My husband and I have hosted a large holiday party at our house every year since we moved in more than a decade ago -- but of course COVID-19 forced us to skip it this year. We haven't even dined indoors (other than in our own home) since last March, so we weren't about to host a superspreader event. But I decided to still bake and distribute holiday cookies. Our party guests are always invited to pack up a box of baked goods to take home with them when they leave (a tradition I started after I noticed a colleague wrapping up some cookies in a napkin and stuffing them in her purse during our very first party), and I figured that this year people might be willing to come by for a contactless cookie box pickup.
I offered six different dates for people to pick up cookies during the weeks of Christmas and New Year's. I did this both because I know people are busy over the holidays and might not be able to come by on any particular day, and also because I was taking the entire last two weeks of December off from work and didn't have much else to do besides bake. I was burning up some "use or lose" vacation time that I would forfeit if I didn't take time off by the end of the year, but we had no plans to travel or visit family during the pandemic.
The first cookie I decided to make was Vaughn Vreeland's Eggnog Snickerdoodles. While I don't drink alcohol and strongly dislike boozy desserts, I usually have a few desserts with alcohol at our holiday party -- because after all, I'm not baking for myself, but for our guests. And these cookies aren't actually made with rum, but with rum extract -- which I honestly did not even know was a thing before I saw it in the ingredient list. I was able to find it easily at the supermarket, and I was surprised that when I opened the bottle and took a sniff, I thought it smelled sweet and pleasant.
The recipe is straightforward. You cream room temperature butter with sugar and salt until light and fluffy; add an egg and egg yolks, followed by rum extract; and add the dry ingredients (flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda). You let the dough sit at room temperature briefly before forming it into balls (I used a #30 scoop and got 28 cookies from a batch), rolling each cookie in a mixture of sugar and freshly-grated nutmeg, and baking.
I liked these cookies so much that I made several batches during my cookie vacation, and I think that almost everyone who picked up holiday cookies received them in their box. I can't believe I found a rum-flavored dessert that I love!
Recipe: "Eggnog Snickerdoodles" by Vaughn Vreeland, from The New York Times.