If your email is anything like mine, it’s overflowing with articles and promotions about baking holiday cookies. It seems this quaint tradition is very much alive in the food world and in our neighborhood. This week we stopped by an annual cookie swap hosted by a friend who was inspired to continue the tradition started by her mother, a scion of the neighborhood, who passed away years ago.
“I remember by mom would have a lovely tea and everyone would bring cookies to exchange, but I’ve taken it to a whole new level,” she told the Buzz. A lavish buffet of tea sandwiches and a stunning croquembouche – Christmas-tree shaped tower of pastry-cream filled pâte à choux held together with caramelized sugar made by the hostess – greeted guests in the dining room table. On the adjacent veranda filled with potted blooming narcissus and amaryllis about to burst, guests could help themselves to wine, sparkling wine, and water. She had certainly raised the culinary bar of the quaint afternoon cookie swap.
The family dining room and kitchen were filled with platters and plates of cookies brought by guests for everyone to sample then swap. Each guest was asked to bring six dozen of her favorite holiday cookie and then invited to package up six dozen to take home for her family or give as a gift nicely wrapped in adorable baskets provided by the hostess.
Some cookies were family favorites, others were crowd pleasers that get invited back each year, and some were collaborations with their children who love to bake, in some cases, even more than their moms.
We brought a personal favorite — chocolate crunch shortbread – from a recipe my niece found in the Wall Street Journal several years ago. (Hopefully this link will work for non-subscribers, if not, please email us.) We took home, not one but two baskets, of cookies sampling as many as we could fit. We can honestly report, this is delicious neighborhood tradition.