Choosing the cookie recipe that you'll bake for a cookie party can be quite the decision. I tend to fall into the overachiever category when hosting parties and baking for others, so I gravitate to unique recipes that rank a little higher on the difficulty scale. Regardless of the recipe you choose, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you make your baking marathon a fun and, more importantly, fuss-free activity.
Choosing a Recipe
- Be sure to choose a recipe that matches your baking skill set and fits your schedule and budget. If you are not confident in your royal icing skills, fancy sugar cookies may not be the best route to take until you have a little practice.
- Test the recipe before cranking out dozens and dozens of cookies. Just because a recipe has stellar online reviews doesn't necessarily mean it will be your favorite or that you'll enjoy baking it.
- I like to encourage my guests to bring their favorite family recipes that have been passed down for generations. The stories behind the cookies and the memories that come along with them are just as special as the recipes.
- If you’re feeling a little uninspired, browse recipe sites like HostACookieParty.com for great recipe ideas like Jam and Hazelnut Cookies and Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies that are sure to make you swoon.
Have a plan of attack and get organized several days prior to starting your baking extravaganza. Once you've made your final recipe decision, you'll definitely want to put together a list of ingredients you’ll need. Don't assume that you have baking powder and brown sugar tucked away in the depths of your pantry. Be sure to double-check the dates on items such as eggs, butter, baking soda and spices - sometimes these ingredients can be a little past their prime before you've used them up. If you have a list of items you need, you won’t spend precious baking time running to the store – or begging someone else to do it for you for forgotten items.
Keep in mind, your finished product will only be as good as the ingredients you've used. If you have a few dollars to spare, I recommended splurging on items such as quality vanilla extract, flour and chocolate.
Many cookie recipes freeze incredibly well. If you want to make your cookies ahead of time and freeze them before the big day, I recommend tidying up your freezer a bit to make room for all of the delectable treats you’ll be making and receiving at the cookie party.
Make Baking Fun
Holiday baking doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be glued to the oven while the rest of the world has fun without you. Turn your holiday bake-o-rama into a yearly tradition that brings family and friends together. Surrounding yourself with a group of helping hands doesn’t just make the day more fun, it makes the baking move along a lot more quickly. Crank up some holiday music, roll up your sleeves and make a day of it. I promise you’re sure to create some amazing memories.
Party day is almost here! Depending on your schedule, you might want to start your own baking up to two days in advance.
Opt for a cookie recipe that is easily transportable. Cookies that have a soft frosting or are crumbly might not get home safely with your guests!
Also, bar cookies can be made ahead and cut the day of the party to stay fresh even longer. One of my favorites is the delectable Cookies 'n Cream Fudge.
Make a menu for your party. You only need to serve light appetizers and drinks, because I guarantee there will be some cookie sampling! Pick a few small, easy to assemble snacks. Cheese and crackers, dips (warm or cold) or small sandwiches are perfect.
Decide on a festive drink to serve. Warm cider or coffee is a perfect choice for the holidays.
- Don’t try to do all of your shopping and baking in one day. This is supposed to be fun! Double check your pantry before shopping. I have on many occasions thought I had brown sugar, only to be halfway into a recipe and realize I was out!
- Check the dates on your baking soda. A lot of cookie recipes call for baking soda and if yours is old your cookies might be affected. Baking soda won’t spoil, but it will lose its potency over time. Same goes for baking powder!
- Always use room temperature butter. It will mix evenly into your cookie batter, making your cookies bake much more nicely. This means you should take your butter out of the refrigerator a few hours before you plan on baking. It won’t go bad, I promise!
- I always put parchment paper on my baking pans. It helps for even baking, and makes clean-up a breeze.
- Make sure to read your recipe a day ahead. Too many times I have started making cookie dough, only to realize the dough needs to chill for hours or overnight before baking.
- A good idea before baking season begins: check your oven temperature. You can easily pick up an oven thermometer and calibrate it. Sometimes ovens can be up to 25°F off, throwing off your baking time.
- Make sure you have plenty of plastic wrap or containers to store your cookies if you are making them in advance.
- The night before the party, make your appetizers if possible. You will be happy you did!
- And most important…enjoy baking! That’s what this is all about!