Only, like, my fifth baking question
December 7, 2015 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Every year, I bake about a billion cookies. Okay, more like two or three thousand, but it feels like a billion. I then deliver and ship them all over the world, to friends and family. Every year, I bake the same 6 cookie types, plus 2 additional rotating types that, if they're good enough, can be added to the repertoire for the following year. I need suggestions for this year's two new types.


1. Must travel well: no super crumbly/delicate types, no breakable shapes. Sturdy cookies. Nothing that expires quickly. We package very tightly, but no, like, raw fruit or who knows what else.

2. Must be cheap to make, and no unusual ingredients. I love making white chocolate macadamia cookies, but I cannot afford to make 8 batches of them. Baking happens this weekend, so no time for sourcing of specialty ingredients.

3. Must not overlap one of our existing types: snickerdoodle, peanut butter, crispy oatmeal, Spritz butter, oatmeal cranberry, chocolate chip. Also rice krispy treats, but those don't really count, we put them in as cookie shock absorbers.

4. No tree nuts, or adaptable to make without, without sacrificing the soul of the cookie.

5. No fussiness. That is, no cutouts, no fiddly shapes, no sandwich cookies, no decorating. The fussiest we get is rolling snickerdoodles in their prerequisite sugar mixture, and peanut butter cookie crosshatches.

We have ~50 hours, minus time for sleep, to bake ~3,000 cookies total, so we need efficient, awesome cookie recipes!

posted by rachaelfaith to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 100 users marked this as a favorite
Santa's Thumbprints! This recipe calls for walnuts, but I'd skip 'em. Just a cookie dough, with jam. So good, so easy!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:56 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I see no gingerbread in your list! I have had these delicious soft gingerbread cookies and they are amazing.
posted by yawper at 12:58 PM on December 7, 2015 [10 favorites]

Boot track cookies cook quickly in a waffle maker, and you can sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with quick peppermint glaze (my preference). Goes faster with more/larger waffle makers.
posted by rhapsodie at 12:59 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

We (well, my roommate) made these eggnog cookies last night and they are incredible, and easily meet your requirements I think.
posted by jaksemas at 1:00 PM on December 7, 2015

I make these every Christmas. Difficulty level is about the same as peanut butter cookies and you can make the dough ahead of time. I can't post a link right now but it's a very common recipe.
posted by bookmammal at 1:00 PM on December 7, 2015

Biscotti keep for weeks, are sturdy and hard, and don't require any rolling out. There are lots of variations, many without nuts and if there are add-ins like dried fruit, you can just omit or add what you like. Here's one: cherry chocolate chip (Just omit the almond extract. You won't miss it.)
posted by alligatorpear at 1:06 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've made the Chocolate crinkles that melissasauraus mentions above and they are both delicious and sturdy. Another plus, they don't seem to go stale for a long time. Please note (as I did not originally) you must chill the dough over night for manageability. This is important when trying to get your baking schedule/ timing just right.
posted by JennyJupiter at 1:08 PM on December 7, 2015

Chocolate shortbread! I regularly hack this recipe to make them in volume - see below. They have a good level of salt and would be great with some extra spice in them (cinnamon and a dash of cayenne?). If you want to dress them up, add a drizzle of powdered sugar glaze.

Step 1. just make the cookie. skip the filling.
Step 2. turn them into a slice and bake - super easy to generate a ton of cookies quickly. form the dough into a log or a 2" square block, wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and chill. slice about 1/8" thick and bake.
posted by jenquat at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2015

Make these ginger molasses cookies, but add 1 1/2 tsp. of powdered ginger and a scant 1/4 tsp. of powdered cayenne with the rest of the spices, and about 10% more molasses than the recipe calls for. They are the best.
posted by gauche at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, side note: you are kind of my hero. Those pictures through the years are awe-inspiring.
posted by alligatorpear at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

One Christmas cookie my family makes each year is the None Such Mincemeat Prize Cookie. An easy dried apple, raisin, and orange peel flavored drop cookie that stores and ships well (we do not glaze the cookie). The condensed mince meat can be found at most supermarkets and it does contain trace amounts of ground beef, so is not vegetarian cookie. The recipe is printed on the side of the box.
posted by bCat at 1:17 PM on December 7, 2015

Biscotti with orange zest and fresh cracked black pepper. Trust.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:20 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Ritz Bits peanut butter mini crackers dipped in melted chocolate (I use Almond Bark; you could use semi-sweet). Pull each one out with a fork, shake off the excess chocolate, and lay them out on waxed paper. Before they dry, sprinkle with jimmies or sprinkles or non-pareils or whatever you call them.

