Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cookies for Santa (and some to swap)

Have you been baking up a storm lately? I have. I think I have burned through five or six pounds of butter this month. Sadly, it's not that hard to do! This past weekend I was invited to my first holiday cookies swap. It was so much fun, I just had to share. It was neat sharing some of my favorite recipes and sampling what others brought. The best part: taking home a variety of tasty homemade cookies and treats. My friend Jessica, a bonafide food professional hosted, so I knew it was going to be good! We all had a lovely time sipping wine, eating cookies and other appetizers Jessica had prepared. I took a few pictures and gathered the recipes so that you can enjoy too!

The Recipes
Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies - Ina Garten's recipe, which explains their yumminess!
Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies - Straight from the "butter queen" herself
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies - With a cherry surprise in the middle
Cherry Chocolate Kisses - Another for the cherry lover in your life
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel Filling - I loved the salt/sweet combination with a touch of cardamom!
White Chocolate Peppermint Drops - Peppermint meets white chocolate
Peppermint Fudge - So creamy and decadent!
Banana Bread - Moist and delicious banana bread. Tie a bow on it and call it a gift!

My Contributions
I pondered for weeks over what to bring. I pinned wildly on Pinterest and contemplated it late at night. Turns out I wasn't alone in my cookie obsession! Several of the others at the swap were equally cookie-obsessed. I ended up bringing two old-standbys that I was frantically decorating up until the last minute.

Shortbread Cookies
I added a bit more salt that the recipe called for and topped with melted dark chocolate and Heath bar bits. You could also top with toasted nuts.

Georgia Gingerbread Cookies
I made these cookies I posted last year around this time. I still love this recipe!

Finally, I have to share Kelley Sparwasser's gingerbread cookie recipe with you. Well, technically it's a molasses cookie. They are pictured behind my gingerbread cut-out cookies. Oh my goodness, they were chewy, spicy and perfect! Kelley is also a food person. (She and Jessica have written a cookbook together in case you are looking for any last minute gifts!)

Kelley's recipe is adapted from a long-closed restaurant where she worked 15 years ago. It makes a TON of cookies, but chances are you won't mind. Half it if you want to start with a smaller batch.

Molasses Cookies
Makes approximately 8 dozen cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar, plus additional for coating
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
2 ¼ cups vegetable oil
1 cup molasses

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the flour through the cinnamon and whisk together. Add the beaten eggs, oil and molasses to the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on low until combined (about 45 seconds.) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low until incorporated.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter and roll into balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place on the baking sheet, leaving about 4-inches between each. Do not flatten the balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops crack. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the cookie sheet.

If I don't get back here before Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday! Tomorrow is my birthday and I am not cooking a thing. However, I highly recommend that you get in the kitchen and bake some of these cookies. Santa and your friends and family will thank you! Ho ho ho!

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