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HE FIRST THING you need to know about baking the perfect sugar cookie — buttery yet light, crunchy yet crumbly — is that well-chilled dough is a must. An absolute must, says Martha Green. And she should know. Green, owner of The Eating Room restaurant and Dough’Lectibles bakery in Redlands, is the city’s reigning cookie queen. In her bustling and cozy restaurant, where lunch is easily stretched into a two- or three-hour affair, Green invites me to pull up a chair as she chats with two longtime friends. “I love sweets,” she confesses, drawing out “love” an extra beat. “People say you get used to it being around it, but that’s not true.” Death by chocolate, a dense, brownie-like treat, was her favorite for years until a friend shared a recipe for Swedish oatmeal cookies. She describes the twice-baked cookie’s sugared almond topping with the reverence of a true connoisseur.

“I’ve just never seen anything like it anywhere.” Green dusts our conversation with introductions to her friends, a visiting chef and her staff, and comments on her favorite holiday treats — stollen, mini fruitcake bites she used to make for her son, and two-bite rugelachs with chocolate chips or raisins — sold in her bakery. She warns bakers to take note of the rising price of nuts — “that is going to have an impact on holiday baking,” she predicts. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, even peanut butter — anything made with nuts has doubled in price in recent months, she says. But back to that sugar cookie dough. “Probably the easiest cookie anybody could make is that one right there,” Green says, pointing at a box filled with frosted sugar cookies prepared by her bakery manager, Laura Neal. (Whether a novice home baker like myself could decorate reindeer cookies so they appear to have Christmas tree lights tangled in their antlers is another matter.) That first rule of successful sugar cookie baking —

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Abraham and Vanover took an idea, improved it and turned it into a wonderful gift to the community. Their engagement and buy-in is just the...

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