I also vote for gingersnaps.

And I vote that you insert Reese's mini PB cups into your peanut butter cookies after they come out of the oven, instead of the fork cross-hatch. More expensive, but mmmmm.
posted by CathyG at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2015

Similar to jenquat's suggestion: flavored shortbread. I'm partial to this coffee & cardamom version (don't cut them out individually or dip them in chocolate; just roll into a log, chill, then slice & bake), but depending on your tastes and available ingredients you could omit the coffee/cardamom and instead add chai spices, pumpkin spices, five spices, toasted coconut, lemon zest, orange zest & rosemary, or pretty much anything else that sounds good.
posted by rebekah at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh! How about a Jewish flavor? Mandelbrot is like biscotti, only Jewish! Very Easy! Delicious!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2015

These Iced Pumpkin Cookies fulfill all of your requirements (Because of their double leavening, their consistency is closer to a cake). Every time i've made them, i've gotten multiple requests for the recipe.

They also freeze excellently (i sometimes actually prefer them frozen)
posted by softlord at 1:38 PM on December 7, 2015

Anzac Biscuits (cookies)

I know not many Americans use Golden Syrup, but I can find it in my dinky little supermarket in small town Indiana, while it's not super cheap for a bottle ($5) you get a LOT of cookies out of it. It's not Corn syrup, you can often find it in the UK section of your supermarket. I've heard of maple syrup being used in a pinch. I prefer unsweetened coconut there is so much sugar in them the sweetened stuff you find everywhere works fine too.

They were made to last & to package & ship during world war 1 so tough as nails shipping wise & are different from any other cookie/biscuit I've ever found in the US because of the golden syrup flavour.
posted by wwax at 1:42 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

These Italian cornmeal cookies are excellent, easy to make, and don't seem to overlap with anything you're already doing.
posted by neroli at 1:46 PM on December 7, 2015

I see no brownies. Wrap them individually and let your loved ones revel in chewy fudgy goodness.
posted by mochapickle at 1:47 PM on December 7, 2015

A couple ideas:
- similar to the flavored shortbread - I've done lemon verbena and lavender versions, both were huge hits
- These cookies, but use andes mint chips instead of the chocolate chunks
- pfeffernusse
- anything from averie
posted by Ms Vegetable at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know not many Americans use Golden Syrup,

If I were substituting for golden syrup, I would use agave, not maple. I've cooked with Golden Syrup and while it doesn't taste exactly like agave, both have that weird buttery-yet-not-butter thing going on.
posted by Frowner at 2:09 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Holly cookies, which are basically cornflakes, marshmallow, butter, green food dye and red hots.
Super easy, travel well.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies* via All Recipes are glorious!
*Hoping this does not overlap the other two oatmeal based cookie recipes.
posted by axismundi at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2015

These molasses spice cookies have been my go-to holiday bake-and-ship cookie for a few years now, and they've been really well received. The dough is nice to work with, they ship well and they're delicious. One year out of necessity I used salted butter and a flaked sea salt (instead of regular iodized) and it only improved the recipe. I've made them that way ever since.

If you decide to try them out, one thing I've had good results with is beating the butter and sugar for longer than the recipe says, until it's almost like whipped cream. Also, I don't use the optional glaze.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Icebox Shortbread cookies! These are easy to make and cook, require minimal shaping, and can easily be modified for different flavors. They ship very well.
posted by djinn dandy at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2015

Ginger cookies from Chez Panisse. You definitely need some ginger in there! These are easy and ship well. I use fancy molasses from the grocery store.
posted by bluebelle at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2015

Doesn't exactly meet your criteria, but a nice twist on peanut butter cookies (if you'd like to mix that one up as well) is to add Hershey kisses.
posted by salvia at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Red Velvet Cookie! - it's basically a chocolate cookie with red food die. Most recipes have a cream cheese topping but I prefer with no frosting and just a sprinkle of salt on top. I can't recommend a specific recipe unfortunately.
posted by muddgirl at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2015

How would you feel about candy making? Fudge can be done in decent quantity, and candied orange slices in on my particular "cookie" list this year as my non-yearly treat. Last year I did homemade marshmallows. (Our packing material is usually good quality dried fruit.)

Something gingery would compliment your current list--molasses cookies or gingerbread. So would jam thumbprints or shortbread.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:22 PM on December 7, 2015

N'thing chocolate crinkles (link is vegan, from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, this is my favorite recipe for them).

