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Holiday Cookie Exchange - Article

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Article: "Holiday Cookie Exchange"
Author: Chris Sadler
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Copyright:  2003 Chris Sadler
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Holiday Cookie Exchange

by Chris Sadler -

With the Christmas holidays coming up, many cooks will be
looking at lots of baking and preparations for the parties and
get-togethers not to mention the big day itself. How can you
reduce the stress and still put out a variety of tasty treats
for family and friends? Try a cookie exchange.

The general idea of a cookie exchange is a group of friends
each bake a batch of cookies to be shared amongst the group.
Each member concentrates on and only has to purchase ingredients
for one recipe but still gets a variety of goodies to offer at
their own home. You need ground rules and everyone has different
ideas so it is a good idea to discuss the details in advance so
everyone knows their role.

For some parties there is a strict rule about the cookies being
homemade. At others the gathering is more important so if a
member feels a time crunch at the last minute they can choose
to buy something from the bakery. Store bought bagged cookies
would be taboo but bakery, homemade-like would be okay.

First, agree on a timeline. Make sure each member can make the
commitment and ask that they each set aside baking time at least
a few days before the scheduled exchange (that way they have
time to bake and time to fix it if something goes wrong).
Another reason you might want to bake the cookies early is they
"cure" a bit. Fresh cookies don't really transport well and tend
to crumble badly during the exchange.

Ask your members to send you their recipes so you can make
copies for the others and ensure that no two are making the same
cookies (don't forget, variety is the key!). They don't all have
to bake cookies either, bars and macaroons work really well too.
It is a nice idea if they include a few lines about why they
chose this recipe or any memories they have of making or eating
these cookies. Sharing the details of how the recipe was once
grandma's or how you set fire to the kitchen one time while
baking them is half the fun of the party! Create a booklet of
the recipes and memories for each member to keep. If you have
a digital camera you could even take pics at the party of the
cookies and the members to include in the booklets.

Members should bake one dozen cookies for each member (assuming
you have a smallish group of less than 10 people - you might
want to say 1/2 dozen per member if there are lots of
participants) and package them separately so the exchange is
easier to make. With the new disposable containers on the
market, separate packaging is easy. Even a simple paper plate
(preferably with a Christmas design) would work.

The party itself works well with finger foods like veggies and
dip and buffet style food. If it is an evening do, a wine and
cheese spread would be fun too. Make sure everyone knows that
this is for participants only, no spouses or kids at the party. 

Looking for a good recipe to use for your cookie exchange? Try
one of these:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

    * 1 3/4 cups Flour
    * 1/2 teaspoon Salt
    * 2 cups Rolled Oats
    * 1/2 cup Coconut
    * 1 cup Butter or Margarine
    * 1 cup Brown Sugar
    * 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    * 1/4 cup Boiling Water
    * 1 teaspoon Vanilla
    * 1 1/3 cups Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream sugar and butter together; mix in flour, salt, rolled
oats and coconut.

Dissolve soda in boiling water; add to mixture. Add vanilla
and chocolate chips; stir to blend.

Roll dough into small balls and place on lightly greased
cookie sheet. Flatten each dough ball with fork which has been
dipped in cold water.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes. 

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