The holiday march continues—no matter what you do, the days get shorter and the list of demands gets longer. Parties, presents, late nights and crowded parking lots. Have you started that fruitcake yet, have you planned the party menus?
But there is one event I look forward to every year—the cookie swap at my office. We started it quite a few years ago, and have managed to keep it going through re-assignments and retirements. It comes up quickly after Thanksgiving and even with a new and eye-catching poster every year, I still make my rounds, haranguing people to participate. And everyone who does is glad they did.
Not only for the cookie haul, but for the moment of relaxation and pride when we survey all our cookies laid out on platters before we pounce. Pearlman and Bayer know that feeling. Their cookie swap has become a tradition of 20 years; a small respite amid holiday harrying.
The recipes here are ones they’ve collected over those years and are a good range of flavors and complexity. Chocolate Thumbprints had me meticulously molding cookies and filling them with melted chocolate, but with chapters of simple drop cookies like Cowboy Cookies or slice and bake cookies with flavors from Orange Pistachio Slices to Ultimate Double Chocolate, you can have the sweets without the sweat.
The recipes could have used headnotes. Sometimes you want to know if those Sugar Cookies are going to be flat and crispy or cakey and chewy. But some of the recipes do come with a story. I already have the perfect Molasses Cookies recipe (check out Brer Rabbit) but you may want to stage your own cookie swap cook-off between Marybeth’s Mom’s Favorite Cookie and Lala’s Molasses Cookie.
Along with cookies and candy recipes, Pearlman and Bayer include baking tips. But the real point of all this is the party, so they offer tips for setting up a group—including exclusive and lifetime memberships and what to feed this group—a bottle of wine from each participant gets the party going and recipes for Artichoke Dip, Spicy Tomato Soup, and more keep it going.
After all, even bakers can’t survive on cookies alone!