My first-ever baking attempt was at age 6, when I tried to make cookies by combining flour and water before putting the blobs on a plate in the freezer. While I didn’t succeed in making cookies, I did succeed in making paste. Sadly, the plate had to be thrown out.
Normally, my role at a holiday cookie party or exchange is to set timers, wash dishes, and steal cookie dough when people aren’t looking. So when my friends said they wanted to do a virtual cookie-baking party, I was hesitant to put my skills to the test. Had I progressed past paste? But in the spirit of holiday traditions and friendship, I obliged.
I quickly learned that the trick to having a good time on Zoom is to just lean all the way into it and embrace the quirky. And while I wished I could see my friends in person, there are some real pros to a virtual cookie party. First, you can tailor the recipe to meet your specific needs. My cookies needed to be gluten-free, so I was able to make the swap for my own batch—without subjecting the rest of my friends to the trials and tribulations of working with gluten-free flour. Second, you can employ teamwork to get the best result; with multiple people baking the same thing, you can double check your steps and make sure you’re staying on track. Third, and perhaps most importantly, you can put yourself on mute while your mixer is on or if your siblings get into a particularly vocal argument in the background. That last one was a complete hypothetical, obviously. All things considered, my foray back into baking was a wild success! (Aka no plates had to be thrown out this year.)
Thinking of doing a cookie party this year? Here are my tips to make the best out of your virtual cookie experience
1. Pick a relatively easy recipe: By keeping things simple, you can spend more time chatting with your friends and less time separating egg whites. Plus, by keeping things simple there’s more of a chance you already have the ingredients on-hand, and won’t have to make an extra trip to the grocery store. Check out these holiday cookie recipes to bake with loved ones.
2. Do all the prep work ahead of time: Make sure that by the time you start, you’ve laid out all of your ingredients already or have everything close by. If your recipe requires any preparation, do it before your virtual party starts. You don’t want to be the only one who didn’t soften their butter the night before and everyone has to wait for you to get it together—again, a total hypothetical.
3. Make sure the cook time is on the short side: Virtual or not, the best part about a cookie party—besides eating the dough, of course—is the big reveal. After you’ve done all the hard work, you won’t want to wait too long to share your finished product. With pandemic stress and screen fatigue, it can be tempting to put a pin in your old holiday traditions and pick them up next year. But some tradition is better than no tradition, so schedule some time and bake your favorite holiday cookie with your friends—or, your friends’ top-halves on zoom.
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