‘Tis the season, ready or not! With less than two weeks until Thanksgiving, the holiday buzz has begun.
Why not celebrate the season with an old fashioned, honest-to-goodness cookie exchange?
I’m not talking about racing to your local grocery store and purchasing bakery cookies from the market. If you begin planning now, you have time to bake, freeze and enjoy.
Go ahead and begin baking your holiday cookies now. Your freezer can be your BFF during this hectic, holiday season. With plenty of cookies in the freezer, you have ample time to plan an authentic holiday cookie exchange.
Tips for Cookie Exchange Entertaining Success:
• Invite more than you normally would, as many people are busy and booked during the holiday season. This will ensure a comfortable number of attendees and will make the party a success.
• Utilize social media for an easy, streamlined method for inviting your friends and keeping tabs on RSVP responses.
• Ask guests to bring two to three dozen cookies. This will allow a cookie or two for guests to enjoy and plenty to take home. If you are extra ambitious, ask guests to provide the recipe. You can scan and distribute the recipes by email the day after the party or you can ask guests to bring several copies of the recipes to distribute at the party.
• Go to the local dollar store and buy plastic platters — enough for all of the guests. Line the platters with paper doilies and give a platter to each guest. This will be their platter of treats to take home for the holidays. Have a roll of plastic wrap handy so they can cover their platter for the trip home.
• Plan the party for a Friday night, then plan to serve protein rich appetizers before sampling the cookies. Saturday mornings are also a good time for a cookie exchange. Make a breakfast casserole for guests to enjoy and then sample cookies.
• Have a large table that guests can easily navigate around as they fill their platters. Begin by asking guests to take two cookies of each type. Continue until all cookies are gone.
A Christmas cookie exchange is a tradition in my home and Apricot Glazed Cookies are one of my favorites to share. I cherish the recipe, for a good friend shared it with me. What is your must have holiday cookie?Apricot Glazed Cookies Makes about five dozen cookies 1 cup butter, softened 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 2 cups all purpose flour
Glaze:1 1/4 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup apricot preserves 1 tablespoon butter, softened 1 to 2 tablespoons half and half 1 teaspoon light corn syrup Toasted almond slices
For the cookies, combine 1 cup butter, sugar, brown sugar and almond extract in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour. Beat until well mixed.
Divide mixture into fourths and form four logs, each about 4-1/2 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch slices with sharp knife. Place 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Cool completely.
For the glaze, combine all ingredients, except toasted almond slices, in a small bowl. Beat on low speed until creamy and smooth. Frost cooled cookies. Garnish with toasted almond slices.
Toasting the almonds intensifies their flavor. To toast them, spread the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Roxanne Wyss is one of two cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. Her most recent cookbook is Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining. She develops the recipes for the “Eating for Life” column for The Kansas City Star and is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She blogs at pluggedintocooking.com