Charcuterie, cookies, and cakes — serve your guests some magical flavors this holiday season.
By Kate Rader • Photos by Social Connection Marketing
So many of us are looking forward to getting together again. To help make entertaining a little easier, we’ve scoped out some delectable snacks, made by unique local businesses. Whether you shop with them, or another area gourmet, we hope you find some exciting ways to tempt tastebuds this holiday season!
AN ARTFUL ARRANGEMENT
After salons closed in 2020 when Covid-19 struck, hairstylist Amanda Davis wondered if, and when, she would be able to go back to work. The mother of two says she’s “always been a snacker,” and discovered she had a knack for creating beautiful—and delicious—charcuterie trays. She found herself sharing her meat and cheese designs on Facebook and got a great response.
“I found someone I could rent a kitchen through, and it just took off,” she says, of the Hagerstown-based business she named Mint To Brie Charcuterie. Amanda now makes her flavorful charcuterie in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors—from family-sized boards and picnic boxes to grazing tables for baby and bridal showers and weddings
Buoyed by a rise in casual, picnic-style eating, charcuterie boards have become popular because of their customizable, affordable, and luxurious feel. Amanda now supplies her goodies to local markets and even teaches monthly DIY workshops at Antietam Creek Vineyards, where students learn how to fold the meat, cut cheese, and what pairings go well together.
Inspired by her affection for snacking, Mint To Brie Charcuterie owner/designer Amanda Davis creates charcuterie of all flavors and sizes.
“I love having a bunch of different choices. You can eat on charcuterie all day long and it lasts for a couple of days.” Perfect for fall entertaining, her 16” Charcuterie tray features high-quality meats and cheeses, seasonal fruits and nuts, spreads, and more.
CUT OUT FOR COOKIES
When Jolene Thomas’s son moved out of their Hagerstown home, she found herself with more free time and a desire to “do something creative, where I can give back, and meet new people.” After watching bakers create artistic designs using royal icing on the Food Network’s Holiday Cookie Challenge, she thought she’d give it a try. “I just went on YouTube, watched videos, and got started,” she says.
Her charming designs and meticulous attention to detail have kept Jolene busy making custom cookies for birthday parties, weddings, open houses, graduations, and more. The high-speed videos she posts on Instagram and Facebook have garnered a lot of attention, demonstrating how many steps go into decorating each cookie. “It can take up to 10 minutes to decorate just one cookie, plus baking, color mixing, and drying time,” she says. “Royal icing is challenging because there are so many consistencies you may need.”
Jolene is inspired by other cookie makers and by her clients, who often suggest themes. One of her favorite recent designs—of a pumpkin in a frilly onesie—was for a “Little Pumpkin” baby shower. “If I see something cute, I just want to cookie-fie it,” noting that she also offers packaged cookie sets for most holidays and is pleased to give back by donating a portion of her proceeds to nonprofits like Eyes for India and Christmas Behind Bars.
The ideas are seemingly endless for Jolene Thomas, who bakes colorful sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. Jolene’s Cookies offers a limited number of gift-boxed treats for the holidays. These jolly likenesses of Santa and Mrs. Claus surrounded by bottles of milk and chocolate chip cookies remind us that it’s fun to share the spirit of the season.
A SLICE OF GOOD CHEER
Known for her ever-changing menu of delights, Karen Surrano enjoys making desserts that highlight high-quality, seasonal ingredients and flavors that complement the changing seasons. Owner of the newly-opened Buttercreme Market, Karen bakes a wide variety of cakes, tarts, pies, cookies, bars, scones, and more—and serves them up in a charming, vintage, market-type setting.
The owner of home-based Buttercreme Bakery since 2006, Karen sold her baked goods at festivals and marketplaces until Covid closed shops, leaving devoted customers asking her for home deliveries. In response, Karen created monthly goodie boxes filled with their favorite sweet treats.
As restrictions eased, Karen realized she wanted to create a more interactive environment, and opened Buttercreme Market in Hagerstown, where customers can enjoy a slice and shop for painted furniture and vintage décor.
Always challenging herself with new ideas, Karen posts fresh selections on Facebook along with photos of new recipes. Local favorites include anything with chocolate and peanut butter, cinnamon rolls with Bourbon butter frosting, cherry tarts, peach pie, Key Lime pie, and coconut cake—but her top seller is a moist, two-layer Red Velvet cake made with traditional white frosting.
At Buttercreme Market in Halfway, owner Karen Suranno is known for using the freshest,locally-sourced ingredients for her desserts, all of which are made from scratch. Serve up her Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheese Tart made with a flaky crust, creamy lemon curd, and fresh raspberries topped with sweet raspberry reduction for a memorable New Year’s brunch.
A special thanks to Karen at Buttercreme Market for hosting our photo shoot and video!