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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Cookie Buffet: Details

I knew fairly early on that I wanted a sweets buffet as part of my bridal shower. Well-coordinated candy buffets have such a stunning effect, that I fell in love with the idea of a Halloween or autumn themed candy buffet, something gorgeous like this or these. But, budgets are always an issue, so I downgraded to the idea of a Halloween candy buffet, for the reason that there would be plenty of Halloween candy around in the middle of October, so it would be easier and more economical. I was right on this point, it would have been cheap (relatively) and easy, but something about the concept of a Halloween candy buffet 2 weeks before Halloween still wasn't sitting right with me. And then I hit upon a great idea, and I have no clue why I didn't think of it earlier: a cookie buffet filled with homemade cookies!

This had all the elements I wanted: homey, rustic, baked, etc etc. And although I love baking anything and everything, cookies make me especially happy. So I chose my cookie types and got to baking, starting about 3 weeks before my shower. And I had to figure out a way to turn this: into the cookie buffet of my dreams!

I started with containers, I wanted something to remind me of fall, with a rustic feel. While I was at Michael's, I saw these great apple bushel baskets (I think they are technically 1/4 of a bushel baskets, or maybe 1/2), so I decided to use those. But I knew right away that I'd want to line them with something, to protect the cookies from the baskets and vice versa. I figured that some of those large cellophane bags meant for gift baskets would work well. So, I bought some wide (1.5") ribbon in fall colors:
and used a combination of double-sticky tape and a glue gun to adhere the bags to the baskets, and then the ribbons around the rims to hide the bag edges. I ended up with this:
which pretty much looked exactly how I had envisioned.
Now, all of the nicest candy buffets I have ever seen have these cute little signs identifying the contents of each container, and seeing as my containers were not see-through, I figured I should definitely log some sign-making time. I used rectangle labels to print out all the names of the cookies I planned to make, and then I adhered them to a dark brown cardstock backing. I made a giant Cookie Buffet sign as well, so there would be no misunderstanding at my shower as to the purpose of all the cookies!
The last real thing was the goodie bags -- what would I provide for guests to take their cookies home in? I went through many ideas until I finally settled on Kraft brown paper bags, which still preserved some of the rustic feel I wanted. Plus, I found great autumn-themed twist ties that looked great paired with the bags:
Add a brown tablecloth, and this was the final product:
See that blue box next to the bags? Bakery wax paper grabs, incredibly economical, and saved me from having to buy tongs or grabbers for every container!
On to the cookies themselves. I made 8 different varieties. I originally wanted them all to be reminiscent of traditional autumn flavors, but then I decided to go for a mix of traditional cookies, autumn cookies, and cookies honoring my heritage (I am Greek and Polish).

Here are the Spice Cake Balls:
Pierniczki, which are Polish ginger cookies:
Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies (plus candy from the local orchard in fall colors):

Koulourakia, a Greek butter cookie:
and Kourambiedes, Greek almond cookies:
All in all, it was definitey time-consuming, but I wouldn't exactly call it work. I loved every minute of baking the cookies, and I loved watching people enjoy them. I'm happy to say that, after making and displaying 56 some-odd dozen cookies (I averaged at least 7 dozen per type), there were only crumbs left by the end of the 3 hours...


Ryan said...

Your cookie buffet looked great! I am so excited to have read you made over 50 dozens of cookies. Did you make ahead & freeze the dough? We will be making about the same amount of cookies for an upcoming wedding in a month. We are brainstorming how to do it. Any advice would be helpful!

Meredith said...

Hey sorry this is tardy, I got married myself the first week of December (and moved) so I wasn't checking my blog regularly. To answer your question, I made and baked the dough, then freezed the cookies in tins. They will keep for about a month if you do this (I do the same thing at Christmastime). When you want to defrost, take the tins out the day before and leave them at room temp. Leave the tins closed, so that the condensation will form on the outside of the tin, and not on your cookies!!! Good luck!!