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6 Holiday Cookies That Will Win You the Cookie Swap

Bon Appétit Logo By Hilary Cadigan of Bon Appétit | Slide 1 of 7: Last December I attended my first cookie swap, and lost. Badly. But it wasn’t because my cookies didn’t taste good—there was brown butter in there! It was because of how they... looked. My fellow swappers took one withering glance at my Tupperware full of misshapen blobs and made up their minds.
At the time I was incensed (“You superficial monsters! It’s what’s on the inside that counts!”), but I later realized the truth: While ugly-delicious cookies get a pass every other month, come December, it’s beautiful or bust.
So this year I called in an expert: Rick “Sugar Man” Martinez, noted aesthete, king of dessert, champion of more cookie swaps than he can count. And what he told me changed the game entirely. In 2019 your holiday cookie decorations can’t just be an afterthought—they must be the first thought, not just a waxy adornment but integral to the flavor itself. “The decor IS the cookie,” quoth Rick.
Together (and by together I mean mostly Rick) we created this recipe-laden battle plan...er, cookie primer, packed with tips, tricks, and recipes for six holiday cookies that taste great and are dressed to party. And that next swap? I’m gonna win.

Last December I attended my first cookie swap, and lost. Badly. But it wasn’t because my cookies didn’t taste good—there was brown butter in there! It was because of how they... looked. My fellow swappers took one withering glance at my Tupperware full of misshapen blobs and made up their minds.

At the time I was incensed (“You superficial monsters! It’s what’s on the inside that counts!”), but I later realized the truth: While ugly-delicious cookies get a pass every other month, come December, it’s beautiful or bust.

So this year I called in an expert: Rick “Sugar Man” Martinez, noted aesthete, king of dessert, champion of more cookie swaps than he can count. And what he told me changed the game entirely. In 2019 your holiday cookie decorations can’t just be an afterthought—they must be the first thought, not just a waxy adornment but integral to the flavor itself. “The decor IS the cookie,” quoth Rick.

Together (and by together I mean mostly Rick) we created this recipe-laden battle plan...er, cookie primer, packed with tips, tricks, and recipes for six holiday cookies that taste great and are dressed to party. And that next swap? I’m gonna win.

© Photo by Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh, food styling by Michelle Gatton, prop styling by Beatrice Chastka

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