The Best Holiday Cookies
(Bloomberg) -- Whether it’s an exquisitely decorated treat that evokes a falling snowflake, or a brilliantly decadent take on a classic recipe, there’s simply no better way to create instant holiday cheer than by giving someone a cookie. You don’t even have to make it yourself! Some of the most thrilling cookies this year are from mail-order companies that will send joy right to your friend’s mailbox. Here are seven standouts that make fantastic gifts, or—let’s be honest—sweet indulgences for yourself.
The Designer Cookie: Last Crumb
There’s a wait list for Last Crumb confections, which come in such over-the-top flavors as “50 Cent,” a treat slathered with white frosting and sprinkles. The “Netflix and Crunch” boasts a streusel topping and a hit of vanilla milk; it’s inspired by the joy that a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch can inspire. Founders Derek Jaeger and Alana Arnold treat their supersized, fudgy cookies like a sneaker drop, releasing them on a weekly basis in limited quantities that sell out in less than a minute. The cookies, which arrive in a box big enough to hold a couple of pairs of Air Jordans, go for about $12 each and come with a booklet that tells the backstory behind each one. ($140 for box of 12)
Cookies as Art: Alma
Demand for Alma shortbread rounds has exploded since founder Alexandra Griffin started making them in summer 2020; they often sell out within 30 minutes of being posted. Her tender, crumbly cookies are baked with ingredients like organic pistachios and fresh lemon zest. Griffin doesn’t stop there: She decorates the glazed tops with exquisite edible flowers and designs some collections in collaboration with female artists. Also striking are Alma’s dark chocolate shortbreads festooned with dried rose petals. (From $30 for 6)
Appointment Cookie: Shortbread Society
At the beginning, the only way to score the delectable supersized bar cookie from MasterChef contestant Francis Legge was to arrange for them via Instagram. Now he has expanded beyond his self-proclaimed “secret dessert shop” to allow for nationwide delivery, via Goldbelly. Selections change frequently, but are all anchored by his crumbly, buttery shortbread. Among current flavors are his Christmas rainbow cookie, in layers of almond-flavored red, yellow. and green, and “Billionaires,” a staggeringly rich dessert with a base of shortbread, topped with oozy caramel and gold-coated dark chocolate ganache. (From $59 for a six-serving tray)
Best Holiday Spirit: Elle’s Belles
Elle Fine’s cookies transport customers to her hometown of Bozeman, Mont., on a bright, wintry day. Her designs include jolly sugar-cookie snowmen and snowflake sandwich cookies made with warmly spiced, crisp-tender gingerbread and cream cheese filling, decorated with crystal sugar. They’re part of the rare breed of holiday cookie that tastes as good as it looks. For the DIY crowd, Fine has introduced a kit to make a giant gingerbread man cookie, with icing for decoration. (From $45 for 6)
Over-the-Top Treat: Cookie Rich
Before she started selling her luscious sandwich cookies, Austin, Texas-based Lorin Peters was a chef whose resume included a stint at the French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley. She specialized in savory food, not sweets, but started Cookie Rich as a new business model during the pandemic. What makes her golf-ball-sized treats stand out is how well the entire gooey bite evokes the barely baked center of a cookie—the best part. Her flavors include lemon sugar, sealed together with a generous swirl of lemon pudding, and s’mores, with a toasted marshmallows stuffing that delivers a true campfire taste.
Most Fun Cookies: Gingerbeard Bakery
Ginger-bearded founder Doug Williams uses frosting to celebrate everything from the Real Housewives to favorite pets and marriage proposals. To make his confections, he hand cuts and illustrates vanilla sugar cookies (other flavors are available on request) using vibrant colors that he mixes himself. Williams was inspired by such holiday movies as Home Alone and Love Actually to create a batch that includes the famed stocking lamp from Christmas Story and the syrup-covered spaghetti from Elf. (From $65 for a dozen).
Cookie for a Cause: Whisk Me Away Cakes
Rose McAdoo uses baking to highlight an array of issues. After teaching one of her culinary workshops in a prison, she received a note from a California inmate that said, “You made me feel like I was the winner of The Great American Bake Off.” She has baked artistic cakes from a kitchen in Antarctica—no small feat—to promote scientific research there. McAdoo’s newest creation is a striking crinkle cookie, made with blue spirulina algae and dusted with powdered sugar, so that the finished result looks like the pattern of an Antarctic ice break. The goal is to call attention to climate change. (For a custom-made cookie order, contact McAdoo through her website.)
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