The holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without Christmas cookies. But who has time to bake a billion different batches when they’re busy decorating, shopping, and hosting visiting family members. That’s what’s so great about a cookie exchange. When friends gather together, each baking a different treat to taste and take home, everyone ends up with at least 12 days of cookies!
Here are a few ideas to help make your holiday swap a success.
Step 1: Commit to a Date
Calendars fill up quickly around the holidays, so you’ll want to choose a date and stick to it. Make sure you pick a date that’s not so close to Christmas that it interferes with everyone’s busy schedules, but not so far away that your baked goods get too stale to give as gifts (or lay out for Santa on Christmas Eve).
Step 2: Set Realistic Goals
Don’t go overboard with your guest list. It’s standard to ask everyone to bake a dozen cookies per person in attendance. Fill your house with too many participants for your cookie exchange, and that adds up to a whole lot of cookies! The idea is to relieve everyone’s holiday-related stress, not add to it.
Step 3: Choose the Ultimate Holiday Cookie Recipe
Ask everyone to tell you the name of their cookie in advance … it will allow you to make cards for the display table, and ensure that there are no duplicates on the menu.
Also, print out copies of everyone’s recipe to share. If the guests love your holiday cookie recipe, they can make more at home. And knowing the ingredients will allow them to keep an eye out for allergens.
Step 4: Cookie Swap Competition Challenge
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition. After sampling everyone’s cookies, hold a vote on your favorite, with a prize for the winning recipe.
Step 5: Pretty Up the Holiday Cookie Exchange Party
Set out pretty boxes and fun packaging as part of your cookie exchange so guests can give them out as gifts.
Although I love to eat cookies, yes Dietitians eat cookies too, I am not a fan of baking them. I know it doesn’t apply to everyone, but you know what they say, you are either a cook or a baker! Well, I certainly much prefer cooking. With that being said, I enlisted the help of my friend and co-worker, Alexis Foreman. Alexis is the head of Employee Relations at Redner’s and also runs a full house at home! With 3 children, a husband and a house full of pets (including a Bearded Dragon!), things can get hectic, but they always find time to bake during the holidays.
So I was lucky enough to have her share this recipe with me! It only took us a few minutes to measure out the ingredients and get set up.
To get started, we simply just mix butter, shortening, confectioner’s sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract together in a big bowl. Then blend flour and sugar into the mix.
Once the dough is ready, split into two, and add the red food coloring to one. Now is about the time I started to get interested. You take a little bit from each bowl, roll and twist into the most perfect candy cane! Mine were not quite as perfect as Alexis’ but I will admit I enjoyed laughing and telling stories while we laid out all of the cookies on an ungreased pan.
We then put the cookies in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. After we removed them, we added one more special touch. We put 4 candy canes in the food processor (about 1/2 cup crushed) and 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and sprinkled this on the warm cookies. It gave the perfect holiday touch! Whether you make these candy canes big or small, crooked or perfect, your friends and family will love them and you will enjoy making them.
Peppermint Candy Cane Twist Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp red food color
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, confectioner’s sugar, egg, and flavorings. Blend in flour and salt. Divide dough in half; blend food color into one half.
Shape 1 tsp. dough from each half into 4 inch rope. For smooth, even ropes, roll them back and forth on lightly floured board. Place ropes side by side; press together lightly and twist. Complete cookies one at a time. Place on ungreased baking sheet; curve top of cookie down to form a candy cane.
Bake about 10 minutes or until set and very light brown. Mix 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Immediately sprinkle cookies with candy mixture, remove from baking sheet.
Happy Holidays to you and your family from all of us at Redner’s Markets!