For the third year in a row at the Red Apron we have revived an age old tradition – the Christmas Cookie Exchange. The concept is simple: gather your friends and family, bake your favourite cookie recipe, and everyone takes home a sampling of each.
These events can sometimes be compared to sale day at Filenes Basement, with participants kicking, punching, and elbowing their way to the best goods. But ours was quite civilized, although it did include mulled wine and spiked apple cider!
Who knows where this tradition started. Many cultures share a history of community baking. The ruins of Pompeii show evidence of public ovens where people brought their bread to be baked and through the ages communities all over the world often shared public ovens which would be fired up daily, or weekly. These ovens became a community gathering place, where stories were told, problems were solved, and women found companionship and support. I like to think that this is the root of the Cookie Exchange.
Our staff work hard to put great food on the table for our clients and this time of year is especially busy. It doesn’t always leave us a lot of time to do our own preparations for the holiday season. So a few Sundays ago we gathered to bake.
Many pounds of butter, chocolate and flour later – we went home to stuff our cupboards and freezers with a selection of tasty treats. The favourites of the day were Justine’s Millionaire Shortbread cookies which took top prize for the most intricate and exciting cookie with layers of shortbread, chocolate and dulce la leche…mmmmm… Jo-Ann’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls were the easiest no-bake kid friendly. We all enjoyed his Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies too!