she cooks, he eats: First Cookie Swap Party

she cooks, he eats first cookie swap party

UPDATE: Voting ends Sunday, January 1, 2012.  

First and foremost, I want to give a great BIG hug and thank you to Claudia, Erin, Trish, Latoya, Suzanne and Leah for joining in on my very first cookie swap party!!! It wouldn’t of been possible without you beautiful girls!! THANK YOU!

I’m so happy that I was able to put together this cookie swap party. It was so wonderful learning and being able to read the stories behind the cookies. I hope you guys enjoy reading this post as much as I enjoyed doing this cookie swap party! And be sure to keep scrolling down because there’s a poll at the end that needs your votes!

Kat’s Shortbread Cookies:

These are the cookies that I chose to bake for my cookie swap party! Growing up, my family never had any holiday traditions since my mom didn’t really know how to bake (but she loves hoarding baking equipment!) and no one in my family had an undying love for sweets like I did. My more recent holiday traditions (hello Festivus tree!), are made with my boyfriend. My boyfriend is pretty unadventurous when it comes to trying new cookies, he’s a sugar and chocolate chip kinda guy, so when he mentioned that he also liked shortbread cookies, I had to make!

Here’s what my boyfriend had to say about these shortbread cookies, “shortbread cookies satisfy any sweets craving that one may have. The cookies are soft, cakey, and icing topped…a definite guilty pleasure like devil’s food cake. You know it’s bad, but you got to have it.” Well said because these cookies are just butter and sugar! 

classic shortbread, frosted shortbread, and blackberry thumbprint shortbread cookies

BAKER’S NOTE: When making the dough, you’ll realize that it’s very fine and crumbly. Don’t worry, just use your hands to help form the dough completely. The warmth from your hands melts the butter, making the dough easier to form. This is a basic shortbread recipe, so feel free to add whatever kind of jam and frosting you like! Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2+ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • blackberry preserves, vanilla frosting, sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric hand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until just combined. Add in the the vanilla extract.
  3. Gradually add the flour a little bit at a time. Using the electric hand mixer, mix until the dough starts to form. It will look very crumbly so use hands to combine the dough.
  4. For jam thumbprint cookies, roll the dough into a ball and push your thumb into the center. Fill a spoonful of jam into the center.
  5. For classic shortbread cookies, roll the dough into a ball and flatten with the bottom of a glass cup.
  6. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes and the edges and bottom are slightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.
  7. For frosted shortbread cookies, let the cookies cool completely. Then frost with the frosting using a butter knife, and top with sprinkles!

Claudia’s Molasses & Spice Cookies (for recipe and step-to-step guide, check it out on her blog here):

Claudia is one of my favorite makeup and beauty gurus on the web! If you haven’t already, check out her blog iliketotalkalot. I was extremely thrilled when she told me she was going to partake in my first cookie swap party!

Here’s what Claudia has to say about her delicious chewy cookies, “I decided on a sugar cookie with frosting and shape them all like makeup until I realized….whoops. This is for the holidays, so think Santa, think snow, ornaments…whatever.  I finally decided on the easiest and prettiest ones I found, Molasses and Spice Cookies.  You may have seen them called molasses cookies, ginger cookies–I’m not 100% sure this is the same as gingerbread but they are goooOOOOD!” Thank you Claudia! ps. I’m looking forward to those fun makeup-shaped cookies next time! :)

molasses & chewy cookies

BAKER’S NOTE: The cookies need to be chilled for at least 3 hours or overnight. Mixing these cookies can be a bit tricky, so use hands to knead the dough until there are no more dry spots. Keeping them in an airtight container will keep them chewy and crispy for up to 3 days or until they’ve all disappeared! Serving size: approximately 30 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • red and green colored sugar

Directions:

  1. Melt the shortening in a pan on the stove, and cool.
  2. Add sugar, egg, and molasses, beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir dry ingredients together and add to the pan. Mix well and chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Form the dough into walnut-sized balls and then roll them in colored sugar.
  5. Place on a greased cookie sheet about two inches apart.
  6. Bake at 375° F (190°C) for about 8-10 minutes.
  7. Store in an airtight container to keep from getting overly crisp.

