The calm before the culinary storm.
Baking for someone from scratch will always be one of those instantly heartwarming gestures, but the realities of actually doing it—a mess around the kitchen, purchasing one-off ingredients, dicey results—can often sour the experience. But now there's a whole crop of artisanal boxed mixes that do all the work for us—and, honestly, probably do it a lot better than we could do ourselves.
These gourmet cookies only require the additional purchase of butter and eggs in order to cream the sugar. (Creaming the sugar sounds more technical than it actually is—it's really just mixing, in this case, melted butter into the sugar before adding an egg to combine.) Everything else included in each package is meticulously measured and weighed for you, the step-by-step instructions are fool proof, and the cookies come together in practically no time at all. So please, take the easy route on this one.
Here, we've rounded up five of our favorite pre-packaged mixes.
Krista's Baking Co.
Krista Nelson, the Seattle-based baker behind Krista's Baking Co., sweats every small detail when she's developing her recipes. "I use the very highest-quality, organic, non-GMO, and local ingredients that I can find," says Nelson. Her signature mixes—salted espresso chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, oatmeal, and lavender sugar cookie—while humble on paper, deliver stellar results, thanks to the emphasis on sourcing.
Our favorite were the salted espresso chocolate chip cookies, which are spiked with espresso powder and studded with roughly chopped bites of chocolate from Theo Chocolate in Seattle; coffee-infused sea salt—Jacobsen Salt Co.'s Stumptown Coffee Flake Salt, to be exact—is included to sprinkle on the cookies when they're fresh out of the oven.
Gluten-free chocolate nut chunk and Southern oatmeal are exactly the rustic cookie mixes you would expect to come out of Blackberry Farm, the hybrid farming estate and luxury resort in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
Their Southern-inflected blends come courtesy of Cameron Beall, the daughter of the late Sam Beall and Mary Celeste Beall, the proprietors of Blackberry Farm. Beall perfected her recipes by testing them out at family parties, and eventually, serving them to guests at the farm.
Beall's choice to incorporate Southern ingredients—like sorghum flour in the oatmeal cookies and Southern varieties of corn and buckwheat in the gluten-free chocolate nut chunk—add a pleasant, wholesome character to each batch. You almost don't feel guilty having them for breakfast. (Which we did.)
Not Without Salt
Ashley Rodriguez, the recipe developer behind the wildly popular Not Without Salt blog, took her recipe for salted chocolate chip cookies one step further when she decided to package and sell all the components in one convenient tube. Rodriguez says the cookies were by far the most popular recipe on her blog—and the most requested recipe at home, too.
One of our favorite things about her blend is the vanilla bean-infused sugar—a nice touch we didn't find in other mixes, which deemed vanilla extract to be optional. This mix does require an extra step other brands didn't: chilling the dough for at least an hour. Not surprisingly, the added chilling time worked wonders on the final result. The batch had perfectly crisp edges with just the right amount of softness in the middle, and that ooey-gooey chocolate factor from the generous amount of bittersweet Guittard discs.
Grainstorm's "Bake Like It's 1869" motto becomes crystal clear when you bite into one of their grainy and delicious cookies. The small, family-run company is on a mission to cut through the gluten-free craze and offer an alternative: replacing industrial flours with freshly ground ancient and heritage grains.
While Grainstorm's rustic cookie mix, made with freshly harvested and milled spelt, kamut, and oats doesn't have the polished edge of the other mixes, it does offer a hearty and healthy vehicle by which to create your own customized cookie of choice.
Wait, you can have Christina Tosi's famed New York City Milk Bar cookies at home...out of your own oven? Indeed—but bake at your own risk: lines might start to form outside your apartment before you know it.
All the Milk Bar classics—blueberry and cream, cornflake chocolate chip, confetti, corn, and, of course, the compost cookie—are available in tins that yield a batch of 12. The at-home version might not be as perfectly executed as the one you nab from an actual Milk Bar location, but it comes pretty close.