Celebrate season with gourmet cookies

CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – With the popularity of farmers markets and flea markets, pop-up shops – temporary or seasonal businesses – are becoming more popular as well. Celebrate Knoxville’s Food Writer Mary June Thompson is taking advantage of this trend by baking up her own special gourmet holiday cookies this year, including flavors such as Mexican Chocolate and Chai Shortbread.

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Thompson is already a familiar face to Celebrate Knoxville readers, as her previous Sustainable Cooking columns utilizing fresh produce from the Market Square Farmers Market received lots of positive feedback and continues to show up in popular searches for the site. Thompson counts Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), Sean Brock, of Husk and McCrady’s restaurants in Charleston, SC, and having visited 48 states and 7 countries among her greatest cooking influences.

Where did the idea for this holiday cookies pop-up shop come from? I actually had a similar thing I wanted to do last year, but some things happened unexpectedly and I didn’t have the time. I always keep up with the current food trends, and pop-ups have been a big thing for a while now, so I thought that model fit perfectly with what I wanted to do–bake yummy treats for the holidays for a limited amount of time.

Are you creating recipes from ones you love (and have tried) or are you taking requests from clients? I am offering 7 different kinds of cookies (Triple Chocolate Chip with Sea Salt, Mexican Chocolate, Snickerdoodles, Ginger, Loaded Oatmeal, and Chai Shortbread) including a gluten free option, (Pistachio Amaretti). The offerings were carefully selected to be different from what one would typically find at a local bakery, including some twists on classics, as well as kinds people may never have had before. At this time, I am not taking special requests.

Do you ship them or do people have to live in Knoxville to get them? I will ship at cost for those who don’t live here but don’t want to miss out on the cookies.

Still trying the recipes out on your husband, JT or do you have other taste testers? JT is always my #1 taste tester, although several of the cookie varieties have been enjoyed by others in the past.

Celebrate Knoxville ran a story awhile back about your Valentine’s Day chocolate cookies. Any plans to continue this December shop into other holidays? I don’t have any definite plans at this time, but this has been very successful, so it’s not out of the question that I might offer a pop-up shop again.

What is the best way for people to place an order? Do you have the prices on Facebook? I am actually pretty much booked solid for the remainder of the time frame I am doing this, but I could possibly squeeze in a couple more orders for the weekend of the 11th-13th. Pricing is $20 per batch for all cookies except the Pistachio Amaretti, which are $25. Each batch consists of 2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on recipe yield. (I do have pricing and cookie descriptions in a previous Facebook post.)

Best cookie for someone who has been good this year is…. The Triple Chocolate Chip with Sea Salt. A modern twist on a classic that everyone loves.

Best cookie for someone who has been bad this year is… Whatever their least favorite flavor is, I suppose. But they still might enjoy them because the cookies are just that good, ha ha.

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Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine.

Celebrate Knoxville, December 4, 2015.