The holidays may come and go, but our obsession with cookies, those crunchy, crispy, chewy, and sweet wonders, will never die, because cookies tell our story. Your childhood, your Girl Scout troop, your grandmother, your culture, all on view. One woman’s lebkuchen is another’s gingerbread; my twice-baked cookie might be biscotti or Mandelbrot. Nut-centric cookies such as Chinese almond, Mexican wedding, French macarons, and pecan sandies span the globe. For Proust, the lingering taste of a perfect madeleine took him back to his childhood.

Holiday cookie exchanges are a godsend for the fanatics among us, but I, for one, cannot get enough. If there are cookies on a restaurant’s dessert menu (preferably a cookie plate), there is no contest in my book — they will be ordered. Truly, they are the perfect dessert; a bite or two of sweetness and concentrated flavor with an espresso or a cup of tea is all you need after a meal.

Special cookie events this holiday season that I’m especially jazzed about include Publican Quality Meat’sCross-Country Holiday Cookie Swap (Dec. 10-24), where a national who’s who of celebrity bakers (Joanne ChangFlour Bakery + Café, Boston; Dolester MilesHighlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama; Lisa LudwinskiSister Pie, Detroit; Jessica KoslowSqirl, Los Angeles; Anna PoseyElske, Chicago; and more!) join Erika Chan of The Publican to share signature cookies (think Valhrona Fleur de Sels, Coconut Drops, and Scandinavian Gingersnaps). The sweetest ending of all? A portion of proceeds from the Cookie Swap will benefit Chicago-based nonprofit Deborah’s Place to aid women affected by homelessness. Cookies can be purchased over the counter at Publican Quality Meats, or on The Publican’s dessert menu, where you can order the Publican Holiday Cookie Jar assortment. What are you waiting for? I’m already on my way.

Over at theWit Hotel in the Loop, Banchet Award-winning pastry chef Toni Roberts showcases her irresistible holiday sweets at theWit’s Winter Wonder Pop-Up Shop in the lobby (open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day during the holiday season). One peep at her Get Lit! Hazelnut Holiday Lights, Peanut Butter Penguins, and Peppermint Mocha Macarons and your holiday cookie needs will be answered. You can also order them online if you can’t make it downtown.

You might have missed the Fairmont Chicago’s annual Cookies and Cheer luxury cookie exchange last month, but never fear … the celebration continues through Jan. 31 at THE BAR with their seasonal “Smitten for Sweets” menu. Each cookie-inspired cocktail will be accompanied by a companion cookie, perhaps a Rosemary Shortbread, Brandy Snap Tuile, or even a Kumquat Macaroon.

Looking for a restaurant that understands and caters to your cookie addiction on a regular basis? Check out these favorites.


Their bounteous pastry bar includes treats both gluten-free (Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Macaroons) and gluten-full (Chocolate Chunk, Butterscotch Oatmeal, Lemon Crisps, Stuffed Nutella Cookies, and more). It’s almost an embarrassment of riches, but cookies feel no shame, nor should they.

Summer House Santa Monica

cookies: Summer House Santa Monica

How important are cookies to the ethos of this Lettuce Entertain You Lincoln Park favorite? The huge display case is the first thing you see when you walk in the door. That is no accident, my friends. If you aren’t seduced by the giant Rice Crispy Chocolate Chip, Apple Oatmeal, Gingersnap, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Walnut, or S’Mores cookies, let’s face it — you are probably much thinner than me.