FAIRMONT — There are many ways to enjoy holiday sweets, and all of them involve happiness and sugar. In homes across the country, bakers are dusting off their Christmas aprons while local bakeries are finalizing their holiday banquet plans.

What better way to kick off the baking season than with the one thing that epitomizes holiday cheer – the cookie. Saturday marked the unofficial start of the cookie season as bakers around the world celebrated National Cookie Day.

The cookie didn’t have its own day until 1987 when Matt Nader of San Francisco’s Blue Chip Cookie Company suggested it, and it has since taken off. Today, we all can find joy in that buttery treat, that pocket-sized divine morsel. After all, who doesn’t love a cookie?

Local bakeries have begun taking orders for Christmas cookies, and according to Marsha Kisner, owner of Baker’s Nook in Farmington, it doesn’t hurt to get your order in early.

“I got a call (Friday) morning from a woman who wanted to be the first one on our list,” Kisner said. “She drove from Grafton last year and plans to do it again this year.”

Kisner started collecting cookie cutters when she was about 9, she said. “I knew I wanted to be a baker, so I started collecting them. I probably have 1,200 cookie cutters.”

Customers can request cookies in certain shapes, “anything you can imagine and I’m sure we have it,” Kisner said. “From a turkey or deer, and all of the basics, and even ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s,’” which is modeled after a series of popular horror video games that have garnered a cult following.

“We will launch our Christmas list on Monday,” Kisner said, “and we’d like cookie orders to be in by December 20.”

Baker’s Nook will offer two sizes of cookie platters, either two dozen or six dozen. Customers who are familiar with Baker’s Nook know that they can find far more than your standard sugar cookies.

‘Make everything fresh’Recent favorites at Baker’s Nook include white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, brown butter cookies, peanut butter blossoms, which Kisner described as “like a peanut butter cookie but softer, and they have a Hershey’s kiss in the center.” Another Christmas favorite is the green Grinch cookie onto which Kisner pipes a red icing heart.

“We have something new every week,” Baker’s Nook self-appointed chief taster Stephanie Pethtel said. “This week we had red velvet cookies with green M&Ms. But Marsha is famous for her chocolate chip cookies.”

Freshly made cookies are also packaged and ready for shoppers to dash in and make a quick purchase.

Customers also look to Kisner and her crew for customized cookies. “We do everything from hand-painting to air-brushing any designs,” Kisner said. “We’ve done ‘Elf on the Shelf’ personalized cookies, and I’ve done car logos.”

For hand-painted cookies, Kisner makes her own icing.

“A lot of places use tub frosting, but we make ours,” Kisner said. “Let me put it this way – we buy a lot of butter. We make everything fresh and we constantly change.”

Fairmont is no different than the rest of the country when it comes to the growing popularity of home-based businesses.

One such enterprise, WV Cookie Jar, started as a way for owner Beverly Clutter to practice her skills at decorating cookies. With each new post on her social media accounts, Clutter saw increasing interest in her talent.

It wasn’t long before people were placing orders for her cookies through Facebook or Instagram.

Recently, she adjusted the name to WV Cookie Jar & More, which reflects her expanding product line. But in keeping with the latest trends, Clutter continues to work from home, and she is quick to note that she has a cottage food license, which was set up for people exactly like her.

Before 2019, cottage food businesses in West Virginia were able to sell their goods only at farmer’s markers or occasional community events. But with the passage of Senate Bill 285, home bakers such as Clutter became the latest group of entrepreneurs to benefit from the work-from-home trend.

To help local folks improve their cookie decorating skills, Clutter offers cookie decorating classes. On Saturday — National Cookie Day — Clutter held such a class.

“I teach people to decorate sugar cookies in their own venue,” Clutter said. “It could be at someone’s home or at their church or wherever they have access to a larger space. I just make sure the minimum is five people, but it can be as large as the space will hold. We always have a blast.”

This year, Clutter will sell her cookies at the Hometown Christmas Market that’s being held in conjunction with downtown Fairmont’s Feast of the Seven Fishes on Dec. 10 and 11. Customers who know and love her creations will be able to purchase directly from her during those two days.

Because she has a real talent for decorating cookies, Clutter often receives custom orders with names and dates.

“My basic vanilla sugar cookie is always my biggest seller,” Clutter said. “I get orders for baby showers, first birthdays, bridal showers and weddings.”

Customers who want to place online orders can find Clutter’s business by going to WV Cookie Jar & More on Facebook or Instagram.

There’s no reason that people watching their glycemic index can’t enjoy this national celebration.

Over the past several years, scientists have come up with ways to use natural ingredients to replicate the taste of sugar. Keep in mind, we’re not talking about saccharine or other chemical sweeteners.

To reach Lori Riley, email lriley@timeswv.com.

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