A basket full of cookies is great for a host; line it with decorative tissue or a pretty dishtowel as a bonus.
By Jan Norris
A whole lot of baking is going on right about now — cookies are a universal holiday gift. Hardly anyone turns down a cookie.
Make-ahead cookies are great for time-pressed cooks. We love the gingersnaps recipe given out by the pastry chef at The Ritz Carlton [RECIPE]; we’ve already made two batches and put them in the freezer for whenever someone drops in, or as an “emergency”
A number of cookie doughs will work as slice-and-bakes. In one afternoon, you could make several cookie doughs, roll them into logs and freeze them, to bake whenever you need them.Alternately, you can flatten the same dough into two or three disks, to roll and cut out into shapes later on, as desired. These also can be frozen for up to two months.
Once the cookies are baked, get creative with the packaging. A tin is the basic, easy way out, and available in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Even if using something so simple, line it with pretty tissue and parchment paper. (To keep cookies from shaking and breaking, fill in between cookies with an ingredient in the cookie or another tasty treat: Chocolate chips, nuts, gum drops, peppermints or cinnamon candies work well.)Any container can become packaging for cookies. Pull decorations from the sewing or craft room, or use the computer to print out paper, or motifs to glue to ordinary boxes. Add a big bow, and you have a lovely, heartfelt gift.
Maybe you’re not a baker. Ask around and find someone else who’s planning to bake, and offer to buy ingredients if they’ll bake some for you. This time of year, bakeries, green markets and specialty stores have holiday cookies on the shelves or take orders.Bring them home and repackage them into a pretty, secondary gift for the host or hostess. Here are some ideas:
Chinese take-out food boxes work great. Line plain white ones with bright red waxed tissue. Ask your local Chinese restaurant for a couple, or find them at party supply stores.Bakery boxes look professional and make your cookies look expensive — even store-bought ones. Trim the box with a pretty ribbon; decorate with a nice seal to fasten the box. Find these at cake-supply stores in a number of different sizes.
Pretty holiday plates make nice, reusable containers — especially for frosted cookies that need to lay flat. Find them in a variety of sizes, one of a kind, at area thrift stores. Wrap them in clear cellophane and tie the top with a twist tie, then wire-edged ribbon.
Bar cookies, fudge and flat, slice-and-bake cookies look nice in stacks. Find clear or decorative cellophane bags at party stores or cake supply stores and slide a stack carefully into one. To prevent sticking, slip a small square of waxed paper between each cookie. If need, stabilize the bag with a square of chipboard placed in the bottom.
Use a mug to pack a half-dozen favorites for a coffee- or tea-lover. Pack the cookies in the cup and overwrap with cellophane. Tie a box of tea or coffee to the mug.If you’re giving a large number of cookies, consider packing them in a cookie canister. It’s also reusable and keeps the cookies fresh. Put waxed paper between layers of any cookies you stack.
If giving cookies to another baker, pack them in a mixing bowl, with the recipe. Or, measure out only the dry ingredient, place in a sealed plastic bag inside the bowl, and send the cook instructions for finishing the cookies. Tie the whole thing up in a pretty kitchen towel.