Ambitious home bakers make hundreds of cookies, bars and brownies for Christmas, but commercial bakeries make tens of thousands - including, at Gelatiamo, 714 cookies for the Seattle Milk Fund's Cookiefest at Macy's this Saturday.
"We're making a lot of cookies," confirms co-owner Skyler Locatelli.
For Locatelli, cookie season coincides with a pannettone rush, further taxing his downtown bakery's tiny basement kitchen. But the annual ordeal has taught Locatelli how to successfully manage major Christmas cookie projects.
"Have a few people working on the same thing at the same time," Locatelli recommends. He strongly advises against trying to frost one kind of cookie while melting chocolate for another kind of cookie. Multitasking tends to backfire, he warns.
Still, Locatelli is a fan of stocking Christmas cookie tins with a variety of sweets. The $15 baker's dozen that Gelatimo is selling at Cookiefest includes six different kind of cookies.
"A couple of them have chocolate, a couple of them have jam," he says. His favorite cookie in the mix is a ricciarelli, a sweet almond cookie with a crunchy exterior that's a mainstay of Sienese cafes.
It's wise to include a variety of shapes and sizes in a cookie tin, although Locatelli believes all of the cookies should have the same shelf life. Since recipients without helpful relatives or office mates are unlikely to down a dozen cookies as soon as they take possession of a tin, it makes sense for holiday bakers to focus on cookies that will still be edible in a week. Biscotti are a better choice than macaroons, Locatelli says.
While Locatelli is a Christmas cookie expert, his bakery has never before participated in Cookiefest.
"It's our first time, and we're excited to do it," he says.