Whether it’s a care package for a college student, a goody box for someone in the military or a way to say Happy Birthday to a friend or relative, there’s nothing like opening a box of fresh, homemade cookies. And if those cookies just happen to be that recipient’s favorite cookies of all time, even better!
Here are tips to make sure your cookies arrive as cookies and not a pile of crumbs—fresh and ready to enjoy.
1. Always cool cookies before storing or packaging into a container. Packing warm cookies allows too much moisture to get trapped inside the package.
2. Certain cookies tend to ship better than others do. For example, do not mail cookies with custard or custard-like fillings or toppings like cheesecake bars. The custard could spoil, making yours a very unwelcome gift. Any cookie that requires refrigeration is not a good candidate for the mail.
3. Cookies that have a crunchy or hard texture such as biscotti, Mexican wedding cakes, crisps, Springerle and shortbreads make excellent choices for mail delivery. They tend to be sturdy, so you don’t have to worry too much about breakage. And since they already have a fairly dry texture, drying out isn’t much of an issue.
4. Do not store soft cookies (like chocolate chip or oatmeal) with hard or crunchy cookies (like biscotti or shortbread). The moisture in the soft cookies will make the biscotti soft and vice versa.
5. Package cookies for gift giving or mailing in airtight hard-sided containers. Re-sealable plastic bags or wraps are not a good idea unless you plan on hand delivering.
6. Harder cookies tend to mail the best but may be subject to breakage if packed too tightly, so leave ample room. Cookies should be packed snuggly, not overstuffed but also not under packed.
7. Delicate cookies, such as meringues, are not good candidates to ship. Choose sturdy, heavier cookies.
8. Cookies that have a slightly chewy texture, like chocolate chip, oatmeal, snickerdoodles, and white chocolate-cranberry cookies also ship well. These cookies tend to dry out if they are in the mail for more than a week, so if their destination is far away, you might want to ship them by express mail to ensure that they arrive just as tasty as when they were baked.
9. If there is room in the container, fill spaces between the cookies with crumpled wax paper, which will not cause moist cookies to dry out.
10. Pack the container or tin with cookies in a larger cardboard box for shipping. Place air-popped popcorn (no oil or butter, please) on the bottom, top and around the sides. Use a lot. Popcorn is cheaper and more degradable than shipping peanuts and won’t crush like crumpled paper. You want to allow two inches of cushion between the container and the box on all four sides. If you don’t have plain popcorn, use bubble wrap or shipping “peanuts.”
11. Label the outside of the box as “Breakable,” or “Fragile!!” and mark “This Side Up!” You cannot be assured that your package will be handled as such, but adding this caution can’t hurt.