Attending a cookie swap? We asked 3 experts for cooking-making advice (and recipes ) – Berkshire Eagle

Attending a cookie swap? We asked 3 experts for cooking-making advice (and recipes ) – Berkshire Eagle

It’s time for the annual cookie swap — when groups of coworkers, neighbors or friends bake six dozen cookies (or more depending on the number of participants) to exchange and take home a platter filled with holiday goodness.

A curated collection of our holiday “cookie of the week” recipes. 

If you’ve never attended a cookie swap, the idea of making six dozen cookies might seem like an insurmountable task. Or, you might think that your contribution needs to be a masterpiece with meticulously piped frosting and perfect icing that’s dusted with colorful sanding sugar that glistens when the light hits it just right. It doesn’t.

To put your mind at ease, we sought out a few experts for cookie-making advice for bakers of every level: Brandi Scalise, a Pittsfield resident and author of “Cookie Classics Made Easy;” Charlotte Rutledge, King Arthur Baking Company’s recipe testing and development manager; and Gesine Bullock-Prado, cookbook author, host of “Baked in Vermont” on Food Network, and pastry and baking instructor at Sugar Glider Kitchen, a baking school she runs in Hartford, Vt.

Q: What cookies work best for a cookie swap?

Bullock-Prado: Family recipes are my favorite cookie swap contributions because they are meaningful and introduce your friends to a bit of your history. They don’t need to be fancy, just delicious.

Rutledge: Refrigerator cookies/slice-and-bake — you’ll get a lot of cookies out of one batch of dough, and you can make swirl, checkerboard and other patterns with two different colored/flavored doughs, so they’ll look pretty, too. And thumbprints are always popular. Whether they are the peanut butter with a chocolate kiss in the middle or the jam-filled ones, those are fairly easy to execute, too.

Q: When attending a cookie swap or just gifting cookies, what is your go-to cookie?

Rutledge: My new holiday cookie favorite is the Hot Cocoa Cookie. They’re a type of thumbprint cookie, easy, and super chocolatey. I’m also a huge fan of shortbread. You can bake them in many different shapes. Many of [King Arthur’s] recipes have you bake the dough in a round cake pan, then cut wedges while still warm, for nice, sharp edges.

Bullock-Prado: I am a fan of butter cookies, German butter cookies, specifically. I developed a browned butter cookie  that I adore for its simplicity and its deliciousness.

Scalise: Winter in the Berkshires is great for a cookie swap. It’s a fun spin on a mint chocolate chip cookie. It’s like an adult version of the Girl Scout’s thin mint cookie.

Q: What are the most common mistakes people make when baking cookies? How can they avoid it?

Scalise: I find a lot of people are intimidated by baking in general. They’re scared they are going to mess up the recipe, so they don’t try. I literally just throw stuff in the mix. If you put extra baking soda in, keep going — it’s going to put a little bit more air in the mix, but it’s …….


Cooking advice