Jessica Wilson Graves takes cookies seriously.
For the annual Lawrenceville cookie tour earlier this month, which Wilson Graves described as a low-stress way for shoppers to check out stores in the neighborhood, the Una Biologicals owner and founder had 25 types of cookies, as well as hot tea and a soundtrack of holiday tunes.
And shoppers loved it.
Or at least they must have, because her organic beauty and wellness store went on to become the cookie tour’s first-ever winner of the Cookie Cup, as voted on by tour participants.
It’s “a Pittsburgh cookie table in December,” she said, and added that having the competition for the Stanley Cup-inspired cookie cup this year made it even more fun.
So how do you become cookie tour champ?
Wilson Graves is a baker, but she doesn’t do the cookie tour prep alone. It’s a group effort with staff members, family, friends and a “fabulous team of grandmas and aunties,” she said. They start making dough and freezing it as early as October.
Last year, Wilson Graves had 120 dozen homemade cookies and ran out, so she bought 40 dozen more for the last day of the tour. This year, she started with 220 dozen and still had to buy 30 dozen more. Next year, Wilson Graves said she and her team will make 300 dozen cookies because running out is “not an option that I found acceptable.”
For the cookie tour, Wilson Graves, a self-described Pittsburgh transplant, said the key is to not get too fancy. Her contributions this year included pumpkin spice cookies with a spice frosting, chocolate peanut butter cookies with chocolate chunks and molasses crinkle cookies.
At home, it’s another story. Her favorites are chocolate gingerbread sandwich cookies shaped like reindeer with a mascarpone filling and icing on top.
Those are the fancy ones that people really fight over, she said. But Wilson Graves said she has a secret: the cookie recipe is from Food & Wine.