Erin’s Whole Wheat Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies:

What I love about these cookies is that you can actually see specks of red and green, making them very cute and festive but not too over the top! 

Here’s what Erin has to say about her homemade holiday cookies, “What I really love about these cookies is their versatility! You can make these with regular chocolate chips or candies like M&M’s…my husband’s favorite are white chocolate! I like to use white chocolate mint for Christmas time for something extra special! And hey, they’re whole wheat…guilt free and delicious!” I couldn’t agree more with Erin! 

whole wheat chocolate mint christmas cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • one bag (2 cups) of mint chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cream together the sugars, butter, egg, vanilla, and almond extract. If you don’t have any almond extract, double the vanilla but they are way better with that touch of almond!
  3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 8-12 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

Trish’s Chocolate Coconut Neapolitans:

Trish is such a sweetheart and a dear friend. Our friendship actually began right here on she cooks, he eats! She’s been incredible and amazingly supportive since the beginning. I am so thankful for her friendship, kind words of wisdom, and support that keeps me working hard on my blog! :)

What I love about Trish’s cookies is that there’s an explosion of flavors all in one tiny cookie! There’s chocolate, coconut, almond flavor, and did I mention that it’s coated in chocolate!!

chocolate coconut neapolitans

BAKER’S NOTE: Freeze the dough for 4 hours prior to ensure evenly cut slices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 drops of red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut, finely chopped
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons chocolate syrup

Ingredients for toppings:

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Directions:

  1. Line a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pan with parchment or waxed paper and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  3. Divide the dough into thirds.
  4. Add extract and food coloring to one portion; spread evenly into prepared pan.
  5. Add coconut to second portion, spread evenly over first layer.
  6. Add chocolate syrup to third portion; spread over second layer.
  7. Cover with foil and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
  8. Unwrap loaf and cut in half LENGTHWISE.
  9. Then cut each portion WIDTHWISE into 1/4″ slices.
  10. Place two inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
  11. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and canola oil. Stir until blended and smooth. Dip one end of each cookie into chocolate. Place on wire racks until set (or place in freezer to set quickly).

Trish’s Peppermint Pinwheeels:

This is Trish’s second batch of cookies for the cookie swap party!

Here’s Trish’s beautiful story behind her cookies, “I plan on mailing [the cookies] to my papa for Christmas. He is 93 and lives in another state and I don’t get home to see him often enough. He loves cookies and ice cream. And at 93, you can eat what the H E double toothpicks you want!”

peppermint pinwheeels

BAKER’S NOTE: Freeze the cookie dough overnight or until the dough is firm enough.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  2. Divide dough in half, add peppermint extract and red food coloring to one portion.
  3. On a work surface, roll out EACH portion of dough separately  between waxed paper into a 14″ x 8″ rectangular pan or whatever size close to that you can get.
  4. Remove wax paper. Place red rectangle over plain rectangle. Roll up tightly jelly roll style, starting with the long side. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate overnight or until firm. (Sometimes dough will get sticky while you are trying to get it into the rectangular size, so you may have to put it in the freezer and take and roll again.) Just make sure once you have placed the red dough over the plain dough that you let it warm up before you try to roll it like a jelly roll, or it will crack.
  5. After it is chilled and firm, unwrap and cut into 1/4″ (thin) slices. Place two inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for about 12 minutes (checking on them every once in awhile). Cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to wire racks to cool.

Latoya’s Chewy Molasses Cookies:

Another beauty haven you can regularly find me on is Latoya’s Beauty Obsessed, I guess you can also say that I’m obsessed with it hehe! Check out her blog for a huge collection of reviews and swatches of products ranging from drug-store, department store, to high-end.

