Cookie exchanges are pretty much the best thing EVER! I mean, who doesn’t love receiving a big ol’ plate full of all different kinds of amazing cookies, while only actually having to slave over baking one batch? One batch is totally dealable, twelve batches, well, not so much. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, sent the postcard, bought the t-shirt, and done the dance. In the past, I misguidedly decided that baking cookies to give as gifts to neighbors, co-workers, and friends would be a great way to save money during the holiday season. Well, I’m here to tell you that I was WRONG. WRONG with a capital W R O N G. Giving the gift of cookies during the holiday season requires a lot of time, effort, dish washing, stress, and above all else, a lot of money. Cookies do not come cheap y’all, especially good cookies. Butter is pretty much nearing the price of gold lately and I won’t even begin to talk about how crazy expensive all other cookie ingredients are becoming. When deciding to take on holiday baking, you better prepare yourself for the reality that it’s gonna cost you a pretty penny.
In order to still take part in the entire cookie exchange experience, while not having to spend days in the kitchen smacking myself in the head, I joined many other great food bloggers for the Food Blogger Love Cookie Exchange this year. The concept was that after each of us joined, we would receive a list of three people to send a dozen cookies to by a certain date, and then on December 5th, which is today, we would all post our recipes to share with our readers. The bloggers chosen for me to exchange cookies with were That Skinny Chick Can Bake, Pale Yellow, and The Emotional Baker. When signing up for the cookie exchange, we also had the ability to specify whether or not we had food allergies, so that we could be grouped together with other like bloggers. I totally took advantage of this and requested that all of the cookies sent to me be completely nut-free. There was no way that I was going to be able to eat three dozen cookies without B.O.B. Bob’s help and I didn’t want to take the chance of him ending up in the emergency room. B.O.B. Bob with big ol’ swollen gigantic fat lips and barely able to breathe is really not anything anyone needs to see or experience. Trust me.
I’m not even gonna lie, I was a little put out when I realized one of the food bloggers on my list was a vegan. Making cookies without butter was certainly a challenge for me. I mean, really folks, cookies are all about the butter; that’s what makes them so yummy, yummy, yummy. Though, I will have to admit that the vegan Homemade Ginger O’s from The Emotional Baker, were pretty gosh darn good with absolutely no butter required. Who knew? Then there were the Cranberry White Chocolate Ginger Oatmeal Cookies from That Skinny Chick Can Bake, which almost put me and all of my neighbors into a blissful food coma. Holy crap, were they tasty, and the fact that they came with pretty much the cutest holiday dish towel ever certainly didn’t hurt matters. Last, but not least, there were the Butterscotch Pudding Cookies from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, which happened to be one neighbor’s absolute favorite. Pretty much, there wasn’t a bad cookie in the bunch.
This year, why not try starting a cookie exchange of your own? Get together with your co-workers, friends, or even family members and come up with a few simple guidelines. Decide how many cookies each person is responsible for, if there are certain ingredients that should be avoided, a calendar date to meet up and exchange cookies, or a date by which all of the cookies should be mailed. When taking part in a proper cookie exchange, it is always nice to include a recipe so that if folks fall head-over-heels in love with a specific cookie, they later have the recipe to make a batch for themselves. You don’t want everyone calling you up during the holiday season, when you’re all covered in tree sap and glitter, begging you for the recipe. If you decide to make Sugar Plum Fairy Holiday Cookies for your recipe exchange, click HERE to print the recipe. I’ve done all the work for you. Aren’t I amazing? These cookies are also easy to adapt for individuals who are vegan. Simply swap the butter out for any type of margarine. It’s definitely not my idea of the best thing in the world to do, seeing as how I think butter is pretty much the bee’s knees, but the feedback I received from my vegan friends was that the margarine version of this holiday cookie was fantastic. Butter or no butter, this is one holiday cookie that everyone will be happy to receive and even happier to make disappear.
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
- 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- Plum Preserves
- 1 Cup Powdered Sugar, Sifted
- 3 Teaspoons Water
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- Decorative White Sugar Crystals
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.
- On low speed, slowly add the flour 1/2-cup at a time; mix until just incorporated.
- Bring the dough together with your hands into a ball, place it back into the mixing bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and then place them at least an inch apart on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, press an indentation into the center of each ball.
- Spoon the preserves into the indentation of each cookie and then bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
- Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing them to a baking rack to cool completely.
- Whisk together the sifted powdered sugar, water, and vanilla.
- Use the tines of a fork to drizzle the glaze over the cookies.
- Sprinkle each cookie with decorative sugar crystals.
- Allow to set for several hours before packaging in an airtight container for storage.
- Allowing the dough to chill for 30 minutes helps prevent the cookies from spreading during baking.
- The dough will be dry and a little bit hard to work into a ball. Toss the dough back and forth between your hands, slowly working it into a ball. The warmth from your hands will slowly help the dough form into a ball.
- This recipe will yield between 15 and 20 cookies, depending on how much dough you use for each cookie. I suggest making two batches.
- Use your favorite type of jam, jelly, or preserves in this recipe.
- Top each cookie with finely chopped nuts after glazing.
- When giving cookies as a gift, make sure to arrange them in a holiday cookie tin, on a pretty plate like this Snowman & Friends one, or in a festive food-safe box.
- You can also use Wilton Cake Sparkles in this recipe.
*Some affiliate links can be found in this post.
*To take part in the Food Blogger Love Cookie Exchange, each blogger was asked to make a donation to one of the two charities below in order to spread the love this holiday season. Please consider making your own donation to help these two worthy causes this holiday season.
- CLIMATES – Rescue and The Bunny Hutch Boutique is an animal rescue in Virginia that takes in and feeds animals traditional shelters can’t take in, like snakes, turtles, bunnies, ferrets, and lizards. They are home to the biggest bunny in the United States! All those animals need a lot of food. CLICK HERE to sponsor a meal for an animal in need!
- No Kid Hungry is an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger. They believe no child should go to bed hungry. CLICK HERE to sponsor a meal for a child in need!
Don’t forget to check out all of the other scrumptious Food Blogger Love Cookie Exchange Recipes; you can find them by clicking HERE. Also, if you would like more holiday cookie recipe ideas, head on over to Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck’s Amazing Food Recipes from Other Great Food Bloggers Pinterest board.
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