Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

This year was my first participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I learned some lessons, and made and ate some delicious cookies! One of the lessons I think I learned was that I was only supposed to make one type of cookie…? Oops. “Overachieving in cookie production is a bad thing…” said no one, ever. Another lesson, about shipping and packaging, at the bottom.*cookie-swap-2013

My favorite part was the excitement of receiving a package in the mail… all 3 types of cookies I received were so different, and from people of different interests and backgrounds, which was way cool. I found it even kismetic (I just made up a word) how some of us were connected in little ways ways whether through travel, common interest (besides food, of course!), or background. A couple other great things were the awesome silicone spatulas I was almost too giddy about receiving from OXO, a partner of the GFBCS, and the almost $14,000 this year’s event raised for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer!

I received the moistest, softest Apple Jack Cookies from Karen at 2 Teaspoons, perfectly spiced and beautifully decorated Gingerbread Men from Nita at thebRUNcher, and finally, deliciously unique Taro Root White Chocolate Chip Cookies from Kristin at Bake Something.

My cookie recipients were Veronique at Food and Wine Chickie,  Natalie at In Natalie’s Shoes, and Dixya at Food, Pleasure, and Health. I would also like to shout out to my dear friends Hannah and Nora of Cats and Commas, who introduced me to the swap!

Here are the 3 recipes for the 3 cookies I sent this year!

#1: White Chocolate Almond Cookies with Cranberries (aka “Purple Cookies”)

IMG_3716I made these for friends once at a “thank you” party, and more recently for my office once during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month to raise awareness for the disease and the upcoming Memory Walk, and decided to dye them purple so that people would ask questions. And, it worked! We raised just about $300 for my team. My co-workers, friends and faculty started referring to them as “the purple cookies”, so the name stuck, and I think the color will, too.

Purple Cookie Dough

I simply added a combination of blue and red (more blue than red) gel food dye during the butter creaming stage until I got the color I wanted. Once I discovered and used gel food dye for the first time, I never went back. It adds more vibrant color with less moisture, which can often be crucial when baking. A little also goes along way because of the concentrated punch of color, so it’s absolutely worth the money for the results (Wilton brand is about $2.99 a mini-jar at Michael’s). I used a flat toothpick to dab small amounts of dye at a time. The combination of the shortening and butter give the cookies a wonderful texture.

Sans food dye, they are a beautiful sandy color. Here’s what you will need:

  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt, cinnamon, ginger
  • 2 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (buzzed in the food processor works like a charm)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter, shortening and sugars with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add egg, almond, and vanilla extracts and beat well. Combine flour, baking soda and spices in small bowl, and slowly add dry mixture to butter mixture in 2-3 batches until just combined. Slowly add chips, almonds and cranberries. Finish incorporating by hand or with a sturdy spatula.

Bake for about 9 minutes or until tops are set.

#2: “Ranger” Cookies

           IMG_3766

This is an old-fashioned recipe, from the era of spam loaf, hummingbird cake, carrot-raisin salad and fruit cocktail jello molds, evident by the special ingredients in these cookies! I was first introduced to them at the retirement home I worked at (these, and Cowboy Cookies, which is just a scary name for oatmeal chocolate chip), where the older demographic seemed to know what was in them by the name alone, and I had no idea. This is my grandmother’s recipe, and I have it on a card hand-written by my mother when she was a little girl.

IMG_3757

You will need:

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 c. corn flakes, rice krispies, or combination of the two
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut
  • 1 c. old-fashioned (not quick-cooking) rolled oats
    IMG_3744

Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture in batches until combined. In a large bowl, mix together oats, cereal, coconut and chocolate chips – it will seem like a lot of goodies to mix in, but it will turn out to be the perfect amount! Dump into mixing bowl and mix on low for about 1 minute. Finish incorporating ingredients with hands or sturdy spatula.

Scoop by heaping tablespoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown lightly.

#3: Soft Molasses Cookies

IMG_3821These are my favorite, favorite cookies to make. They always turn out so soft and chewy, they make the house smell amazing while they’re baking, they’re fun to roll in sugar, and I love the slight sparkle the rolling gives them.

You will need:

  • 1 c. white sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt, ground cloves, ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking pans with parchment. Cream together butter and sugar. Add molasses, egg and vanilla, beat until pale and fluffy. Mix together dry ingredients in a small bowl, and slowly add in batches to wet mixture. Combine well, do not over mix.

IMG_3799

Pour a generous layer of white sugar into a shallow bowl or dish. Tear off walnut-sized pieces of cookie dough. Form into balls and gently roll in sugar to coat evenly. Space on parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 9-11 minutes or until tops are just starting to crack. If you’re feeling particularly festive or fancy, once they’ve cooled, these cookies look beautiful with a glaze of fresh squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar drizzled over the top.

*I am going to be honest here, about the shipping for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap… I used padded flat rate envelopes, and broke what I think is a cardinal rule of the GFBCS. Call me a Scrooge if you will; call me a party pooper. Let me explain why I did this, though. A cookie is a cookie. As long as they had not been shipped completely carelessly, unwrapped in a plastic bag with a stamp on it, I would not have been disappointed in the least bit to see that my senders had sent me cookies in flat rate envelopes to save some $$. If a few were slightly broken along the way, so be it. You can bet I’m still gonna eat it, and it’s not gonna taste any less delicious than the intact cookies that surrounded it, nor will I think any less of the sender for saving a few $$ to make it easier to participate in the swap. When I got to the Post Office and the woman at the counter quoted me $13-15, I just couldn’t do it. I think there are several ways you can be festive and personal without doing so. Delicious as they may have been, my cookies really weren’t worth it. Times are tough, my cookies were shippable. The cookie swap is a fun way to spend a little extra [cookie] dough, and get back in return, and meet some great people along the way. I shipped all my cookies in fairly sturdy, festive treat boxes, wrapped in clear plastic bags, padded with either newsprint or those silly air pouches you get from Amazon when they really overdo it on the packaging. The flat rate padded envelope still gets them there in 2-3 days. I just really believe that the $6-7 difference between a flat rate padded envelope and a medium flat rate box is not worth it. That money could be used for so many other things, especially considering the donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to participate in the event is only $4. I feel guilty that these women sent me these gorgeous and delicious cookies, but spent so much money to make sure they arrived to me in perfect condition. Again, call me a fun-sucker, but this may prevent me from participating in the swap next year. Participants: what are your thoughts about shipping?

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3 thoughts on “Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

  1. Pingback: Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies | In Natalie's Shoes

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