“The Cookie Club” by Ann Pearlman ($29.99, Simon & Schuster) is not just a great read but a great excuse to have your very own bake-off!
What is it about?
“I am the head cookie bitch and this is my party. The cookie club is always on the first Monday of December. Mark your calendar. Twelve of us gather with thirteen dozen cookies wrapped in packages. Homemade of course. We each bring a dish to pass around and a bottle of wine. Sixteen years ago, when we first started, we’d drink the wine and then go dancing. Now we drink some and sit and talk at my house, or put on Al Green and dance. “Love and Happiness,” that’s our favourite. We take turns telling the story of the cookies we have made. Somehow each story is always emblematic of the year. We pass out our packages and donate the thirteenth dozen to our local hospice. The cookie club is about giving, not just yummy morsels we share with our girlfriends and our families but also with people we don’t know who are having a bleak time and might appreciate a wrapped sweet.”
Every year on the first Monday of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather in the evening with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone brings a dish, a bottle of wine and their stories. This year, the stories are especially important. Marnie’s oldest daughter is going through a risky pregnancy, Jeannie’s father is having an affair with her best friend, Taylor’s life is in financial freefall and Rosie has discovered her husband doesn’t want children, which could spell the end of the marriage.
Each woman, each friend has a story to tell, and they are all interwoven, just as their lives are. On this evening, at least, they can feel as a group the impulses of sisterly love and conflict, the passion and hopefulness of a new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, the agony of losing a child and above all, the love they have for one another.
“The Cookie Club” celebrates courage and joy, in spite of hard times, and honours the importance of women’s friendships and embracing bonds of community.
You’ll also be able to enjoy The Cookie Club’s very own pecan butter balls, double-dipped chocolate peanut butter cookies and chocolate almond bonbons, with 13 delicious cookie recipes that should be shared and enjoyed with love, laughter and friendship.
Start your very own Cookie Club!
The setting for The Cookie Club was inspired by a real cookie exchange that I’ve been attending for a decade. Many people have asked how to replicate some of our wonderful times and fun. If you want to start a cookie club, I’m sure you’ll have some of your own great ideas, maybe even borrowing a few portrayed in the novel, but here are some ideas for helping you on your way to your first party.
The most important ingredient is friends you love. It helps if they love to bake, or at least love a good party enough to try baking dozens of cookies. I don’t think it has to be all women. Any men out there for a men’s party? Couples party? Singles party?
Decide this far enough in advance that your guests will have time to book it into their calendars and decide which cookies to bake. (And maybe try a few different cookies in advance).
We each bake as many dozen of the same cookie as there are party attendees. You don’t want everyone to bake the same cookie so try to make sure that doesn’t happen. Try asking friends to respond to a group e-mail with the kind of cookie they will bring. You can also ban the most usual kinds, for example, chocolate chip cookies.
Containers must be substantial enough to hold the cookies while they are being passed out and transported otherwise cookies may end up on your carpet, your guests’ laps or floor of the car. Paper plates and gladwrap don’t work so be imaginative. We’ve used oven mitts, make-up kits, gift bags and seasonal tins.
Giving cookies to anonymous others having a rough time has always added meaning to the cooking itself as well as the party. We’ve donated to the hospice and safehouse.
Food and drink
Decide if you’re going to have snacks or food. Either provide it yourself or ask everyone to bring a plate.
This, along with friendship and cookies, is a crucial ingredient. Have fun. Enjoy each other and the gift of the cookies you will share with each other and then will pass to family, other friends and people who help you out throughout the year!