Anyone who has joined us at our farm Open Houses knows that I know a little bit about making cookies. We set up a table of assorted snacks and drinks for our guests to nibble on while they shop around the barn. There are times when guests/ vendors bring something to share, but most of the time I make about 100 dozen assorted cookies. Despite the number of times I’ve been asked, I do not sell them. It’s basically all-u-can-eat while you’re here.
There are some tricks that I’ve learned over the 6 years we’ve held Open Houses, tricks that help me (all alone, a very good thing!) get a huge quantity and nice variety of cookies made in my small home kitchen in about 2 days’ time.
When I came across pastry chef Stella Parks’ blog BraveTart (She’s a regular contributor to Serious Eats) I saw that I am apparently not the only one who uses these tricks. (No, I didn’t REALLY think that I was, but it was nice to live in blissful ignorance even if just for a little while.)
If you plan on making cookies for giving or guests, please, check out BraveTart’s Holiday Cookie Survival Guide. The tips and suggestions given will make your life so much easier and they’ll make holiday baking much less stressful and more enjoyable. [Hi Fletch! <— added to eliminate the ‘widow’]
Keep things as organized as possible by measuring out dry ingredients all at once, make your dough all at once, decorate all at once…. Assembly lines and factories are efficient because they do things this way. You can too!
Give yourself as much room as possible to work. I put the leaves/extensions in my table and clear every surface (even if that means putting junk into a laundry basket and hiding it in the bedroom). Have out only what you need to do your work.
Above, I have a pile of parchment sheets (reuse them as long as you can, the cookies don’t mind), a cooled cookie station, the cooling cookie racks and the cookie forming station. Use a cookie dough scoop – or ice cream dipper – so your cookies are accurately scaled. Hit up your local restaurant supply house and they’ll have a huge assortment for you to choose from and they’ll most likely be better quality than you’ll get at WalMart.
The assembled cookie trays… yes they were HEAVY. I make up these trays, then use other containers to store cookies to refill these on the snack table. You can do the same if you’re having a big party. No need to put everything out all at once. The late-comers will appreciate a nice looking tray of goodies as much as the early birds.
The countdown is on, and I wish you happy baking!