Because more cookies are better than fewer cookies…

17 Dec
White Chocolate Dipped Pistachio Chocolate Chunk

GCBO 2007: White Chocolate Dipped Pistachio Chocolate Chunk

Guest post by my sister, Sarah, who is a great baker, party planner, and mom to my niece!

Last year my sister, my mother, and I, along with a little help (well, inspiration anyway) from my then 13 month old daughter, inadvertently stumbled into a baking challenge against my dad and his partner. We were all broke and looking for inexpensive gifts for the holidays, and, without knowing it, we just happened to come up with the same solution: homemade cookies. When we came together on Christmas day, we had a RIDICULOUS amount of cookies, but also a brand new tradition, now dubbed the Great Cookie Bake-Off.

For GCBO 2008 we’re employing a few strategies based on the lessons we learned last year.

Timing…

is everything. It really is. You need to think about which dough needs to be made first. Does one of them need to be refrigerated before baking? If so, start with those and then mix batters for other cookies and bake them while the refrigerated stuff chills out for a while. You also need to think about cooking time. Do any of the cookies require exorbitant amounts of time or special directions? Like perhaps these Chocolate Chip Meringue Drops which require you to leave them in the oven undisturbed for two hours. And that’s after they’re done baking for one hour at a lower-than-typical temperature (250F). (On the flip side, they’re light and airy and therefore good for stacking on top of your finished package – see Packaging below.) And of course, don’t forget to plan ahead and set out items that will need to be at room temperature, like butter.

Baking Temperature –

I highlighted the baking temperature (and the refrigeration time if applicable) for all the recipes we chose and then I created a schedule so cookies baked at the same temperature can go in the oven at the same time.

Packaging –

Think about how you’re going to package and gift wrap the final product. Are you going to simply put everything on a plate and wrap it in tin foil? Perhaps you could use various cardboard take-out boxes? Coffee cans? Maybe the plastic box your pre-washed spinach comes in? Using, or rather reusing, packaging that you purchase on a regular basis (and having the presence of mind to plan ahead and save the containers as you use them) is environmentally friendly and it allows for a personal touch as you are able to decorate them in a variety of ways. Also, don’t forget to consider how the cookies will be stacked. You’ll want heavy 7-layer bars on the bottom and light weight items like peppermint bark (or the aforementioned chocolate chip meringue drops) on top.

Getting the Best Bang For Your Buck –

When planning the menu, consider recipes that allow you to take advantage of that four pound bag of chocolate chips from Costco. Or how about that two pound bag of nuts? Maybe you can find a recipe that calls for ground nuts and another that calls for nut butter and you can make your own for both. Either way, it’s a good way to make the dollar stretch even further.

Happy baking!

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