Latoya originally planned to make sugar cookies because they are her boyfriend’s favorite (hmm I can think of another certain boyfriend whose favorite cookies are sugar cookies :), but I guess something happened along the way and it didn’t pan out so she opted to make molasses cookies. Here’s what Latoya has to say about her cookies, “I love the smell of gingerbread-type cookies during the holidays!!  If we were making anything and not just cookies, I would have made gingerbread – I love cinnamon and molasses together!  Yum.  I like the way these cookies crackle, the way they look makes me think of old-timey recipes.”

chewy molasses cookies

BAKER’S NOTE: She prefers her cookies on the less cooked side (I don’t blame her, I’m also guilty of this crime too!), so be sure to bake them until set but not browned. Serving size: approximately 2 dozen.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup unsulfured molasses

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the brown sugar and butter together. Add the egg and molasses, and beat until light colored and creamy. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough (or use a 1 3/4-inch scoop) three inches apart on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake in the center of the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until set but not browned.
  6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container. Well-wrapped cookies may be frozen.

Leah’s Festive Peppermint Brownies:

Leah is a freelance writer, blogger and full-time mother who enjoys cooking, reading, photography, her dogs, and drinking coffee (hehe)!. She just happens to be one of the sweetest ladies around! Check out her blog on her daily musings, recipes (which I love!), and family life on Leah’s Thoughts.

The story behind these adorable peppermint brownies date back to Leah’s childhood, so I’ll just let Leah tell you her story, “When I was a little kid, there was a small family-owned bakery in our neighborhood. It was a rare treat to go to the bakery on a Friday afternoon and pick out a cookie, brownie, or sometimes, my dad would get a cake. I usually always chose the same thing — the mint brownie. It was a layer of brownie, layer of green mint frosting and more chocolate on top. Sadly the little bakery went out of business years later and I never had that brownie again. … Until I was part of a book group about ten years ago. One of the members made peppermint brownies just like the bakery! I was instantly taken back to my childhood with every bite of the brownie. I begged her for the recipe and I’ve been making these ever since. “

festive peppermint brownies

Bottom Layer:

  • 1 can (16 oz.) Hershey’s syrup
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mix all ingredients together until well combined and then spread evenly onto the pan.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Middle Layer:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • peppermint extract
  • green food coloring

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and spread evenly over the cooled bottom layer. let it harden.

Top Layer:

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. Melt chocolate chips and butter together on the stove.
  2. Spread over the hardened middle layer.
  3. Let top layer cool. Slice and eat!

Suzanne’s Triple Ginger Cookies:

Suzzane is the blogger behind Entirely Adequate. If you want to check out her daily musings and thoughts, check out her blog for some entertaining reads!

Here’s what Suzzane has to say about her holiday gingery cookies, “My favorite cookies EVER are Trader Joe’s Gingeroos, which I found in Vegas. I was disappointed when the Nashville TJ folks told me they wouldn’t be stocked there. These cookies are pretty close to Gingeroos taste-wise, even though they’re much smaller.”

triple ginger cookies

BAKER’S NOTE: This recipe is from 101 Cookbooks. Serving size: approximately 4 dozen.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2+ cup large-grain sugar (ie. turbinado)
  • 2 cups spelt flour OR whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon star anise, finely ground
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2/3 cup fine grain natural cane sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup crystallized ginger, then finely minced
  • 2 lemons, zest only

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°- racks in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Line a couple baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat mat, place the large-grain sugar in a small bowl, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, star anise, ground ginger, and salt.
  3. Heat the butter in a skillet until it is just barely melted. Stir in the molasses, natural cane sugar, and fresh ginger. The mixture should be warm, but not hot at this point, if it is hot to touch let it cool a bit. Whisk in the egg. Now pour this over the flour mixture, add the crystallized ginger (make sure it isn’t too clumpy), and lemon zest. Stir until just combined.
  4. I like these cookies tiny, barely bite-sized, so I scoop out the dough in exact, level tablespoons. I then tear those pieces of dough in two before rolling each 1/2 tablespoon of dough into a ball shape. From there, grab a small handful of the big sugar you set aside earlier and roll each ball between your palms to heavily coat the outside of each dough ball. Place dough a few inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cookies puff up, darken a bit, get fragrant and crack.

