Foodie Cookie Exchange

If you’re one of the special (and lucky) people who participate in holiday cookie exchanges, I’ll bet you’ve already begun to haul out the mixing bowls, cookie sheets, and wooden spoons.

My experience with cookie exchanges is like this: “Help!”

Okay, to be fair, it’s a lot of work, but it’s also worth it. My ladies’ small groups met one winter night to bring cookies, fudge, and brownies to share. The idea was to bring a dozen (or more) cookies to share and we all got to select a dozen (or more). The tables were so full and the choices were so varied. How do you make up your mind?

I guess that’s another opportunity to say, “Help!”

I’m sure you have favorites you like to make, including the traditional choices and family must-haves. If you want to try something new, try these. I especially like the coal ones because it’s such a cute idea and I like chocolate, of course. These are richer than the usual crispy treat variety, don’t look as dark, and take a bit more time, but again, worth it. Both recipes require a dough from the fridge or freezer. The shortbread cookies require baking, but maybe you want the oven hot so it’s all nice and cozy while you sip hot chocolate.

Funfetti Shortbread Bites

  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp. red and green nonpareils or sprinkles

Cream together the sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter until combined. Add the flour and mix well. Transfer dough to a large bowl and knead until it’s nicely formed. Add nonpareils and knead again to combine them well. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 325º.

On waxed paper, roll dough into a 1/2″-thick square. Freeze 15 minutes. Cut dough into 1/2″ squares and transfer to a large baking sheet. Bake until cookies are golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Oreo Coal Cookie Bites

  • 40 Oreos
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 16 oz. semisweet or melting chocolate
  • 1/3 c. Oreo cookies, crushed or cocoa powder, for dusting

Grind the Oreos into crumbs, using a blender or food processor. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl, add the cream cheese, and mix together. (A fork works well for this.)

Form balls using about one tablespoon of the Oreo mixture, making them misshapen like a lump of coal. Place them on a plate and into the fridge for about 30 minutes, up to 1 hour to become firm. Microwave the melting chocolate or morsels in 10 to 15 second increments until smooth.

With a fork or toothpick, dip each Oreo ball into the melted chocolate, then set onto parchment paper. Sprinkle immediately with crumbs from Oreos. If using cocoa powder, once the balls are chilled and firm, dip your fingers into the cocoa and lightly rub onto Oreo balls to complete the “coal” look. Store balls in the fridge until ready to serve.

Stay safe and sane and enjoy your holiday season. Eat hardy.

Cookies, Here We Come

Well, it’s that time of year when some of us are getting ready for the Christmas cookie exchanges. Now, this post may seem backward, but I’ll be talking about weeks-ahead preparation for baking your dozens of cookies. Next time, I’ll include some recipes for favorite Christmas (and any time of year) cookies.

Today Foodie has some tips on freezing cookie dough for baking in the future and freezing baked cookies so they’re handy any time. You may want to do a little research on which cookies/doughs aren’t good bets for freezing, but here’s some tips for those that freeze well.

What to have on hand

  • Plenty of gallon-sized zipper type freezer bags
  • Wax paper or parchment paper
  • Cookie sheets
  • Containers with covers (for bar-type cookies)

Place baked cookies on a silicone baking sheet or parchment-lined cookie sheet. (They can be placed close together since they’re already baked.) Freeze them for an hour (or until solid), then transfer to a freezer zip-top bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible before you put them in the freezer to prevent freezer burn.

For slice-and-bake cookies, shape the dough into one or two logs, use a layer of plastic wrap first to prevent freezer burn and odor absorption from your freezer. Then put into a zipper seal bag and freeze.

How Long To Freeze Them

With proper storage, most cookies can be kept in the freezer for up to three months. The best way to store cookies depends on the type of cookie you’re baking. For example, chewy bars should be stored in a single layer in a covered airtight container.

Thawing Tips

If you thaw baked cookies in the containers you stored them in while in the freezer, the condensation that forms while they thaw could linger on the cookies. Then they become soggy. Remove them from the freezer bag or airtight container when you defrost them so that condensation won’t form. It’s best to put baked cookies on a paper towel-lined plate to thaw them. Always thaw them at room temperature.

Baking Frozen Cookies

Balls of drop cookie dough can be baked directly from the freezer, while slice-and-bake and cut-out cookie dough needs to thaw out shortly on the counter so that they can be sliced or rolled out. Regardless, the doughs will be colder than they would be if they were baked fresh, so you should plan on adding a minute or two to the suggested baking time to make sure they get cooked through.

Have fun baking all those batches of cookies, sharing them with friends, and, most of all, eating them.

Foodie Friday Celebrates Cookies

Today is National Cookie Day and I’m wondering…why a single day?

keep calm eat cookies

This is the time of year when cookie exchanges are popular. I took part in one several years ago and couldn’t believe the variety of cookies people brought. Chocolate cookies, peanut butter cookies, brownies, cookies that looked like trail mix and a dozen others I can’t even begin to name. Even traditional sugar cookies showed off individual character, reflecting the cook’s expertise. I went home with enough cookies to last…uh…a while.

I was going to post a cookie recipe for the holidays anyway, so for all those cookie monster types out there (like me), here’s this week’s foodie recipe and a bonus from a former post.

Coconut Macaroons
1 1/3 c. coconut
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1/3 c. sugar
2 T. flour
1/8 t. salt
2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
1/2 t. almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Mix together coconut, almonds, sugar, flour and salt. Fold in egg whites and almond extract, mixing well.
Drop from a teaspoon onto lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake 20 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown.
Remove from baking sheets immediately and cool on racks.
Makes about 1 ½ dozen

For chocolate lovers, a simple variation would be to dip the bottoms of the cookies in melted chocolate after cooling and let them sit on racks upside down until the chocolate is firm.