At Macrina, we love baking and we love community. The annual holiday cookie exchange is a great example of this—each cookie a story, each an act of love. It’s a time to visit your neighbors and share good tidings. Not much tops baking family recipes with friends, but when you don’t have the time, Macrina has you covered. Our collection of 20 holiday cookies, sold in a reusable Panibois wooden baking box, will bring joy to your friends and neighbors. Each of the six delicious types of cookie has a story and a distinct flavor.
Read our blog to hear how one of Macrina’s partners, Michelle Galvin, has rekindled and nurtured dear friendships through an annual holiday cookie baking gathering and to learn more about our Holiday Cookie Box.
A few years after college, newly married and busy establishing a career, finding time to visit with dear friends was a challenge. In high school, Trina, Kerri and I would spend whole days together, talking every day. But now, despite the desire, we barely saw each other.
With Christmas approaching, we made a promise we’d start a new tradition: a holiday cookie party. We all loved baking and revered the neighborly tradition of the cookie exchange. What better way to reconnect than spending an afternoon sharing and baking family recipes together?
At the first gathering, Trina brought a vintage pizzelle maker. The family heirloom looked, uh, well-loved. It was easy to imagine the hundreds or thousands of thin wafer-like cookies it had produced over the years. Making 200 pizzelles alone would be a monotonous task, but the repetitive task of spooning dollop after dollop of dough into the rustic pizzelle iron with friends made it fun. We laughed a lot and had plenty of time to catch up.
Next, Trina taught us her Nonna’s biscotti recipe, the best in all of Montecatini she’d claimed. Her “trick” was to toast the almonds before adding them to the dough. Nothing satisfies the need for crunch like biscotti do, and I loved hearing the stories of Trina’s grandmother.
Since only two baking sheets could fit in the oven at a time, we spent an entire Saturday baking. It was like old times, talking of matters big and small, remembering old stories and sharing new ones. And at the end of it, we each had a large box of cookies to share with our friends, neighbors and family.
We promised we’d do it again the next year. And we did. And the year after that, too. Sometime in the early aughts, one of us showed up with a special holiday cookie edition of Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. We tried making her Chocolate Crackle Cookies. Soon our hands were sticky with chocolate dough. But they were so delicious straight from the oven—chocolate crack-le!—I worried we wouldn’t have enough to give away. Of course, they got added to the yearly event. Even after all these years, Kerri and Trina still debate whether they should be crisp or chewy and how long to bake them. I love them both ways—and both of them—so I sit back and enjoy the playful debate.
As we added cookies, we also added kids. Gingerbread cookies with bright white royal frosting and decorated sugar cookies made their way onto our cookie trays. With the many small helping hands, the mess grew exponentially. The number of hands helping clean up did not! But the kids were thrilled to help. Though some of them struggled just a little to part with the cookies, they were all proud to present their teachers with plates of cookies they’d helped make.
Not only did I catch up with my friends, but now we also traded parenting secrets and potty training strategies. Later those stories included the challenges of starting new schools, puberty and middle school, sharing the car keys with new drivers, and college tours.
Not that it was all free of tragedy. At one gathering, midway through the pizzelle making, Trina dropped the heirloom iron and it broke. (Thank goodness, it was her—not me!) We raced out to a fancy kitchen store for a replacement. It sufficed but didn’t make cookies anywhere nearly as good, or as beautiful. So, we took to eBay for a replacement, carefully inspecting images and bidding patiently. Three years later, we had not one but two vintage pizzelle makers—exact replicas—safe cover if the dropsies came over us again.
With more kids and more plates of cookies to assemble, the single oven was a bottleneck. So, we ventured down to the Macrina test kitchen in Kent. The kitchen had so much space and fancy ovens galore. We were like pros in there. In just three hours, we had plates and plates of cookies, and we’d barely broken a sweat! We realized that the point of the gathering wasn’t about speed and efficiency (although the convection oven with rotating racks that baked all our cookies evenly was amazing), but nurturing friendships of more than 40 years. We’re back to the two cookie sheets oven.
Fortunately, it is the exception when time and circumstance doesn’t allow for our annual event. The few times it has happened, all three of us were very grateful that we could count on the fabulous bakers at Macrina. Sure, we missed the time together. But we were still able to bring our friends, family and neighbors lovely gift boxes of homemade holiday cookies we could be proud of.
Macrina Holiday Cookie box is an assortment of 20 cookies bundled in a reusable Panibois wooden baking box. It contains:
3 Chocolate Crinkle
3 Mexican Wedding Balls
4 Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti
4 Pecan Rosemary Shortbread