OK, we know you’re going to call us a Grinch, but some holiday cookie tins are terrible. You know the ones we mean. The tin comes all a-jumble, with busted cookies here and there, and a crusty dusting of sparkling sugar coating everything.
Don’t send a 2020 metaphor in baked good form to the people you love. Send the very best cookies you can. Here’s how we’d do it:
1. Organize Your Swap
OK, so you’re a Polish cookie obsessive, and your buddy Sheila is really good at Slavic baking. That’s whose cookies you want. You happen to be really good at classics, like linzers and sugar cookies, and your friend Bob goes crazy for those, but is renowned for his rugelach. You see where we’re going here. If your crew is going to fight over Bob’s rugelach, pull straws. But each friend should pick only one other for whom to make a tin of cookies. And if those boxes are just two or three cookies this year, that’s fine. Focus on our hottest cookie recipes of 2020 and build your own network of cookie fans. And, if you want to be surprised and organize your swap Secret Santa style, websites such as elfster and Secret Santa Organizer will help you get the job done.
2. The Packaging
OK, yes, you can get away with three or four or five cookies this year, no problem. But remember that in addition to balancing flavors, colors, and textures, you need to pack them just so. If your tin is too big or deep for the number of cookies you want to place it in, we suggest lining the bottom with crinkled sheets of tissue paper or filler. No one wants to receive busted cookies or crushed dreams in the mail. Consider festive flourishes like red and white twine and holiday-themed cupcake liners, but err on the side of organized packaging. If you’re looking for the perfect receptacle in which to send your treats, you have the perfect excuse for a few pre-Christmas purchases because, as luck would have it, the tins for our Peppermint Bark and Hot Chocolate Mix are just the right size for cookie packaging.
2. Consider Texture
No, no, no. Don’t jam these beauties into an unforgiving tin. Nor anything too melty, too sticky. You know what holds up? Butter cookies. Sugar cookies. Twice-baked biscotti and meringues. Now we’re talkin’.
3. Jam Out
Whether you’re a linzer person or a windowpane person, you should have one jammy cookie in the mix. Someone out there really wants one. They add color and they’re awesome. It lends a pop of color and a chewy fruitiness to a tin that otherwise focuses on sugar, chocolate and spice.
Does your house smell like nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves yet? Well, what on earth? Get rocking on some gingerbread, if you’re a fan, and save money on scented candles.
6. The Prettiest Iced Sugar Cookies
OK, so you can’t live without including eight different cookies in your tin. You are a glutton for punishment, or variety, or buttery iced sugar cookies. This is the primer you want. With crack tips like getting gel food coloring from the craft supply store, food stylist Cathie Lopez walked us through how to make incredible, so-good-looking-you-want-to-hand-out-cash when they arrive in the mail cookies. It’s the fastest way to use one dough to make bears and stars, mittens and kittens, boots and drums this holiday season.
OK, now set the time and date, send out the Zoom invites, and get your cocoa ready. You and your buddies can unwrap beautifully packaged little tins, exclaim and compare notes, and be oh-so-jolly this holiday season.