Food: Cookie exchange party is a holiday tradition | PostIndependent.com

Food: Cookie exchange party is a holiday tradition

Angela Shelf Medearis and Gina Harlow
THE KITCHEN DIVA

CANDY COOKIES

This the perfect marriage between a peanut butter cookie and a delicious peanut and caramel candy bar!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

36 bite-size chocolate-covered caramel-peanut nougat bars (like Snickers Minis)

DIRECTIONS:

Beat the butter, sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until blended.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Shape about two tablespoons of the dough around each mini candy bar, using lightly floured hands, and roll into balls. Place three inches apart on ungreased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 350 F for 13 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Makes 3 dozen.

The simplest way to infuse your house with the smells of Christmas is to bake cookies. Baking is a wonderful part of the holidays, and hosting family and friends for a cookie baking/exchange party is a great way to start or continue a traditional holiday activity.

A cookie exchange party also is an inexpensive way to entertain because the cookies provided by your guests are the centerpiece of the party, and everyone leaves with a variety of cookies … and some new recipes! Cookie exchanges can be a lunch-hour activity at work, or an afternoon or evening party.

You also can host a cookie bake and exchange party. Since everyone is so busy, buying good quality cookie mixes and having the guests stir them up, bake and decorate them can become a party activity.

Here are a few tips for hosting a cookie party exchange, along with a great recipe:

Invite eight to 12 people for the best variety of cookies and conversation. Traditionally, everyone attending brings a dozen of one kind of cookie or squares or candies for each of the other people in attendance, plus one dozen for themselves and an extra dozen for the “sample plate.” Since this would require a huge amount of baking, I suggest that each person bring three dozen cookies — two dozen to exchange and a dozen for sample plate. Although each guest may not get one of each cookie to take home, this ensures that your guests won’t feel pressured to turn their kitchens into a bakery. Suggest that they wrap each dozen they are bringing separately.

Send invitations by email or regular post a few weeks ahead. Specify a start and end time for your party. Send email reminders a week ahead of time. Remind guests to bring a large container so that they can take their cookie assortment home.

Avoid duplication of cookies/recipes by asking guests to RSVP and tell you about the cookies they will bring. You might want to suggest selecting a recipe that has a special family meaning or one that is traditional to their background. This is a great way to learn about the traditions and recipes of other cultures and ethnic groups.

Ask each guest to bring a copy of their recipe to pass around with a little information about the origin or memory associated with the cookie. Having a list of the ingredients also ensures that people with food allergies can protect their health.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is http://www.divapro.com. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at http://www.peachesandprosciutto.com. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.


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