Biscotti are also a very good idea.
posted by snaw at 3:45 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

These chocolate shortbread cookies are really good and really easy. You can use dark cocoa and chocolate chips or regular; either way is equally good. The only possible problem is that, although they're not terribly delicate, it's possible they might be a bit too crumbly for your purposes.
posted by Redstart at 3:45 PM on December 7, 2015

Mexican hot chocolate cookies! Here's a recipe though I use a vegan recipe that doesn't have chocolate chips. They're spicy and hearty and people like 'em.

Also maybe citrus cookies?
posted by kendrak at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Peanut Blossoms are incredibly good, but perhaps too delicate and too fussy (work-wise) for your needs. They are basically a Hershey's kiss on top of a peanut butter cookie. But perhaps you could adapt the recipe to better fit your constraints? Like find a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie recipe that you like?
posted by Michele in California at 4:02 PM on December 7, 2015

I make these Rosemary Butter Cookies all the time. I double the rosemary. You roll them into a log, freeze it, then you just slice and bake them. And they're pretty sturdy, crunchy cookies, so they ship well. They're delicious and always always get tons of compliments.

(I make them for the Mefi cookie swap every year, and also sent some to my secret Quonsar person. Here's a second opinion from a mefite that they're delicious.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 5:03 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Rum balls!
Toffee saltines (impolitically known as "Christmas crack" and other variations) -- you can also make them with graham crackers or other types of cookies/crackers. Make toffee (sugar/butter) mixture to go on top, bake, toss some chocolate chips on top, and spread them when they start to melt.
And I second marshmallows if you're up for some light candy-making. Very easy, look impressive, and keep for weeks. Just put them in their own plastic container so they don't get squashed.
posted by chickenmagazine at 5:48 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These are not cookies, but they are AMAZING:
Apple Cider Caramels from The Smitten Kitchen
- no nuts
- travel very well
- a little fussy in terms of the timing but not in terms of wrapping
- they keep for at least two weeks
- very memorable and addictive

Otherwise: I'd second the ginger/molasses cookies or biscotti. Biscotti will keep for weeks so it could be a nice addition to the stash for a later treat!
posted by barnone at 5:57 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

These ginger cookies are really easy, but don't taste that way, and are the new favorite cookie of about 90% of the people who taste them. They do require crystallized ginger, which you can find in the bulk bin of pretty much any grocery store and isn't exorbitantly expensive.
posted by charmedimsure at 6:01 PM on December 7, 2015

These coconut orange cookies are also delicious and super-easy and would be a good contrast to the others on your list.
posted by charmedimsure at 6:03 PM on December 7, 2015

Response by poster: Awesome suggestions here, thanks everyone.

I had already considered a chocolate crinkle cookie, and the mint version sounds amazing. Some form of these are probably a shoo-in.

Second spot will likely go to a gingersnap/gingerbread cookie, or possibly a shortbread. Also considering a citrus flavor, to brighten up things a little.

I will post photos as this weekend progresses, if you feel like checking in :)
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:12 AM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Meringues (peppermint)
Meringues (espresso w/wo chocolate)

Or invent your own flavor. You can make dollops with a spoon, but they look better piped from a pastry bag (Ziploc will do in a pinch). They are practically weightless.

Buckeyes - not technically a cookie, but people ask for them every year. Don't use "natural" PB, but do use coconut oil (not shortening) in the chocolate for a less melty consistency at room temperature.

Coconut macaroons - chocolate optional

All of the above are gluten free.

Biscochitos - the New Mexico state cookie.
posted by caryatid at 11:14 AM on December 8, 2015

Mini black and white cookies!
posted by eggkeeper at 5:57 PM on December 8, 2015

Response by poster: Sorry I wasn't able to update during the weekend; as usual, the baking was out of control. We baked a total of 3,200 cookies. Here is a photo of the final spread.

I made the chocolate crinkle cookies, but without mint, as my baking partner rejects anything minty. I used the ATK recipe, which uses both cocoa powder and melted unsweetened baking chocolate, which made them extremely rich and delicious (most recipes only use cocoa powder). However! They were very soft! And the powdered sugar falls off fairly easily! So they really were not great candidates for shipping, but they were intensely tasty, and beautiful.

If we make them again next year, they may only make it only local folks' platters, and not get shipped.

Thank you all, now I have lots of possibilities for the years to come.
posted by rachaelfaith at 2:50 PM on December 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

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