TRAVERSE CITY — It may not look or feel like Christmastime yet, but bakers can start planning for this year’s holiday season through an upcoming sweet program.

Traverse Area District Library previously hosted two cookie exchanges, but in-person gatherings are still limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of canceling the event, Adult Services Librarian Betsy Myers organized the inaugural virtual Cookie Story Exchange.

Myers said it is “more of a show and tell.”

Participants can bake their cookies and show the finished product on screen.

They also can tell the story of where the recipe came from and why it is important to them or why they made it.

“We’re seeking examples of a tradition in the family or something that was passed on,” Myers said. “Or, they can start a new tradition. I like to see how other people celebrate Christmas.”

This is a way for people to collect recipes and dessert ideas for the holidays, Myers said.

A few submissions she never heard of before and some she could not pronounce, as they originated from other countries like Germany.

Myers plans to share her treats, though she said she is not sure what to make yet.

“I have to remember what I made in previous years,” she said. “I’ll open the cookbooks from family traditions.”

TADL Administrative Assistant Vicki Carpenter said her family usually does their own exchange every year.

“My family does a one-day cookie bake off day,” she said. “We make all the cookies together and split them up.”

She provided baked goods for both TADL events: Grinch cookies and snowman buttons, chocolate sugar cookies with frosting. She said she found these recipes online.

Her cherry bonbon recipe — which she plans to show at this year’s event — reminds her of learning to make a similar cookie in high school French class.

These miniature-sized cookies, she said, include a maraschino cherry inside and a drizzled glaze on top.

The glaze is usually red from the maraschino flavors, but Carpenter said bakers can use different colors for different holiday celebrations — such as green and red for Christmas or blue and white for Hanukkah.

Carpenter said she is a little disappointed that the in-person tasting is canceled, but looks forward to trying each recipe on her own time after the event.

“The exchange is the connection — what we like to do with our family and friends,” Carpenter said. “There’s something satisfying about sharing flavors. Some cookies from other countries aren’t super sweet. It’s nice to try those and expand your knowledge.”

She added that she hopes the social experience comes through online.

The virtual format is different than previous cookie exchanges. Myers, a newcomer to Zoom, said there are pros and cons to the application.

“It’s all the fun of baking and hearing people’s stories but no fat from eating others’ cookies,” she said. “You definitely have to be comfortable talking on camera. I’m expecting it will be outside our district and even people from out of state.”

She added that they emailed participants from past years to let them know about the new format. Some replied that they couldn’t do an on-screen presentation.

Myers compiles the recipes into a booklet for each participant to keep. This year, she plans to mail them, or people can pick them up at the library.

Bakers of all ages are invited to join at 1 p.m. Nov. 15 via Zoom.

Space is limited. Register anytime before the event. Sign up at tadl.org/cookies.

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