Boston’s Virtual Cookie Swap

This week I hosted my 2nd ever cookie swap. I have attended several thanks to Flour Bakery. Flour Bakery’s cookie swap is coming up this weekend. As is newcomer, Elmendorf Bakery’s cookie swap. For me, the hardest part of the cookie swap is choosing which cookie to bake. I start overthinking:

  • Which cookie will travel well?
  • Which cookie will taste the best?
  • Which cookie will be most popular?
  • Which cookie will be easy to make?
  • Which cookie have I always wanted to attempt?

With all these questions swarming my brain, a much more interesting question popped in my head. That’s how I decided to start Boston’s Virtual Cookie Swap.

I chose a few local chefs and food folks to ask what cookies they would bring to a cookie swap.

Jody Adams is at the core of good food in Boston. She has helped lay the bricks that make up the foundation of our wonderfully talented and supportive food community and has a hand in its current food scene as well. With fond recent memories of Rialto just barely behind us we are lining up for soups, salads, and gyros at Salonoki, and standing in front of Greek Street at Timeout Market deciding between the stuffed pita and the souvlaki with fried. Then there is Porto, where a seat at the bar is as welcome a spot as a good friend’s kitchen island and the food is fantastic too.

Chef Adams chose a gingersnap to bring to the virtual cookie swap. Here is what she had to say about them.

My favorite cookie for a swap is Sadie’s Gingersnaps. The recipe was very generously given to me by my dear friend BA Harris’. Her grandmother is Sadie. They are amazing—crispy, light, buttery and jam packed with flavor! I am not an icky- sticky-super-sweet-with-lots-of-stuff-cookie kind of person. I like simple and spicy.

Because I also love gingersnaps, I decided to give this recipe a try. For these cookies the texture and snap of the cookie are just as important as the flavor. It was also a very easy recipe, which I recommend because you want to be able to enjoy a cookie swap not stress out over baked goods.

Since we’re on the topic of ginger, that spice that wakes up your sense of small and creates a gentle sweet heat in your mouth we’ll check out what Jacqueline Church would bring to the virtual cookie swap.

Jacqueline Church is the founder of the Oyster Century Club. She is a writer, restaurant consultant, culinary teacher and talented guide for Boston Chinatown Tours. A tour with Jacqueline Church through Chinatown with my kids is definitely at the top of my holiday wish list based on all that I have heard about the tours.

Jacqueline Church chose to bring a slightly different gingersnap to the virtual cookie swap. This recipe is dairy free, which is great for those who need a parve recipe (for after a Chanukah brisket and latke dinner) or those who are sensitive or allergic to dairy. These have a thicker shape as well.

This is one of those recipes that I make sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving. They signal the holidays. They are enjoyed by everyone and crumbling a few with toasted pecans on the bottom pie crust before filling with pumpkin filling prevents a soggy bottom and perfumes the pie. Warming the spices first makes a big difference.

I love the idea of using these cookies to add into a pie as well. I’m going to have to give it a try.

Usually after Thanksgiving snow begins to fall and New England winter settles in. I love a good snow day not just for the snow activities like sledding and building a snowman or throttling one another with snowballs, but also for snow day treats like hot cocoa, popcorn, and whatever the kids and I decide to bake.

Pastry Chef Crystal Tempesta of Alma Nove in Hingham would bring her melted snowman cookies to the virtual cookie swap.

I started making these cookies years ago for holiday parties, they are cute and delicious, great for kids and adults alike. And did I mention how cute they are?” I have an 8 year old nephew and a 7 year old niece that I now make them with. My son is only 15 months old, so it won’t be long before we’re making them together.

These cookies are so cute and you do not need a degree in pastry arts and piping to make them successfully.

Another cute and tasty cookie is this unique twist on a shortbread cookie that Chef Chris Chung of Momi Nonmi. Momi Nonmi has some of the most beautiful dishes in the area. Each menu item is carefully balanced and perfectly executed.

I don’t typically bake or cook with macadamia nuts, but I know that if Chef Chung has chosen a macadamia nut shortbread to bring to the virtual cookie swap, then it must delicious.

I chose Macadamia nut shortbread cookies. I had them back home in Hawaii and I miss them all the time.

I think that the nuts are typically ground finer than I did this morning, but the results were still very tasty. The Honolulu Cookie Co. version are cut into pineapples and dipped in white chocolate. My family prefers dark chocolate, and I decided to make little reindeer with dark chocolate hooves because that seemed to suit the season here.

While cinnamon, cloves and ginger, take center stage this time of year there is one more flavour that should not be overlooked. There is at least one chocoholic at every gathering and many more chocolate lovers.

Chef Nick Calias formerly of beloved Brasserie Jo can now be found at chic and sassy Rochambeau. While the French, Belgians and Swiss are constantly battling for title of best country for chocolate, one thing is certain: no cookie swap, virtual or not, is complete without a chocolate cookie or two. In this case it is double chocolate. Chef Calias shares his reasons for choosing a double chocolate crinkle cookie to bring to the virtual cookie swap.

My mom, who is an amazing baker and love to cook, used to make these for me when I was a kid. Now I make these with my youngest daughter. It is one of our favorite cookies, we make them for all the holidays and just when a day needs a double chocolate crinkle cookie. 

Today just may be a day that needs a double chocolate crinkle cookie. I think I’ll be making those next.

Either it is more a thing of the past, or maybe just not so much a New England tradition anymore, but confections used to also pop up this time of year. Last year I tried my hand at the Southern treat of pecan pralines. They were a hit and I think I’ll make them again. This cookie that Paul O’Connell would bring to the virtual cookie swap combines cookies and confection. This cookie comes from Mariposa Café’s Suzanne Mermelstein and is available at the café as well.

Paul O’Connell is the chef behind much loved and missed Chez Henri. He can now be found doing the occasional Cuban sandwich pop up because we all miss having a Periodista and a Cuban sandwich at Chez Henri’s bar on a cold winter’s night. He can also be found with Suzanne Mermelstein at Mariposa Bakery, perhaps just popping in to sneak one of these Peanut Butter cookies from the cooling racks. We will never know.

I always loved peanut butter cookies and this recipe os just that much better…. more special with the brittle.

We serve these at Mariposa and this is Suzanne Mermelstein’s recipe. This cookie has that good crunch you expect from a peanut butter cookie but is also chewy in the center.

The Recipes

There are no cookies for this cookie swap, because it is virtual, although I now have plenty on my buffet. If you want to stop by for some tea and cookies, please do. You could also divide up these recipes among friends and family and turn this virtual swap into a real one. This is a busy time of year for everyone so I asked chef to share the recipes if they had them, or share a similar recipe. The great thing about handwritten recipes are the family history they hold. The great thing about recipes online is the ease of clicking and sharing in a split second.

Chef Jody Adams

Porto, Saloniki, Greek Street

Sadie’s Gingersnaps

Jacqueline Church

Boston Chinatown Tours, Oyster Century Club, Culinary Consulting

Snappy Gingersnaps

Chris Chung

Momi Nonmi

Macadamia Shortbread

Crystal Tempesta

Alma Nove

Sugar Cookie Snowmen

Nick Calias

Rochambeau

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Paul O’Connell & Suzanne Mermelstein

Mariposa Bakery

Peanut Butter Cookies