image

First, I want to say “Welcome!” to all of those who have joined Jingle Pies and Starry Skies lately. I am humbled and honored that anyone would be interested in reading words I have written. I hope I do not disappoint.

This time of year is full of get togethers, work parties, neighborhood parties, school parties. The list goes on. One of our family favorites was always the Cookie Exchange. My children loved those. We thought about which cookies to make, and then baked, and decorated. We usually chose several different types of cookies to make and take to the parties.

When my children were little, and we had just moved into the neighborhood, they were so excited to discover the neighborhood was having a holiday cocktail/cookie exchange party.
My husband was living and working in St. Croix at the time, so the holiday preparations fell to me. I had dual duty that year of functioning as sole household holiday director and child wrangler. He got home just in time to celebrate Christmas. Involving the children in the excitement of baking kept them occupied and happy. And I knew where they were.

The cookies I chose for the exchange that year were Coconut Macaroons dipped in chocolate, Peppermint Candy Twists, and Meringue Puffs that looked like tiny Christmas trees. The rules were simple for this exchange: bring a dozen to put out at the party and enough to exchange whatever amount you wanted to exchange. In other words, if you brought two dozen to exchange, that’s how many you took home.

I discovered quickly that not everyone is a baker, but everyone loves home baked cookies. Some attendees had stopped at the local grocer and bought several dozen chocolate chip cookies and placed in a tin. There were enough home baked to bring home a nice assortment to my eagerly awaiting children. I visited the table early and chose take home cookies. My grown children still remember the cookie exchanges fondly. I do wonder how many other party attendees ended up bring home an assortment of the same store cookies that they brought, if they were late to the exchange table.

In the years after, the home baked cookie to store bought cookie ratio switched and eventually the pretense of it being a cookie exchange was dropped completely. I think it was the year that someone plopped down a package of Oreo cookies that did it.

But every year, magazines feature marvelous, wondrous cookie exchange parties. A huge spread of amazingly gorgeous cookies is featured. It barely fits on the large table. I think Southern Living even had a suggested set of guidelines to include with the invitations at one point. That would certainly avoid cookie exchange faux pas. Suggestions included “all cookies must be homemade” or “no drop cookies”, depending on what was desired. Many suggested that people inform the hostess ahead so that there are not needless duplications.
If I hostess a cookie exchange in the future, I may need to incorporate some of them. Of course, I really do like Oreos.

image

In recent years, I have gotten my cookie baking joy fix by inviting all the grandchildren to come for a cookie baking party. This photo was taken during one of these. There was apparently a contest among the kids to have the most sugar on one cookie. It is not so much an exchange as it is gigglefest and sugar overload contest. I’m sure their parents dread picking their children up and trying to get them to eat dinner, much less go to sleep afterwards. As they have grown, the older ones like to use piping bags- and in this case the “squirt in mouth” technique is perfected.
This year, I may add in an apron decorating part to the party- no, not with frosting, but with Pompoms, google eyes, and felt.

I’ll leave you with a favorite cookie recipe. The children enjoy it because it’s like playing with clay. Enjoy your holiday baking. And I wish a bountiful cookie exchange in your future.

Candy Cane Twists

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour (all purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon red coloring (I use enough red paste color to make dough red)
1/2 cup or so, crushed candy canes
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use coarse sugar)

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Mix shortening and butter together, then add the powdered sugar, egg, and flavorings.
In another bowl, mix flour and salt
Gradually sir the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
Divide the dough in half, and add red coloring to one of the halves.

Use slightly more than a teaspoon of dough of each color (although honestly, the children here use closer to a tablespoon) roll each into a smooth strip as if making a snake. Twist both color sections together like a barber pole design and bend the top to create a cane shape. Candy cane cookies!

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 8-9 minutes. The cookies should be very lightly browned. As soon as you remove them from the oven and while still hot, sprinkle the crushed candy and sugar onto them.

My children liked to hook the peppermint cane cookies over the edge of their cups of cocoa.
I hope you enjoy making these cute cookies.

Advertisements