Have you seen those beautiful cookie boxes that are popping up all over Instagram lately? I am smitten with the cookie box trend. Since "cookie baking season" is my second favorite baking season (first place is obviously Pie week at Thanksgiving) I whipped up a few cookie boxes to mail to friends and family that we won't get to see this Holiday Season.
My Cookie Box Goal: Create a menu of cookies that are nut-free and that will appeal to both young and old.
- Classics: Chocolate Chip, Sugar
- Kid-Friendly: Shortbread Pinwheels, Sugar
- For the Grown Folks: Gingerbread Biscotti, Double Biscoff
- For my chocoholic husband: Triple Chocolate Peppermint
Here are 9 steps to plan to the perfect cookie box.
1. Know Your Audience.
Who is the recipient of your cookie box? This is the most important thing to consider. You don't want your cookies to end up in the trash or worse, re-gifted. Take a few minutes to think about the end recipient. Young nieces that love all of the sprinkles. Grandma and Grandpa who reminisce about the "good old days". Your self-proclaimed "foodie" Brother and Sister. Someone with a known peanut allergy. Your chocoholic co-workers. If you have a very diverse group, pick a few classics (Chocolate Chip. Sugar. Gingerbread) and then personalize.
2. Stay in your Baking Lane
Here's the part where you have to be honest with yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a baker? Choose a cookie that will be definite "win". Let that 'strengths' cookie be the anchor of your cookie box. I have this chocolate chip cookie recipe memorized, so it was a no-brainer. Now, think about your weakness and pick the easiest cookie in that category. Set the bar low. Literally set it on the ground. Why, because you will have a chance to practice that technique and then it won't be a weakness anymore. I am generally a terrible decorator. I chose a minimalist sugar cookie design with royal frosting.
Bottom line: now is not the time to try the hardest, most technical bake worthy of Great British Bake Off. Choose your recipes wisely.
3. Make a Logistics Plan
Obviously you are going to pick fantastic recipes, but take another minute to think about the logistics. Do all of your cookies require a 2 hour chilling time, or worse, a 48- hour chilling time? Do you have enough equipment to set up an assembly line or will you need to break things up over the course of a couple of days? What is the shelf-life of the cookies you picked? You don't need to set up a minute by minute plan, but you might want to read all of the recipes all the way through.
Think about time and space constraints and delivery method. Remember, you should never mail anything delicate or requires refrigeration.
4. Check your "Basics"
Basics are the baking essentials. Flour. Sugar. Salt. Baking Powder. Baking Soda. Corn Starch. I had to send my poor husband to the store at 10 pm to buy salt. Don't be like me.
5. Go Shopping with a List
I added this because I didn't do this and I ended up in the grocery guestimating how much butter and eggs I needed. I got home and realized that I had 36 sticks of butter. Take all of your recipes and order the ingredients (flour, eggs, butter, etc). This way you know exactly how much you need. Then add a bit extra for screw ups. Trust me.
6. Food Safety is No Joke
You are preparing to send food that other people will eat. Do you want an entire family to come down with food poisoning or worse? Don't end up on the news. A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen. Wear that apron you got for Christmas two years ago. Pull your hair back. Have a great hand-washing station and gloves. Keep your pets out of the kitchen.
Invite your friends or family over to bake. If you don't have friends or family nearby make sure you have an epic playlist.
Basic rule: the packaging should complement your cookies in terms of sizing. As far as design goes, the sky is the limit. You can make an instagram worthy box with twine and specialty boxes. You can also hit up the closest craft store and purchase tins, and a variety of cupcake liners. Or you can just put the cookies in a large Gladware container.
9. Share the Love
This is why I bake. To share a small moment of delight with my family in friends.