Suzzane’s Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies:

This is Suzzane’s second choice of cookie that she gave me for the cookie swap party! They are just so cute and festive!

Here’s what Suzzane has to say about these glimmery sandwich cookies, “glittering lemon sandwich cookies are also going to become a regular Christmas cookie at my house. They’re a lot of trouble, but they’re absolutely scrumptious and beautiful.”

glittering sandwich cookies

BAKER’S NOTE: This recipe is from Serious Eats. Serving size is approximately 4 dozen sandwich cookies.

Ingredients for the cookies:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • white and colored sanding sugars

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

  1. For the cookies: preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch and salt.
  3. Beat together butter and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in zest and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture just until a soft dough forms.
  4. Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and drop into sugar, turning to coat. Reshape if necessary and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 3/4 inch apart, until baking sheet is filed.
  5. Bake until tops are slightly cracked but still pale (bottoms will be pale golden), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Form and bake more cookies on second baking sheet.
  7. For the filing: beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electic mixer at medium speed until combined well. Transfer to a sealable bag and snip off a corner.
  8. Turn over half of cookies and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling on flat side of each. Sandwich wit remaining cookies, pressing gently.

And that’s a wrap folks!! I know I said that one lucky guest from my cookie swap party will be receiving a mystery gift from me, but it really saddens me that I can’t give everyone a gift for participating because all the ladies did such a wonderful job! So here’s where I need you guys!! I know that it would be impossible and extremely hard for me to pick the winning cookie, so I’m letting you guys choose for me! The cookie with the most votes will win the mystery gift!

Voting ends Sunday, January 1, 2012. Why the long voting period you ask? Well, I want everyone to have a good chunk of time to try baking these cookies and tasting them! And if you do get to try making these cookies, please do share and leave a comment below. Happy baking!!

xoxo, kat

26 thoughts on “she cooks, he eats: First Cookie Swap Party

  1. What a beautiful blog and a great idea! I love the way Kat put a baker’s note at the beginning of the recipe! The photo at the beginning of the blog is wonderful showing all the cookies together. … Now how to choose………make them all? Eat them all? YES & YES! Seriously, I think it’s great how everyone had such different cookies; i don’t know how to choose. I have to say the glittering lemon sandwich cookies look pretty darn good though and I like Kat’s shortbread even though it’s not in the voting. It looks easy to make while still yummy.

  2. those treats all look delicious! those whole wheat mint cookies stand out to me the most though…really want one :)

  3. I guess I forgot to mention that the mint chips I bought had red and green sprinkles on them! I’m going to have to try those pinwheel cookies!

  4. OMG Kat, thank you so much for putting this together, it was so much fun to do! And inspired me to do that virtual makeover post as soon as I gather up some of the blogger gals. Everyones pictures made me hungry!!! Looking forward to trying out those mint brownies,,,,and p.s those pinwheels are GORGEOUS!

  5. Isn’t it funny how cookies evoke all these old memories in people- the molasses cookies always remind me of my grandma cuz she used to make THE BEST molasses cookies “just for me” cuz they were my favorite and I have NEVER been able to make them right. Also, the thumbprint cookies (we make them with dates and raisins) were my brother’s fav so she always made those “for him”. :)

  6. My friends and I just did a cookie swap this past weekend — it was a great chance to get together at night, like adults, without the kids (we got all the cookies to ourselves!). I’m glad you had such a fun event too — and thank you for all the delicious looking recipes! You all went all out to make a wonderful cookie buffet. :) Hey, they should make a restaurant like that. All the cookies you can eat.

  7. This was such a fun idea Kat, I’m so glad that you suggested it! It’s a great way to feel festive at the holidays, get in some baking (which I promptly used in gifts so YAY for a two-in-one!), and also learn some new recipes! Thanks for doing this, it looks great and I was happy to participate!

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