The first cookie exchange party I attended was when my son (now 16) was in Kindergarten. This group of ladies took their cookies seriously! If delicious cookies presented Martha-style was not enough, the hostess decked out her castle-like house in over the top holiday decor creating a winter wonderland so beautiful it would make Ebeneezer Scrooge melt. Everyone brought a designated amount of cookies, allowing each guest to take home a equal amounts of everyone's contribution. The math involved must have been mind boggling! The best part of course, was coming home with a platter of the most divine holiday cookies. 

Moving from Seattle means I sadly no longer get to attend this event (actually no one does, the hostess moved to Florida…), but I got to thinking about it the other day and decided to ask a couple of my best baker girlfriends to contribute their favorite cookies to a virtual cookie party!

The first cookie on the table is from my friend Teri.  She is an extraordinary baker and I beg her constantly to grace the world with her talents and open a bakery!

Sugar Cookies topped with Frosting and Crushed Peppermint

Teri's sugar cookies
If you are interested in the recipe, please email me and I will get it from Teri!

The table from a cookie party that Teri attended:

Teri's cookie table

Next up is a cookie from my friend Vanessa who lives in Seattle and works for AllRecipes.com.  If you are not familiar with this website – you will LOVE it.  One of my favorite things about it is that readers can share their photos of the recipes they've tried.  

Raspberry and Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

Raspberry almond shortbread cookies
I love anything with almond flavor, so I can't wait to try these! For the recipe and the page with the readers photos of their version of the above cookie, click here

I also wanted to share a program AllRecipes has organized called Cookies Across America:

'Join Allrecipes this December to “bake a difference.”Cookie lovers unite! Whether it’s baking and sharing cookies with the needy or donating cookie ingredients to a food bank, you can make a difference in your community this Christmas.

On December 10, 2011, join Allrecipes, Taste of Home magazine, and Nestlé®, as we spread a little Christmas cookie cheer across America. Here are a few ways to get involved.

Host a Cookie Exchange

If you love baking cookies and gathering with friends and family, this is the event for you. Take the pledge and join us, December 10, 2011, or set your own date during December, and have everyone bring a few dozen of their favorite holiday cookies. Make it a decorating party! Add icing and festive touches. 

Then wrap up your cookies for donation and give them to a local food pantry, emergency shelter, senior center, lunch program, or other community agency. Be sure to check first they accept food donations, and ask when they would like delivery.

 

Organize a Food Drive

Host a food drive that focuses on baking ingredients, then donate items to your local food bank. Open up the food drive to friends, family, and coworkers, along with school, church, and other groups.

Ingredients Most in Need:

 

Flour

 

Peanut Butter

Shortening

White Sugar

Brown Sugar

Powdered Sugar

Vanilla

Baking Soda

Baking Powder

 

Where to Donate?

 

Food pantries, family shelters, senior centers

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The Ronald McDonald House

 My contribution is a simple one, but sooo good.  

 


Classic Shortbread
IMG_3958
IMG_3960
FarmHouseUrban photos
Here's the recipe:
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 t. coarse salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted, room temp butter
3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1. Sift flour + salt into a bowl. Put butter into electric mixer w/ the paddle attachment/ Mix on med-high speed until fluffy (about 3-5 mins) scrapping the bowl occasionally. Gradually add sugar, beat until pale and fluffy (about 2 mins). Add flour mixture all at once; mix until just combined.
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
3. Using plastic wrap, press dough into a buttered 10-inch fluted tart pan w/ a removeable bottom. With plastic wrap on dough, refrigerate 20 mins. Remove plastic wrap. Cut a round from center using a 2 1/4" cookie cutter; discard. Put cutter back in center. Cut dough into 8 wedges (I did 16) w/ a paring knife. Using a wooden skewer; prick all over at 1/4 inch intervals.
4. Bake until golden brown and firm in center; about 1 hour. Transfer to wire rack. Recut shortbread into wedges; let cool completely in pan. 

This recipe is from my all-time favorite cookie cookbook – 'Martha Stewart's Cookies'.
Martha stewarts cookies bookI love this book for two reasons:
1.  In the table of contents there is a photo of every single cookie in the book.
2. They are organized in chapters based on cookie texture; ie, crumbly and sandy (shortbread above), rich and dense, and crisp and crunchy, just to name a few.  

I hope you enjoy the cookies, and if you care to share in the recipe swap, email me a photo and recipe of your creation and I'll post it.

Thank you Teri and Vanessa! xo

Have a great Monday everyone!

 

 


 

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