Recipes in collection associated with this article: White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Cookies and Creative Pan Cookies. Margaret Moore called recently for advice on the best kind of baked goods to send to troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. She wanted to ensure her cookies would hold up for shipping and the climate. Soldiers who have been deployed overseas say drop, refrigerator and sandwich cookies are great to ship, because they’re fairly sturdy and hold up well. Others say bar cookies such as brownies are best. Oatmeal raisin, peanut butter cookies and sugar cookies are among some of the favorites cited by soldiers. The jury is out on chocolate chips. Some say chocolate of any kind melts, especially during the warmer months of May through October. Others say the cookies arrive in fine shape. If you’re worried about the chocolate chips, substitute M&Ms, which work well. Any cakes or cookies with icing are not a good idea. A colleague of mine shipped her husband’s favorite oatmeal cranberry cookies to him when he was deployed overseas. She packaged them in tins with layers of popped popcorn as packing material. Others suggest stacking the cookies in an empty chip tube, such as those for Pringles. Blogger Marye Audet sent cookies to her son last year when he was on his second tour in Afghanistan. “I understand the heart of someone who wants to send some ‘home’ to someone they love,” she wrote on her blog on www.blisstree.com. “I understand praying that the cookies make it and that somehow they will miraculously create comfort and warmth in the heart of the receiver. “And I know, too, that cookies do exactly that. I know it because once upon a time, many eons ago, in the dark ages, I was in the military too. And I know what it is to close your eyes, stick your face in the box, and smell that amazing scent of ‘home.’ For a moment, you are there.” Audet uses a vacuum sealer to seal the cookies. “Seal the bag and then place the sealed bag into a bag that you blow up like a balloon,” she wrote. “Just place the original bag in, zip all but one edge, blow it up like you were inflating a party balloon and finish zipping.” Then she packs the cookies in popcorn and places a packing list inside the box with the recipient’s address as well as her own. (By the way, packages must be sent to a specific soldier due to security concerns.) Audet includes recipes for some of her cookies that are best for shipping, including chocolate and molasses crinkle cookies, peanut butter cookies and peanut butter blossom cookies. A recipe for White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Cookies she recommends is below. The other recipes can be found at www.blisstree.com/ bakingdelights/absolutely- the-best-cookies-to-ship- to-iraq/. There are also recipes at the Nestle site, www.verybestbaking.com/ promotions/programs/ troops.aspx. The recipe for Creative Pan Cookies follows. I also turned to a Web site written by Jeanette Cram of www.treatsforthe troops.com for more advice. Cram and volunteer bakers across the country have sent more than 1,877,548 cookies overseas since she started making treats during the Gulf War in 1990. She was inspired by a letter read by then-President George H.W. Bush. Her site includes many tips for baking and shipping cookies. Here are some of them: •Use the cookie recipes off the packages of chocolate chips and oats. If you do not have time to bake from scratch, “extra moist” or cake mix that contains pudding makes a very good cookie. The basic recipe is ½ cup vegetable oil and 2 large eggs per box. You can be creative by adding Rice Krispies, raisins, white chocolate chips, M&Ms, etc. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes (but underbake at least one minute). •If you send peanut butter cookies or any cookies that contain nuts, please label each bag “contains nuts.” •Underbake the cookies about one minute to preserve the freshness. •Chocolate chip (substitute with M&Ms May through October), oatmeal-raisin, peanut butter and snickerdoodles are the most popular cookies. •Freeze the cookies until you are ready to ship them. Packing: •I use regular fold-top sandwich bags, no zip-locks. Put 6 cookies front to back in the bags and twist-tie them. It will look something like a “tube.” Be generous with your packing material, which can be bubble wrap, plastic grocery bags, or shredded paper. Nest the cookies in the packing material. •Any toiletries should be packed in separate boxes from cookies.
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