These 5 Goodies Are Baked with Love

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It’s that time of year again, when I throw open the windows throughout our house (if it’s cool enough, that is — I live in Florida), roll up my sleeves, and gather my ingredients: It’s Christmas cookie-baking season! 

Like many young professionals, I was strapped for cash when I started working in an office at my first “real job” in the mid-1990s. As the holidays approached, I didn’t know what I would do in regards to gifts for my colleagues, especially my boss. And then I remembered the cookie exchanges my mom would do with her friends around this time of year, and the idea struck: I’d make cookies! 

That first year I made cookies for about a dozen of my colleagues and the neighbors who lived next door to the Orlando apartment I shared with a roommate. The rave reviews inspired me. As the years have passed and I’ve made moves geographically and professionally, one constant remains: Christmas cookie-baking season and giving sweet gifts to friends and neighbors. 

Not unlike Girl Scout Cookies, I, too, have a core set of recipes that I started with more than 25 years ago. Many of which I will be popping into the oven this year. To name a few: chocolate crinkles, snickerdoodles, and easy peanut butter cookies with Hershey’s Kisses melted on top — these recipes I got from my mom. Creamy mocha fudge and double-good fudge with chocolate and peanut butter round out the core grouping, recipes courtesy of mid-’90s issues of Southern Living.


Once we moved into our house and adopted our first dog here in Tampa, I started making treats for our four-legged friends, too. If the weather is just right, with cooler temperatures and lower levels of humidity, I’ll take a chance on praline pecans and even Overnite Forgotten Cookies, similar to divinity, from a recipe that was handed down from my great-aunt. 

For nearly 10 years, I have been on my own as a freelancer, so instead of in-office colleagues, the recipients of my Christmas cookie boxes are friends and neighbors. It made me laugh when I learned one couple hides their box of goodies from their two young sons so they can enjoy it all themselves, and when another friend moved away, he (quite seriously) asked if I’d ship him his sweet treats. When I pack up a neighbor’s box of goodies, I add in extra fudge because I know it’s their favorite. This year, I’ll be making my deliveries on Dec. 22, National Cookie Exchange Day.

Last summer, when I joined the throngs of people baking during the pandemic, I tweeted a picture of a batch of cookies I had just pulled out of the oven. Imagine my delightful surprise when my boss from that first professional job in Orlando, and one of the first recipients of my baked goods, replied with, “Fond memories of your cookie prowess.”

The idea that a small and affordable Christmastime gesture that started more than 20 years ago is still remembered fondly after all this time, well, that’s simply icing on the cookie and proof that these goodies are baked with love.


Tags: Christmas, dessert, holiday baking, holiday season, Chocolate

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Written By

Susan Barnes

Susan B. Barnes is a Tampa-based freelance travel and lifestyle journalist with bylines in myriad national and regional publications. See Full Bio

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