Bringin' home the bakin'
November 2, 2018 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out what to bake this xmas (I like to plan early), given the following caveats -- mostly logistical, not dietary.

Every year, I give baked goods as gifts, and I'm looking for some new ideas. Whatever it is must:

-- be enough for about 60 people (who are not all in the same place)
-- travel well: some by car, some by bus (carried by someone other than me, and I don't want to overburden them) over several days
-- be easy to distribute among groups of several sizes (like cookies, as opposed to, say, cake)
-- ease my workload, if possible

Here's what I'm looking to avoid this year:

-- decorated sugar / spritz cookies (I'm just bored of them, and icing the sugar cookies, in particular, is labour-intensive when you have hundreds)
-- linzers (basically requires twice the baking for the same number of individual cookies)
-- caramels (I'm done with individually wrapping over a thousand candies)
-- candied nuts (easy and well-received but a tad dull and also rather expensive in large quantities)
-- xmas-y brownies (despite the decorations they don't feel so "xmas" to me)

I'm probably looking at some kind of bar cookie. Or maybe you have some cookie-icing hacks.

I do enjoy baking. I just need some help so I don't get overwhelmed. Thank you!
posted by paperback version to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Shortbread cookies are lovely, can be flavored with herbs to be more interesting, and are generally less sweet than other confections. Also I hope somebody gives me some because I love them.
posted by amtho at 2:00 PM on November 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

You could make pfefferneuse, which aren't super well-known yet.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 2:03 PM on November 2, 2018

Best answer: It's candy, but...toffee?Just bust it up into bite-sized need to wrap the individual shards.
posted by jquinby at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

It might be a bit too “low brow” but homemade Chex mix is amazing
posted by raccoon409 at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ooo or peppermint bark would be pretty easy/portable/etc
posted by raccoon409 at 2:07 PM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

“Bar cookie”=biscotti?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 2:07 PM on November 2, 2018

Muddy Buddies - chocolate and powdered sugar covered Chex
Haystacks - butterscotch chow mein noodles
Ice cream cones - Bugles filled with almond bark and topped with an M&M
posted by soelo at 2:10 PM on November 2, 2018

Fudge -- dead easy to make, travels very well, inexpensive, and can be spruced up with crushed peppermint, sprinkles, etc to give a 'Christmasy' feel.
posted by ananci at 2:16 PM on November 2, 2018

Response by poster: “Bar cookie”=biscotti?
Sorry, I meant something more like these.

(I make my caramels on the soft side and they definitely need to be wrapped.)

Thank you for your ideas thus far!
posted by paperback version at 2:17 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I like Smitten Kitchen's Slice & Bake cookies - many varieties depending on what you add to them.
posted by gakiko at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding shortbread. You can roll the dough into logs and then slice and bake, which makes them pretty fast. You can also make one big batch of the base dough, split it, and add different flavors (cranberry and candied orange peel, salt and rosemary, espresso and cardamom, lemon zest and thyme—I really, really like shortbread), which gives you more variety without a ton of extra effort.
posted by rebekah at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nanaimo bars and hermits come to mind as bar/sliced cookies that I personally would love to receive!
posted by MadamM at 2:30 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would DIE for homemade shortbread.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 2:33 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My Gram was a prolific christmas cookie baker. Of the many varieties she baked, the family favorites were toffee bars (bar cookies) and trimmed butter cookies, which were shortbread/butter cookies rolled into logs, then the logs were rolled in red and green sugars (each log a separate color), then sliced and baked. Delicious and very festive on a cookie plate.
posted by sarajane at 2:39 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not highbrow but everyone loves peppermint bark and it's so easy and very Christmassy and portable.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:42 PM on November 2, 2018

Molasses cookies. When rolled in white sugar, it looks like snow.
posted by oflinkey at 2:53 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Everyone sees to love the saltine toffee (aka Christmas crack).

I usually pass out lemon squares. Everyone loves those.

Christmas crackle cookies are lovely

I received snowflake cookies made with cutters like these. They were lemon flavoured, dipped in some kind of thin icing (probably lemon juice and icing sugar) and then dusted with some kind of shimmer sugar. They were gorgeous. They were big so I think I received 6.
posted by Ftsqg at 3:02 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been given a "bouquet" of pretzel logs dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with red and green sprinkles. Dead easy to make and very portable.
posted by telegraph at 3:08 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: oh rum balls are real easy, cheap to make and very festive
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:33 PM on November 2, 2018

If you can make shortbread, you can make millionaires' shortbread!

