remember what values the Olympics were formed off of.

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