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A cookie a day: Tammy Tauferner keeps on baking

Food columnist Holly Ebel finds clinical lab worker's holiday baking a sweet treat for everyone.

Cookie a Day
Tammy Tauferner prepares Chocolate Crinkles on Dec. 14 at her home in Rochester. Tauferner makes a different batch of cookies each day from Dec. 1-24.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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While the rest of us have likely put away the baking supplies and cookie sheets for the season, Tammy Tauferner keeps on baking.

It's part of a commitment she made six years ago to bake a cookie a day during December.

Since she works full time as a quality specialist in a clinical lab at Saint Marys Hospital, she has to be very organized, and she is. Depending on her work schedule she will be up at 5 a.m., put ingredients together and depending on the cookie, either bakes them or chills them and finishes the process when she gets home.

It was when the pandemic began that she decided to post the cookies on Facebook "to bring joy to others." Doing that has actually made her something of a cookie celebrity.
Naturally she has quite a collection of cookie recipes gathered over the years.

"I'm always looking for good ones in magazines, newspapers, online and cookbooks specifically for Christmas cookies," she said.

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A favorite collection came from a book she picked up at the used book store at Rochester Public Library. The previous owner had marked some recipes with check marks which Tauferner took to mean they were especially good — "and they were."

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So how does this marathon baker choose which ones to bake and post?

"I'm looking for unique flavors and unusual combinations. Also anything with butter gets my attention. You have to use butter," she said. "I also want variety. I recently saw a recipe that used cottage cheese as an ingredient and another with ricotta. In one of its publications, HyVee had a recipe that used just sour cream, no butter."

This season she has posted choco-cream delights, chocolate-dipped orange logs, icebox spirals, peanut butter blossoms, double chocolate truffles and gingerbread, and she still has days to go still.

However many dozen she bakes depends on the recipe.

Cookie a Day
A selection of cookies made by Tammy Tauferner Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at her home in Rochester. Tauferner makes a different batch of cookies each day from December 1-24.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

What makes this project even more special is that Tauferner gives most of the cookies away to friends, neighbors — any one she interacts with, really.

For example, on a recent trip to HyVee-Barlows, she stocked up on baking supplies. The woman at the check out was named Charlotte who mentioned she must be going to bake. Tauferner explained her project and said she'd bring her some. Cookies were delivered a few days later.

Tauferner keeps boxes of cookies in her car in case she runs into a friend or someone who looks as if they might need cheering up.

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Image.jpeg
A box of Christmas cookies from Tammy Tauferner is ready for delivery.<br/>
Contributed / Tammy Tauferner

How many in a box depends on who the recipient is — a single person will get fewer than a family.

"My goal is to let everyone have at least two or three of each kind I've included," she said.
Storing all those cookies is not a problem because they don't last that long.

She does put them in Tupperware with sheets of wax paper between each layer, and then they go into the freezer.

Of the hundreds of dozens she has baked over the years, does she have a favorite?

Cookie a Day
A fresh batch of Chocolate Crinkles prepared by Tammy Tauferner are pulled from the oven Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at her home in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

"Yes. Danish butter cookies," she said. (These were a finalist in the recent PB cookie contest). "I love the fact that it is simple, straight-forward and only has five ingredients."

These last days before Christmas she will be baking rosettes and other fried specialties because they don't freeze as well.

Cookie a Day
Tammy Tauferner prepares Chocolate Crinkles Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021,at her home in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to life@postbulletin.com .

Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to life@postbulletin.com.
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