(It's shortbread for millionaires; it does not cost a million to make.)
posted by Sunburnt at 3:36 PM on November 2, 2018

Best answer: These lemon-glazed cookies with candied ginger are super good, and the glaze looks nice even if it’s just blobbed on (guess how I know!) The ginger feels wintery but the lemon makes them lighter-tasting than most holiday treats. I also like date bars or date pinwheels (Haven’t made those ones specifically.) They are slice and bakes with a nice look to them. Cutting them with unflavored dental floss makes them come out nicer-looking than using a knife.

One thing that might feel less daunting is doing smaller batches of a few different things. I usually do 1-3 normal sized batches of 3-6 different kinds of cookies or candies, giving out a mix, and that keeps me from getting too sick of decorating or making doubles for sandwich cookies or anything like that. I usually do some drop cookies, some slice-and-bake, maybe some bars, and one type of something fussier.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:50 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

The holidays aren't the holidays in my world unless someone makes me butter tarts. You should make those. Or tarts of any type, really. But I recommend butter tarts. With and without nuts to avoid arguments.
posted by cgg at 3:52 PM on November 2, 2018

Stella Parks (Brave Tart) has a ton of recipes on her blog; I plan to try out some new ones this year (maybe Nutter Butters or Fauxreos).
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Having been a very fortunate recipient of rebekah’s variety shortbread for MeFi cookie swap one year, I strongly recommend this option.
posted by dywypi at 4:22 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies. They are slice and bake so you can make the logs ahead of time and they taste best the day after they are baked. My mother-in-law requests them every holiday.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 4:29 PM on November 2, 2018

Response by poster: Apologies; I misread jquinby's answer at first but I see what you mean now!

I'm favouriting the ones that I'm likely to try but the others are great ideas, too. One thing I forgot to mention, though it probably won't affect things much, is that I do live somewhere where it gets cold in December (so when I say "travel well" it's just a portability issue more than anything else).
posted by paperback version at 5:16 PM on November 2, 2018

I made Earl Grey cookies one year - I think I was using a recipe from the Sally Schneider "New Way To Cook", but this one looks good too.

No-bakes are always pretty great.

worldwide cookie inspiration
posted by bunderful at 6:49 PM on November 2, 2018

I love this question. These are exactly the kinds of cookie recipes I look for because I often ship them as gifts.

These chocolate cookies topped with Andes Mints are really easy, make a ton, and when you swirl the top, they can look kind of fancy. I usually do half regular Andes, and half peppermint Andes. The mints harden when they cool, so they aren't sticky.
posted by kimdog at 7:24 PM on November 2, 2018

Kinda like halfway between fudge and caramel? Panucci!
posted by rhizome at 8:48 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Raspberry mazurkas are a pretty, easy-to-make bar cookie that travels extremely well. It has the same flavour profile as a berry crumble, but it’s much sturdier. Festive but a little bit different. I use my mother’s recipe, but this one looks pretty similar.
posted by Concordia at 5:22 AM on November 3, 2018

Borrow from another culture - try some Malaysian Eid/Raya cookies!
posted by divabat at 6:19 AM on November 3, 2018

Tarts work really well in this context. You can either make pastry shells or buy them. If you buy them, tarts are very fast and easy to make. If you make them, less fast and easy. If you plan to buy them, look for someplace that sells lots -- Costco or similar, as they are much, much cheaper in large boxes than if you buy them 12 at a time in the freezer aisle of your grocery store.

These are the recipes my mom uses to make tarts at Christmas: lemon-coconut, butter tarts.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:10 AM on November 3, 2018

Melting Moments (shortbread drops)
1 cup very soft butter
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup corn starch
Beat together, then add
1 cup sifted flour
¼ tsp salt
Beat all together on high speed until it looks like whipped cream
Drop on ungreased baking sheets
Decorate with ½ cherry
Bake 325, 15 minutes
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:43 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I make peppermint meringues and espresso meringues.
posted by caryatid at 2:17 PM on November 4, 2018

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