THIS SEASON, many of us are scaling back our holiday celebrations. But even if you can’t gather with everyone you love, you can still feed them. Spread holiday cheer—remotely—by baking and mailing packages of comforting cookies.
Sharing cookies is a longstanding holiday ritual. This time of year, kitchens turn into production facilities to supply cookie swaps, tree-trimming parties and holiday open houses. Even in normal times, some of those cookies would travel by mail. But in 2020, shipping cookies takes on new resonance. “I don’t know of a better gift than to bake for someone,” said Kelly Fields, author of “The Good Book of Southern Baking” (Lorena Jones Books) and owner of Willa Jean restaurant in New Orleans. “Baking is my love language.”
First, you need to choose your cookies. Ms. Fields ships baked goods from Willa Jean nationwide via the mail-order-food site Goldbelly. She recommends sticking with sturdy varieties for shipping—drop cookies, shortbreads, biscotti. Stay away from iced or filled cookies, or any that are brittle or tender. “I love pecan sandies enough that if somebody was to ship them to me, I would enjoy the crumbs as much as the cookie,” said Ms. Fields. “But not everybody is of that opinion.”
Picking durable cookies is a good excuse to forgo fussiness altogether. Put away the frosting tubes, rolling pins and cookie cutters, and let lower-maintenance flourishes—powdered sugar, sprinkles, sanding sugar—do the dazzling. “If I did the thing where I made cutout cookies with the sugars and royal icing decorations and piping bags, then you have to wait for them to dry,” said Claire Saffitz, author of “Dessert Person” (Clarkson Potter). “I don’t have time to do that anymore. I like cookies that don’t require decoration and look pretty on their own.” Her slice-and-bake pistachio pinwheels, with their hypnotic, swirly green pattern, are both stunning and surprisingly simple to make.
While some bakers feel compelled to churn out a smorgasbord, it’s OK to stick with one variety. “There are people who would be super pumped to get a dozen chocolate chip cookies, and equally excited to get a dozen of three or four different kinds,” said Ms. Fields. “Whatever you’re going to have the most fun with is the right number.”