Monday, November 23, 2009

Bench Talk: Cookie Exchange

Happy Monday Everyone!

"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat....."

The season is upon us and it's time for Christmas baking! We ladies have had a Christmas cookie exchange for many years now. Each of us bakes a dozen cookies of our choice for each person taking part in the cookie exchange. We get together one evening and go home with quite a few dozen different cookies to last the season. Ha, Ha, Ha

We thought we would share with you some of our favourite cookie recipes and tips for dressing them up for the giving.


(Cathy) Hi everyone. Baking is really not my thing. I love to cook and cooking is different from baking. The first few years I baked squares. They are a great way to get many dozen cookies or 'bars' at one baking. I did this until the ladies forbade me from baking them :)! (Sunshine) I am also not much of a baker but with Carolin's help I have managed to be able to bake some amazing pies (crust made from scratch) and some great quiche's. I have also made her pecan tazzie cookies and her ch0colate chip cookies. Let me tell you if you are lucky enough to have Caroline on the other end of your phone then anyone can bake like a world renowned pastry chef.

Magic cookie bar:

2 cups graham crumbs
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 can condensed milk
1 cup each: chopped pecans, semi-sweet chocolate chips, flaked coconut

-combine crumbs with butter and press into 13x9 pan
-pour condensed milk evenly over crumbs
-sprinkle pecans, chocolate chips, coconut, press down firmly
-bake in preheated 350 F oven for 20-25 minutes, until lightly brown
-cool then cut into 24 bars

I think I then moved to 'thimble cookies' :

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
jam of choice

-blend butter and sugar
-add egg, flour, salt and vanilla; mix together
-roll into balls and dent with thimble (or thumb)
-bake in preheated 350 F oven for 15 minutes
-take pan out of oven and make dents again; fill dents with jam of choice
-bake until light brown

I wrote down the recipe from an elementary school reader. Yes, I still have the same paper from elementary school!(Carolin) And why does that not surprise me! Remember the day Sunshine broke your 30 year old elastic band, we thought you were going to cry. Ha, ha, ha I still fell so bad about the antique elastics.

Now I make a whipped shortbread:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

-combine ingredients and beat until colour changes and batter becomes light and fluffy
-drop onto cookie sheet with a spoon, decorate with sprinkles if desired and bake in preheated 350 F oven for approx. 17 minutes or until bottoms and sides are light brown

Last year I found a recipe for a chocolate shortbread:

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 package white chocolate chipets

-preheat oven to 350 F
-in large bowl, beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add cocoa; blend well. Gradually add flour, stirring until smooth.
-roll or pat dough to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured surface; with cookie cutters, cut into holiday shapes. Re-roll dough scraps at end, cutting cookies until dough is used
-bake 15-20 minutes or just until firm. Immediately place white chocolate chips, flat side down . Let cool.

Very tasty! I think this year I will again make shortbread......unless the ladies say otherwise :)!
Sounds good to me.

Firstly, let me say that comment at the beginning about the cookies lasting the season. I am sure that only is the case in Cathy's house cause within a week they are all gone here! I freeze mine as soon as they get in the door so that I will have some cookies to share on New Years Eve.

I have always enjoyed baking but this year it has lost some of it's appeal. As now I am baking 15 dozen or more cookies every week. I have no idea what I am going to bake for the cookie exchange. In the past I would have all my recipes picked out by mid November. Usually 10 to 12 different cookies and I would make the dough in November and then freeze it. I always admired your organization and love for baking. Then in December I would just have to take out the dough and cook up the cookies. I found it a lot easier that way. But this year I have no space in my freezer for dough and I am tired. I hope that you can find that Christmas Baking Spirit that we all love so much.

This cookie exchange is all about presentation. Each year we try to come up with something different to present our cookies in. One year Sunshine gave out her cookies in a old fashion candy jar that I use to this day. Another friend attached measuring cups and spoons with her cookies and I use them at work almost daily. I am going to have to start keeping my eye out for something to serve my cookies in this year. So far I haven't any ideas. I still like my see-through cookie bags, or those plastic containers with lids the grocery store sells at Christmas time! I have also had my eye out for some cookie containers, so far nothing has really caught my eye. We have been doing this for sometime now so its hard to find something new. My younger sister who has never really understood about our cookie exchange said that she has been asked to participate in one this year at work. I think that we will get together one weekend and bake our cookies together and get all of the kids evolved if they are not too busy. Cathy it just wouldn't be the same without your see-through cookie bags or plastic containers and lids.

I am really looking forward to our annual cookie exchange

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