Try out your new recipes at a cookie exchange
Today’s cookie exchanges are less about passing on your grandmother’s famous lemon squares and more about test driving that new recipe you spied on the Internet
"It is a nice way to try others’ baking,” said Jen Huttunen who brought glazed lemon and lemon snowflake cookies to a recent cookie exchange held by her friend Vanessa Munro. “I try to choose something I haven’t made or I think people haven’t tried before.”
This is the second year this particular group of ladies, all Vancouver moms who know each other through their children’s schools, have gotten together to share cookies and celebrate the start of the holiday season.
Each participant baked one dozen small cookies or half a dozen large cookies per guest and brought extra cookies for munching on at the event. Presentation is everything. The women scoured craft and dollar stores for beautiful holiday gift boxes, bags and labels to showcase their edible treats.
Exchange participant Joanne Forst picked up a set of candy cane striped gift boxes by Martha Stewart at Michaels for her cookies. Each box has a set of built in cookie separators, enough for six cookies.
When it came to selecting a cookie for the event, Forst searched the Internet for something gluten and dairy free. She chose peanut butter bacon cookies because they were unusual and very of the moment.
“I brought peanut butter bacon cookies because they are trendy and I wanted something that would be very Christmas 2012,” said Forst.
Organizer Vanessa Munro had the women e-mail her a recipe and photo of each cookie a week before the event. She then used a computer design program to create a recipe book for each participant. The recipes were printed on standard letter paper that she folded in half and stuck together with double-sided tape. The pages were then tucked inside a cover printed from card stock.
When it came to party time, Munro put out platters of extra cookies and served coffee and Mimosas. The packaged cookies were neatly stacked in a row across her dining table to form a temporary centrepiece.
Said Forst: “This event is the kick off to the holiday season. The infusion of candy in your house . . . it is like a light turns on and Christmas is here.”
Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies
- 8 slices bacon
- 1 cup all-natural peanut butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place bacon slices in a single layer.
- Bake bacon until cooked through and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven (keep the oven on), let cool slightly, then transfer to paper towels to cool completely. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the bacon and set aside.
- Line a clean cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the peanut butter, 1 cup of the sugar, and the molasses until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, baking soda, and nutmeg, and mix on medium speed for another 2 minutes.
- Remove the paddle attachment and the bowl and use a wooden spoon to fold in the bacon and peanuts. Roll the dough into large walnut-sized balls and roll in the remaining 1/2-cup granulated sugar.
- Place on lined cookie sheet and use a fork to make that distinctive peanut butter cookie crisscross pattern. If the cookie dough begins to stick to the fork, dip it in sugar before pressing into cookie. Dough will be a little crumbly, just press together with your fingers as necessary.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will be crumbly and delicious! Cookies will last up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Makes two dozen cookies.
Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup flax seed, ground
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.
- Pour the batter into two 8 inch by 4 inch loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
- The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I like to slice and bake one loaf and pop the other in the freezer for another day.) Reduce the oven heat to 300 F and bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden. Try not to eat them all at once.
Makes about 8 dozen crackers.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 14 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 3 tbsp whole milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- For the almond topping:
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 tsp fleur de sel
- Combine flour, cocoa, sugar and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Cut butter into smaller chunks and add them to the bowl. Pulse several times. Combine milk, vanilla and almond in a small bowl and with the processor running, add the milk and continue to process until the dough starts to clump around the blade. Place dough in a bowl and knead to make sure it is blended.
- Form the dough into a log and wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour). Or if you’re impatient, freeze for 20 minutes. It just needs to be firm enough to slice.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. While dough is chilling, place almonds in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until chopped. Place onto baking sheet lined with foil and toss with sea salt. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until slightly golden and then transfer to small bowl.
- Once dough is chilled, with a sharp serrated knife, cut the dough into thin slices (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick). You can use a biscuit cutter to make perfect circles, but you don’t have to be that obsessive! Place cookies one inch apart on the lined sheets (cookies will spread slightly). Sprinkle almonds on top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through.
- Cool the cookies on racks. The cookies should crisp as they cool. If they don’t, you can return them to the oven to bake a little longer, then cool again. These cookies can be stored for up to two weeks.
Makes approximately 36-48 cookies, depending on how thin they are sliced.
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