Recipes worthy of your next cookie swap

Host a cookie exchange with your friends and family — ask each person to bring the same number of cookies and divide evenly among the participants.
Host a cookie exchange with your friends and family — ask each person to bring the same number of cookies and divide evenly among the participants.
GILLIAN JONES - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
Posted

PHOTOS | Holiday Cookie Swap

Every year, staff members in the newsroom gather around a table loaded with cookies to take home. Cookies, recipes and stories are exchanged and the best cookies often don't even make it home for family to enjoy. Here are a few of the cookies shared this year, along with helpful notes and tips for each recipe. Happy holidays!

KISSES Coconut Macaroon Blossoms

Courtesy of Margaret Button

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter or margarine , softened

1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese , softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons almond extract

2 teaspoons orange juice

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 cups MOUNDS Sweetened Coconut Flakes , divided (Note: one large bag is plenty)

48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates (Note: One bag has enough)

Directions

Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add egg yolk, almond extract and orange juice; beat well. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in 3 cups coconut.

Cover; refrigerate 1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Heat oven to 350 F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in remaining 2 cups coconut. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; immediately press chocolate into center of each cookie. Cool 1 minute; carefully remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.

Peanut Butter Sandies

Courtesy of Lindsey Hollenbaugh

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, preferably cultured, softened at room temperature

cup granulated sugar

cup (packed light brown sugar

1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups unsweetened peanut butter, creamy or chunky (You can really use any type of peanut butter you want)

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

Flaky sea salt and coarse sugar for sprinkling (or use kosher salt and granulated sugar)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick liners.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and eggs, and mix. Add the flour and salt and mix just until well combined, with no white flour showing.

Using a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons capacity), scoop dough onto prepared pans. The tops will be rounded but craggy. The cookies will not spread much or change shape when they bake, so they can be placed quite close together, but leave room for air circulation so they can brown.

In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 tablespoon salt. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with sugar-salt mixture, getting it into the crags and crannies. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are set and golden-brown. Note: These cookies can burn easily, so avoid dark cookie trays and watch for burning.

Carefully lift or slide off baking sheets and cool on racks. Store in layers separated by parchment paper, in airtight containers.

Applesauce Spice Cookies

Courtesy of Jennifer Huberdeau

Ingredients:

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist spice cake mix

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup white chocolate chips

Dash of salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, beat Cookie ingredients with whisk until combined. Using 2-tablespoon scoop, drop mixture 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake about 10 minutes or until edges start to brown, tops are dry and cookies spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting.

In 1-quart saucepan or 6-inch skillet, brown the butter by melting over medium heat until it begins to foam, then stirring constantly until solid bits in butter turn dark brown and smell fragrant like toffee. Remove from heat; pour into heatproof dish to cool.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and cooled butter with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat to combine. Generously frost cooled cookies with frosting.

Rudolf Cookie Sticks

Courtesy of Becky Drees

To make the sugar dough:

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and blend well. Add extracts and blend. Mix flour and salt and gradually add. Cover dough with plastic wrap (I usually put mine in a gallon size Ziploc bag) and chill dough for about 2 hours. Don't skip this. You must chill the dough. Working with about 1/3 of the batch at a time, briefly knead the chilled dough and roll about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes. Bake cookies on parchment paper-lined baking trays at 375 for 12-14 minutes. Thicker cookies may need up to 20 minutes. Just watch for edges that are nicely golden.

Assemble the cookies:

You will need:

Cookie dough (recipe above)

Royal icing

Dough scraper or knife

Food coloring (brown and red)

Disposable decorating bags

Couplers

Rubber bands

Size 3 and 4 decorating tips

Candy eyes

Chocolate and/or peanut butter candy melts

Directions:

Step one: make cookie sticks

Prepare the cookie dough according to the recipe, chill for a couple hours, roll out 1/4-inch thick and use the dough scraper or knife to cut out sticks. Make sticks about 4 1/2 inches long by 3/4 inch wide. Place the sticks on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake according to the recipe. Let cool completely.

Step two: prepare royal icing

Prepare royal icing according to the recipe. Divide the icing and tint colors. Use light brown and red (I used red hot candies for the noses instead). Prepare decorating bags with couplers and tips, fill with icing and close tightly with rubber bands.

Step three: decorate cookies

To decorate, fit the brown icing with a size 3 tip. Pipe a blob of brown on the bottom of the stick and press a candy melt on top. Pipe the antlers up the stick however you like. Pipe two tiny dabs of icing on the candy melt and adhere the eyes. Fit the red icing with a size 4 tip and pipe a big dot for a nose. Let the icing dry well, preferably overnight, before handling and packaging.


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