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Keeping Cookies Ship-Shape

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2016

To find out how to ship cookies and bars so that they arrive in perfect condition, we made nine varieties and boxed them up in various combinations using different packing materials.

To find out how to ship cookies and bars so that they arrive in perfect condition, we made nine varieties and boxed them up in various combinations using different packing materials. We stored the boxes for six days to simulate shipping time, occasionally tossing them around to mimic the indignities that happen along the way. Then we unpacked them. Lessons learned:

SELECT WISELY: Gingersnaps, biscotti, meringues, and spritz cookies—varieties that are baked until dry throughout—remained intact, crunchy, and fresh-tasting. Moist, dense brownies and pecan bars also fared well. But chewy cookies that started out just slightly moist (including our Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies) ended up stale, while delicate lace cookies were reduced to shards.

COMBINE LIKE WITH LIKE: Moist items like brownies turned crisp meringues to mush, and gingersnaps transferred their spicy flavors to mild spritz cookies.

STACK BARS IN SMALL SETS: Place parchment between each piece and wrap the stack tightly with plastic wrap. Enclose cookies in zipper-lock bags; how many cookies we packed into each bag didn’t matter as long as we packed the box properly.

PACK WITH PADDING: For maximum shock absorption, surround your wrapped cookies with plenty of lightweight bulk; recycled packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and (our favorite) air-popped popcorn work well. Place the most delicate items in the very center of the box.

LIGHT PACKING MATERIAL: 3 to 4 inches on all sides and top and bottom

MOST-DELICATE ITEMS: in the center

BAR COOKIES: stacked with parchment between each, then wrapped entirely in plastic wrap

STURDY COOKIES: in zipper-lock bags