Cookie Exchange

The Sonoma Spice Queen hosts the 2nd Annual Cookie Exchange.

As part of the Petaluma Downtown Association’s “Merchant’s Holiday Open House,” the Sonoma Spice Queen will be hosting its 2nd Annual Cookie Exchange.

The event, which begins at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, at the organic spice-maker’s 407 C St. location, invites participants to bake cookies from their own family recipes to trade with other bakers who have done the same.

The event was long in the coming for Sonoma Spice Queen proprietess Wind McAlister who always wanted to host a cookie exchange when growing up but had trouble achieving buy-in with her family.

“No one would ever humor me,” McAlister says with a smile. “When we were thinking about what we wanted to do for the holidays, I said I wanted to have a cookie exchange because I wanted to bring families, history and culture together through spices and recipes.”

Last year’s cookie exchange was a hit with 60 participants. McAlister attributes the success to recipes being an important part of cultural transmission and cookies, in particular, being a popular way to share one’s traditions.

“When I was looking into the culture I share with my daughter and husband – we have a lot of German ancestry – so I wanted to develop a spice for the holidays that would recognize that,” explains McAlister. “So, we did a Bavarian gingerbread spice.”

Bavarian Gingerbread Spice

Bavarian gingerbread spice is a traditional German spice mixture that can be found throughout the country and becomes especially prevalent during the holidays in shops known as Christkindlesmarkts, a term often translated in the states as “Kris Kringle Mart.”

“Everybody uses it to make gingerbread cookies and gingerbread cake,” says McAlister. “It’s very different from the spice you find here in America. Here, it’s only a couple of ingredients but in Germany, it’s a very flavorful spice and very fragrant. It’s got cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, black pepper, and allspice. It just makes these really delicious cookies.”

McAlister asks that participants bake at least a dozen cookies to share and emphasizes a “Must bake to take” policy.

The Sonoma Spice Queen 2nd Annual Cookie Exchange begins at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 at 407 C Street. For more information, on the Cookie Exchange and other Merchant Holiday Open House events, visit the Petaluma Downtown Association site.

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