Crafting Creative Cookies and Treats for the Holidays

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Christmas-themed cookies baked by Patty Sales. Michael Heller photo

If there is anyone in East Hampton with a mouthwatering Instagram feed worth following, Patty Sales — the energetic baker behind Cousin Patty’s Cookies — is definitely one of them, particularly this time of year.

Sales has been baking like crazy lately, from decorated shortbread and Linzer cookies to classic chocolate chips and armies of gingerbread men, even some decorated as rabbis for Hanukkah.

She has loved baking since she was young and has done it as far back as she can remember.

“We were never shooed out of the kitchen,” Sales said, recalling baking sessions with her mother and grandmother. Her favorite cookies to bake are peanut butter blossoms, which they called “Nana Mac’s,” after her grandmother.

But with a background as a nursery school teacher, having taught at Most Holy Trinity, Stella Maris Regional School and the Neighborhood House, and later a career in restaurant management — she and her husband, Tony, owned Newtown Café from 1984 to 1990 — being a cookie queen wasn’t something she originally envisioned.

She only started selling her cookies widely about four years ago after getting a gentle nudge from a friend, longtime summer resident Jessica Barkoff. Barkoff presented her with a blue-and-white patterned apron with “Cousin Patty” embroidered across the bib in red letters, and Sales had little choice — she had togo pro.

“I always loved it and thought it would be fun to do,” Sales said. “It just kind of happened. After people had crumbs falling from their mouths from things I had given them, they said, ‘You can sell these.’”

Sales got her start at local craft fairs, but one of her big breaks came when she was invited by Williams Sonoma in Bridgehampton to do a pop-up shop last Thanksgiving. She has

contributed cookies for events at the Children’s Museum of the East End and events that support veterans, causes that are close to her heart. She bakes year-round, most frequently whipping up batches of buttery shortbread, she said. The largest order she ever finished was 12 dozen, for an event at the children’s museum.

“Chocolate chips I can do in a few hours if I’m not doing anything else,” she said. “The decorated ones take a few days.”

One of the highlights of the last few years was making what Sales called a “bookie” — a cookie resembling a book cover — for author and close friend Tom Clavin for Authors Night at the East Hampton

Library. Clavin’s publisher had not sent copies of his latest book for him to sign, but Sales had made dozens of cookies imitating its cover, so Clavin found himself signing the backs of the plastic cookie wrappers instead of the title pages of the books themselves.

Most days, Sales can be found in one of two places: her daughter Molly’s house in Springs, taking care of her 14-month-old granddaughter Claire, or her own house in East Hampton, baking her various cookies.

As Claire smiled and handed a visitor one of her shoes on a recent morning, Sales reflected on the appeal of baking.

“It’s like therapy,” she said. “It really is.”

For more information, follow Sales on Instagram at @cousinpattyscookies or visit her online at facebook.com/cousinpattyscookies.

Sweet Treats From Around Town

It’s time for those with a serious sweet tooth to revel in the holiday season, when treats of all types are readily available almost everywhere one looks. Bake shops all across the East End are offering a variety of cookies, cakes, loaves, tarts and more — specialties that will be hard-to-find for the rest of the year. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there right now.

Gingerbread Men from Sag Harbor Baking Company.

Sag Harbor Baking Co. in Sag Harbor

Mimi Yardley and Margaret Wagner are marking the Sag Harbor Baking Co.’s 17th holiday season on Division Street. The village’s holiday headquarters for baked treats, one can find holiday favorites such as tart meringues and cookies decorated for all occasions ($2 to $4 each; $50 for full platters). Sag Harbor Baking Co. is located at 51 Division Street in Sag Harbor and can be reached at (631) 899-4900.

Pumpkin Spice Bread from Levain Bakery.

Levain Bakery, Wainscott

Levain Bakery offers a seasonal pumpkin spice bread during fall and winter at $3.25 for a hefty slice. A whole 16-inch loaf is $45 and a half loaf is $25. Levain is located at 354 Montauk Highway in Wainscott, with New York City locations as well, and can be reached at (631) 537-8570.

Krieg’s Bakery, Hampton Bays

Krieg’s Bakery makes a number of sweet treats, such as German dark chocolate bark, available in peppermint, almond and other flavors ($14/pound). Apple crumb pie ($18) is a Thanksgiving hit here, as is the Christmas stollen, a traditional German bread. Krieg’s is located at 39 West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays and can be reached at (631) 728-6524.

Ali Katz Kitchen, Mattituck

Ali Katz opened her brick-and-mortar kitchen in February after spending years on the North Fork food scene doing pop-ups and partnerships. Her holiday treats include sweet, minty meringues ($5 each), tea cakes such as chocolate bundt ($8.50 to $10 each) and assorted cookies including gingersnaps, gingerbread men, linzer cookies, walnut shortbread stars, rugelach and orange shortbread sandwich cookies ($20 to $25 per pound depending on the variety). Ali Katz Kitchen is at 55 Middle Road (Route 48) and can be reached at (631) 298-7694.

Deer cupcake toppers from Dawn’s Delicious Delights.

Dawn’s Delicious Delights, Montauk

Montauk resident Dawn Rennar gets innovative with her designs, including homemade marshmallows and brownies, holiday cookie pops ($3 each, minimum 12 per order minimum) and cupcakes ($3.75 each, 12 per order minimum). She can be reached by email at dawn@dawnsdeliciousdelights.com. Her homegrown treats are also available at The Candied Anchor in Montauk at 721 Main Street.

Junda’s Pastry Crust and Crumbs, Jamesport

A longtime bakery staple built into an historic house on the North Fork, Junda’s is known for its apple strudel, old-school jelly doughnuts, babkas, crumb cakes and more. Junda’s is located at 1612 Main Road in Jamesport and can be reached at (631) 722-4999.

Tate’s Bake Shop, Southampton

Tate’s is a can’t-go-wrong East End holiday choice, with favorites like peppermint cookie bark, white chocolate-covered pretzel snowflakes spiced pumpkin loaf and classic cookie flavors (prices vary). Tate’s Southampton bakery is located at 43 North Sea Road and can be reached at (631) 283-9830.

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