Ever since Brandon and I started sharing our holidays together (this will be our 11th Christmas - that is just... crazy!) I have enjoyed celebrating with our respective families - but even more - I've enjoyed creating our own little traditions as a couple. And now - as a young mom - with a daughter who is just starting to "get" the excitement of this time of year - I find myself wanting to find ways to make this time of year special or UNIQUE not only for "the parents" but for our family.
I want my girls to understand the meaning of why we do the things we do (the celebrating, the gift-giving, the feasting...) but I also simply want them to enjoy it and capture some of the "magic" of Christmas. And the last thing I want is to get so caught up in crazy December to-do lists (shopping, baking, hosting, ...) or trying to make things so picture-perfect... that the true spirit of Christmas is forgotten along the way.
The idea of having a variety of home-made treats to serve guests or give as gifts at Christmas time is a classic example. It's a nice idea , a yummy tradition... but also a rather time consuming one. I don't know about you - but as much as I love to have home-made baking on hand to serve my guests, I just don't have the time (or perhaps the will power) to slave away baking (and decorating) a variety of cookies, bars and truffles - especially in December!
A cookie swap is a fun and more importantly - a practical (!) - solution! Have you ever been to a "cookie swap"? Have you ever heard of one? I was introduced to the concept 2 years ago... and hosted my very own for the first time this afternoon. The idea is simple. I invited some of my favorite ladies over with instructions to bake 8-10 dozen of a favorite cookie (or bar). After some indulging and taste-testing, we "swap" and everyone leaves with a great variety of home-made baked goods!
Not only am I now stocked with a fantastic assortment of Christmas goodies - hosting the swap gave me a great excuse to try out a couple new cookie recipes (Remember the Angelettis? ...well, they made it to the swap!). The girls brought some amazing goodies... (recipes are all listed below if you're looking for a little inspiration) and several of them pre-packaged their treats in festive bags or trusty Ziploc's! So handy... so practical :-)
Since not everyone could join me for my "cookie party" - I'm going to give you a chance to get in on the fun by sharing the recipes with you. I can personally vouch for all of these recipes and say that they are excellent - I should know - I tried every single one this afternoon. DELICIOUS!
So here they are (in no particular order of importance - just alphabetical!)
2) Chocolate Chip Cookies
3) Ginger and Molasses Snaps
4) Maple Glazed Pecan Cookies
5) Mocha Chunk Cookies
6) Orange Sable Cookies
7) Rocky Road Squares
8) White Chocolate Dalmatians
Contributed by ME (of course I picked a cookie that starts with "A" just so I could put mine first...)
*Since I already wrote about these in my AOK "trial" Gourmet series - you can click here for the recipe.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
contributed by Leslie
1 cup margarine or butter ( I use becel olive oil margarine)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla (I use 2 tablespoons of vanilla or more)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp salt (I don’t use salt)
300 g CHIPITS® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
**I add a tbsp of unsweetened applesauce too.
- Heat oven to 375°F.
- In large bowl, beat shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar until fluffy.
- Beat in eggs and vanilla until creamy.
- In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
- Gradually blend into creamed mixture.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Drop from small spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes, until golden brown.
- I NEVER COOK MY COOKIES FOR AS LONG AS THEY SAY TO, IT KEEPS THEM MOIST
Ginger and Molasses Snaps
Contributed by Karla
4 1/2 cup flour Instructions:
2tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup shortening
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
- Stir dry ingredients together
- Beat shortening and sugar in a separate bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses and continue beating.
- Begin adding dry mix to the beaten mixture until blended (use a wooden spoon at this point or else mixer may smoke )
- Roll mix into balls, and roll balls into sugar (can use icing sugar or sugar crystals)
- Place on cookie sheet and bake 350F for 12-14 mins (cookies should be light brown and puffed and hopefully not smoking).
- Let cool 2 mins and enjoy.
Glazed Maple-Pecan Cookies
Contributed by Aimee (UtHC blogger!)
*Recipe is available on Aimee's blog - Under the High Chair.
Mocha Chunk Cookies
Contributed by Charlene
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons coffee liqueur
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
10 oz semi sweet chocolate OR white chocolate (chopped)
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl
- Dissolve coffee in liqueur in small bowl (* you can use water instead)
- In large bowl, blend sugars, add butter until grainy, add egg and coffee.
- Beat until smooth
- Add flour mixture and chocolate chunks… DO NOT OVERMIX
- Bake 6-8 minutes
Orange Sable Cookies
Orange Sable Cookies
Contributed by Jamie
Contributed by Jamie
1 ¼ cups whole blanched almonds (6 ¼ oz). (Modification: 6 ¼ oz ground almonds to save time)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
3 tbsp finely grated orange zest (2 to 4 oranges)
1 large egg
Orange and almond extract, to taste (JS addition)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sanding or granulated sugar, for rolling
- Place almonds and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal; set aside. (Modification: I simply mixed my ground almonds with the confectioners’ sugar)
- Place butter and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. On low, add almond mixture; beat until combined, 10 to 15 seconds. Add egg and orange juice; combine. Add flour; combine. (Modification: I added a bit of orange and almond extracts because they were lacking in flavour)
- Place in fridge for approx 30 min so that the dough is easier to handle (JS additional step)
- Place two 12-by-16-inch pieces of parchment on a clean work surface. Divide dough in half. Form a rough log with each half; place on parchment. Fold parchment over dough; use a ruler to roll and press dough into 1 1/2-inch-diameter logs. Wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Spread sanding sugar in a baking pan. Unwrap logs; roll in sugar to coat. Cut into scant 1/4-inch-thick rounds; place on sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until edges turn golden, about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
1 ½ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup butter or margarine (melted)
1 ½ cups flaked coconut
1 ½ cups chopped nuts (optional)
1 pkg (300 g) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
3 squares (oz) semi sweet chocolate, melted (or you can just use chocolate chips)
- Combine crumbs and butter. Press into 13 x9 inch pan.
- Sprinkle coconut over crumbs.
- Add layer of nuts (optional) chocolate chips and marshmallows
- Drizzle condensed milke evenly over top
- bake at 350 F for 25-30 min (or until golden brown)
- Remove from oven, drizzle with melted chocolate. Let cool.
- Cut into bars.
*Makes about 36 bars
4 oz white chocolate
3/4 lb butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz mini morsels
- Preheat to 325.
- Melt chocolate over double boiler and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar together until soft. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides then beat again until light. Add chocolate and vanilla. Gradually add the flour. Add the chocolate chips.
- Take heaping tablespoon of batter and roll in your hands into a ball. Place on cookie sheet with a parchment liner and pat down a bit.
- Cook for 14-16 minutes, rotating pans. Let cool about 10 minutes before removing from pan. Store in airtight container or freeze.
*From Marcel Desaulniers Death by Chocolate Cookies