WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Public Library hosted its first Cookie Exchange over the weekend, where attendees sampled a range of offerings such as Gingerbread Men, Coconut-Lime Thai Snowballs, Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies, Sour Cream Chocolate Drop Cookies, Cinnamon Icebox Cookies, Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies, Lactating Cookies and more.
Adult Services Librarian Brian Plank organized the event after his girlfriend, who is also a librarian, told him about the success of her own library’s cookie exchange.
“I wanted to do something fun for the holidays,” he said. “When my girlfriend told me about her library’s Cookie Exchange, I knew it would be a great event for us.”
Wearing a festive T-shirt covered with red Santas, Plank served hot cider and added to the ambience with classical music as the scent of freshly baked cookies lured people into the room.
Cheryl Wickham, baker of the Gingerbread Men, was excited to find a cookie exchange in West Orange.
“They had cookie parties in my hometown near Buffalo, NY,” she said. “I wanted to throw my own cookie party but couldn’t persuade many people to participate.”
A few extra shakes of ginger on Wickham’s Gingerbread Men made them one of the most popular cookies at the event.
Artist Nancy Pearl’s three-cookie platter consisting of Sour Cream Chocolate Drop Cookies, Cinnamon Icebox Cookies and Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies was also a crowd pleaser.
The library managed to draw people with good baking genes to their event, as Wickham and Pearl quickly discovered that both of their fathers were bakers.
One of the more unique offerings was a tray of “lactating cookies” baked by Joan Pitoscia. Bakers and tasters alike found it interesting that lactating cookies exist.
“I found the recipe online when I was nursing my daughter,” said Pitoscia, whose daughter accompanied her to the event and enjoyed sampling the cookies.
Pitoscia explained that the cookies “wouldn’t cause lactation in anyone who hasn’t given birth somewhat recently,” but that they are one of the healthier cookies, made with ingredients like flax, brewers yeast, oatmeal and wheat germ. According to the mother, the chocolate chips in the cookies give them a delicious, sweet taste so that no one suspects that they are loaded with nutrients.
One of the West Orange librarians made peanut butter cookies that she called “My Roommate’s Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies.” Her cookies were a hit, and many guests commended her for giving her roommate the credit for the recipe.
Following the event, Plank said he hopes to organize another Cookie Exchange in the spring or summer so that cookie lovers won’t have to wait a full year to create and sample local creations.
All bakers were asked to their recipes so other attendees could try them out at home.