The Great Cookie Exchange

Who doesn’t like Christmas cookies? (If you don’t, then you’re definitely not going to like this post.) One of my favourite things to do around this time of year is to give out baked goodies to everyone I know. Years and years ago I even used to do annual cookie exchanges with my friends.

You’ve done one of those before, right? Each party guest is assigned the task of bringing enough cookies for each party guest to take home (half to one dozen is a good amount) so everyone ends up with a variety of treats to serve at Christmas time. (That is, if they can last until then.)

Here’s some of what I learned from my past experiences:

  • Do try and circulate a list to get a sense of what everyone is bringing so you don’t get any repeats.
  • Don’t micromanage what every single person is going to make. The fun of it is having something unique from everyone, based on their background, their family traditions and their own personal preferences.
  • Do make sure you double-check for any dietary restrictions or allergies.
  • But if you do end up making a recipe someone can’t eat, don’t forget to bring them an alternative instead. (Like the gluten-free biscotti I made for my friend Andi here.)
  • Do pre-package your cookies for each guest to make life easier for you, your guests, and to protect against any contamination.
  • Don’t overdo it. No one likes a show-off at a cookie exchange (unless you’re showing off how many cookies you can eat).
  • Do make sure to bring along a copy of the recipe just in case any one wants to try it out for themselves. (The only exception is if it’s a super-top secret family recipe.)
  • Don’t take it personally if someone declines your cookies! It’s probably got more to do with their personal tastes than it does your baking.

As for baking inspiration? Well around this blog, we’ve got plenty. In my last post I talked about all the Christmas cookies that I usually make every year, but the recipes found here and here are also great to make as take-alongs. I even participated in an online cookie exchange once. I’ve also been amassing a list of recipes that I’d like to try here on Pinterest.

What are you making for Christmas this year? Are you and your friends holding a cookie exchange? Let us know all the details by commenting below or emailing me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com

And hey, I realize I am not the only baking blogger on the blog. If you’ve got some great recipes you’re sharing on your blog for Christmas (or any other holiday) leave a comment below with the name of your blog and the link to your favourite recipe.

Can’t wait to see what you guys have been baking!

Holiday celebrations can be fun, but only if you can ensure that things go smoothly. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to social gatherings, there are still plenty of ways to get your holiday game on. Click here to read more of them, or click here or here to read about some of the other best practices I’ve been trying to put into my place in my life.

Do you have any tips on how to survive the holidays? Save us by commenting below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com

Baking with B: Chocolate Spice Cookies

Do you ever get tired of making the same thing, over and over again? (I used to feel that way about birthday cakes.) I was searching for something to serve during a recent family visit and none of my old standards were really grabbing me. Trying something new didn’t really appeal to me either- I didn’t have the time or energy for experimenting.

I was beginning to feel discouraged until I thought- hey, why reinvent the wheel? You know a lot of great classic recipes, B. Why not spice one up so you can have the best of both worlds?

I took my own advice. Literally. I whipped together the ingredients for my favorite butter cookie recipe (also featured here) and turned things up a notch. I’m pretty pleased with the results, too- these Chocolate Spice Cookies melt in your mouth just like a butter cookie, but taste like a gingersnap, with an extra splash of chocolate to keep things sweet.

Chocolate Spice Cookies (makes 28)

3/4 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 c. chocolate chips, melted

Cream together butter and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift together spices and flour and mix with wet ingredients, adding one spoonful at a time until ingredients are fully combined. Divide the dough and shape into two flat discs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove dough from refrigerator and unwrap. Use your hands to shape dough into desired shape, before placing on a parchment-lined cookie sheet approximately one inch apart. Press down each cookie with a fork before baking 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cookie rack until fully cooled.

Melt chocolate in a double-broiler or microwave until smooth. Dip each cookie halfway into the chocolate before placing on waxed paper. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.

B’s Tip: Just because I used chocolate chips doesn’t mean you can’t use your favorite baking chocolate or chocolate bar to make the melted chocolate! You may want to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies instead, or skip that step altogether and throw your chocolate chips into the dough before baking.

The best thing about making over a classic recipe like this is that the variations don’t have to stop there- you can change up the chocolate, switch out the spices, or add nuts or your favorite dried fruit for even more flavor. Your cookies don’t even have to be the same shape- I tried molding mine into logs before squashing with a giant serving fork, instead of the usual circular cookies I make. See? Spicing up your old routine can be addictive. I highly suggest you try it too. You never know what you might come up with!

Happy baking!

B

Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Baking with B: 7 Days of Christmas Treats: Butterscotch Confetti

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This recipe is probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made on my blog, and definitely one of the prettiest. I’m not always a fan of butterscotch chips- sometimes I find them just way too sweet- but when you throw in salty peanut butter and fluffy marshmallows the result ends up sleek and smooth, and melts in your mouth. The only challenging part of this recipe is going to be preventing yourself from eating all of these babies before the holidays arrive.

Butterscotch Confetti (makes 36)

1/4 c. butter or margarine

1/2 c. peanut butter

1 c. butterscotch chips

8 oz. small colored marshmallows

Melt butter and peanut butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in chips until melted. Cool until you can hold your hand on bottom of pot. To speed process, stir while holding pan in cold water until cool enough. Add marshmallows and stir until all are coated. If you like, add 1/2 c. chopped walnuts and/or 1/2 c. medium coconut to mix things up and add a little bit of bite. Pack down in a 9×9-inch pan that has been lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for up to two weeks in an airtight container.

B’s Tip: The original recipe calls for a 9×9-pan but you may want to experiment with different sizes and shapes of pans to create a shape that works best for you. Honestly? I would have preferred a thicker square and may try using an 8×8-inch pan next time.

Happy baking!

B

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Last year I counted down to Christmas by baking seven different types of Christmas cookies as per my favorite Swedish holiday tradition. This year I’m making it a thing, and sharing seven more delicious recipes with you. This is the last post in this year’s series, but for more inspiration, you can check out more of my baking here. For even more recipe inspiration check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.