Monday, January 05, 2015

the art of the holiday cookie exchange

It is rare to think of the holiday season without thinking of a cookie exchange.  Looking back on the past few years, I've been a part of some grand ones.  I'm always impressed by friends and relatives who find new recipes and apply a level of artistic skill to cookies that I never thought possible.  As for me, my recipe choices tend to be classic and favor lots of butter.  So I was right at home one year when I took part in an office cookie exchange at my job in Denmark, where butter is an ingredient embraced by just about everyone.  Cookies, of course, are a universal language.  But compare this buttery approach to office baking in California, where at least a few of your coworkers are guaranteed to replace the butter with applesauce or greek yogurt.  Although I keep an open mind about trying new things, for me nothing says the holidays like a good butter cookie.  
To add some charm to the typical holiday ritual, most of my Copenhagen coworkers biked their treats into work as a part of their daily commute.  Delivering baked goods into the city intact and unscathed by the hazards of commuting is an art, one which I tried my hardest to master on several occasions.  One must not only account for securing the precious desserts, but also for the very unpredictable Danish weather (think bucketfuls of rain falling down on your bike at any moment.) With all the labor I put into those cookies, I seem to recall wimping out and taking the metro to work that day.

Biking to the December cookie exchange, I decided, was for only the elite citizens who had a lifetime's Danish biking experience delivering baked goods to their profession each year.  Or at the very least, for people who had a cargo bike or bike basket large enough to accommodate dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies.

 Now that the holidays are over, we're free to shift our focus from Christmas cookie exchanges to less fussy baking projects.  It's a relief: all that assembly, specifications of how many dozen you must bring, transport and presentation strategy?  It's a lot to think about.  Here's to the New Year, new recipes, and a year full of baking whatever strikes your fancy.
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