If you have a vacation rental or home swap, you’ve probably heard from marketing experts that greeting your guests with delicious treats – a platter of fruit, bottle of wine, baked goods, a cheese plate – is a surefire way to delight them.
And delighting your guests is what your home stay is all about.
I freely admit to being partial to homemade treats over commercially bought ones. When you make something from scratch for your guests, they know it. They recognize the sublime imperfection of a homemade tart, cookie or crumble. Home baked delicacies are instantly heartwarming and reign supreme over their characterless store bought counterparts. Sensorial first impressions cannot be overlooked in the hospitality business; they go a long way in making guests feel happy. Entering a room ripe with the scent of cinnamon, caramelized sugar and cooked fruit is pure heaven. Right from the start.
It is well known that eating and smelling delicious treats creates visceral memories linking the eater to the place in which the treat was eaten. Nigel Slater, English food writer and journalist, writes of it in a 2006 Observer article
In many cases the taste or smell of a sweet, a cake or an entire meal is capable of painting a picture with richer, deeper brush strokes than any snapshot in their photograph album. It is curious that, while I struggle to remember my mobile phone number or grapple helplessly to recall the closest of friends’ names when I am required to introduce them to someone, the merest sniff of chocolate ice cream has been known to bring back memories from 20, 30, 40 years ago with frightening clarity. Put that same ice cream on a little wooden spoon and I can recall the cinema I was in when I ate it, the feel of the (red) velvet seats on the back of my bare knees, the colour of the ice-cream attendant’s overall (lemon, with green piping). Details more glowing than if I had eaten that ice cream two hours ago.
Food memories root us in time and space, so logically, if you offer some unforgettable, delectable treat, your guests will remember the exact spot (your vacation retreat!) where they ate it. And it’s likely that they may even want to return to your lovely abode in the future. The power of delicious food cannot be overlooked in your vacation rental marketing.
What do I make, you ask? It depends on your culinary talents. I always say, go with something you know will delight your guests; something time tested. Something you ALWAYS get great feedback on. Our community is full of amazing cooks and bakers and I look forward to hearing more about your delightful culinary creations in future.
In the meantime though, let’s talk about cookies. After all, this post is about A Perfect Welcome Cookie, right?
First of all, I am a big fan of cookies. Or as the English say “biscuits.”
If our family is greeted by a platter of homemade cookies upon entering a home stay for the first time, we are happy. Really happy! And if the cookies are extra delicious, we all remember the rental.
For a really, really long time.
“Remember that place in which we stayed in Mendocino? You know, the place with the really good cookies?”
“Oh yeah! Let’s go back there again. I loved that place and maybe they will have cookies again.”
Kids especially remember the cookies and remember the vacation lodging that supplied them.
So why a cookie? Cookies bring with them a certain frivolity, as if simply eating them brings you back to childhood. They are easy to eat. There is no plate to wash up.
And baking them is easy too. No kneading, no double boilers, no cutting butter into flour.
So now what I consider the recipe for The Perfect Cookie.
What makes it a perfect cookie? Every person, upon biting into it for the first time, sighs with toe-tingling pleasure. As if they have finally arrived in their quest for the perfect cookie.
This cookie has been tested by people of all ages, cultures, and in many different types of situations and every time, they go deliriously mad over it. People beg for the recipe. Every time. And not like, “Oh, can I have the recipe” and then forget about it. No! In fact, they track me down, text, email, phone me and nag until they have it in hand.
So here it is. Try it out. Make these cookies and then watch how your guests ooh and ahh over them. And make sure you have the recipe available because I guarantee they will ask for it.
THE PERFECT WELCOME COOKIE
1 ½ cups of flour
* 1 cup cashew meal (if you can’t find it, just grind up raw cashews until you have a fine powder)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
* ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 sticks butter
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
tart raspberry jam (test it beforehand to make sure it’s tart)
1. In a medium bowl, whisk flours with coconut, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a standing mixer, mix the butter with sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. About 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla, scraping down sides and bottom of pan.
3. Beat in dry ingredients at medium-low speed. Cover with plastic and put bowl in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet. After taking dough out of refrigerator, make 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart from each other on cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 14 minutes. Take out of oven and make an indention in center of each cookie. Fill with raspberry jam.
6. Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Cool on racks.
* Note: For those who do not like coconut and/or cashews, do not fear. I promise you will NOT taste it in these cookies. It is mysterious, really, but for some reason, people never guess that both coconut and cashew are ingredients. Whatever you do, DO NOT omit either of them. They provide the blissful crunch of texture that make these cookies perfect.
These are extra delicious if eaten warm (not hot or the jam will burn your tongue!), but that’s true of most cookies, right?
Readers! Please share your own recipes of insanely delicious treats you leave for your guests (or that you make for yourself). Our goal should be to have a fool-proof resource of A-List Treat Recipes for our subscriber community.
Post your recipes on my Facebook Page. I’ll test bake every one. Promise!
Now go make these delicious cookies and tell me what you think! And have an awesome (fully booked up) weekend!