It’s hard to overstate the nostalgia associated with holiday cookies. From gingerbread men to sugar cookies to snowballs and more, it certainly feels like the best cookies are eaten in the month of December. No matter what traditions you grew up with, there is likely a seasonal cookie out there that pulls extra hard at your holiday heartstrings.
For Lauren Moran, owner of Honeycomb bakery in Hamilton, cookies, especially around this time of year, are as front and center today as they were during her childhood. Whether it was Italian Christmas cookies from one side of her family or Scottish shortbread from the other, for Moran, baking at holiday time has long played a starring role in the season.
The influence of her family’s love for holiday baking can be seen each year at Honeycomb, where Italian anise cookies (a delicious combination of anise and lemon topped with a whipped frosting) are always hot sellers. For Moran, “the holidays are very much about a revved-up cookie production, really all of December is,” she explains.
And while Moran loves exploring new flavor profiles and combinations, she has also found that year after year, old standbys remain among their greatest hits. “Our chocolate chip cookie is our number one seller,” says Moran. If you have had a chance to enjoy one, it’s not hard to understand why, made with high-quality chocolate and topped with Maldon salt. Each cookie is quite literally that perfect combination of sweet with just a touch of salt to balance it out.
Honeycomb regulars will no doubt also be familiar with the bakery’s chewy ginger cookie, which is the perfect combination of ginger and spice that very much represents the holiday season, but is also a fan favorite throughout the year. And of course, no holiday cookie discussion would be complete without mentioning frosted sugar cookies, which are available at the bakery in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of the season all month long.
There isn’t an at-home baker who doesn’t love advice from the professionals, and to this end Moran says that starting early is her number one piece of advice for herself—and everyone else. “Start planning and baking early, begin when you have time and not when you are rushing” she advises. “Making batches of cookie dough and freezing them is the ultimate way to stay on top of cookie production throughout the season,” says Moran, who adds that “most doughs freeze really well” so there’s little reason not to make it when you can, saving yourself time during a season when time itself always seems to be in short supply.
Keeping frozen dough on hand makes it easy to bake a few cookies at a time or several dozen all at once depending on what your needs are. It also ensures that fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies can easily be yours all season long. This tip is an especially good one when it comes to rolled sugar cookie dough: If you make it and freeze in advance, you can pull it out whenever you find yourself in the company of little elves who are in the mood to bake and decorate (not to mention for when you need to have a plate on hand for the big guy December 24.)
In addition to a whole lot of cookie production this time of year, Honeycomb is also known for its sticky toffee pudding and a host of other seasonal Christmas desserts (all available for pre-order).
Throughout the season Honeycomb makes it a priority to focus on the local community. Their “‘Comb for the Holidays” Pop Up Shop & Pizza Night will be on December 8, when patrons can look forward to shopping local artists, enjoying tastings from Honeycomb’s holiday wine picks and more. On December 11, the youngest Honeycomb fans can look forward to “An Afternoon with Mrs. Claus” that will include story time, a sing-along and games. Check out the Honeycomb website for ticket information and more details on all of the holiday happenings they have going on this month.
And most of all, may a very merry, sugary sweet season, be yours.