Cookies & Cocktails 44

Don Your Aprons, Break Out Those Pearls

There’s nothing quite like an old-fashioned cookie swap. So in order to welcome the spirit of the season we decided to host our very own holiday cookie exchange. And what better way to practice an age-old tradition then taking it back to 1959 and adding a retro spin. As we discovered, the recipe for the most delicious party of the year is some good friends, seasonal-cider cocktails, a touch of champagne, and most importantly cookies – lots of cookies.

Lemon bars, Grandma’s snowballs, chocolate bark, and good ole’ gingerbread all made an appearance, and many other cookie varieties that are a great addition to anyone’s recipe book. Vintage opaque pink cake stands and flower-patterned cookie trays were once again filled to the brim with cookies and their crumbles. Eager friends stood nearby always keeping one eye on the glowing treat display as guest started arriving one by one. Our favorite holiday tunes, as varied as the cookie selection, got us all in the mood for the merrymaking.

Eventually the chit chatter of conversation was hushed as a toast was made, champagne popped and then the tasting began. A cookie for now, plenty for later–boxes, tissue paper and ribbon were flying as everyone got to work packing away sweet treasures. Considering sharing is a cardinal rule for the season, there were plenty of cookies to go around, for everyone’s friends and family.

When it comes to a cookie swap, the more really is the merrier. That means more baked goods to go around, more new recipes to try and of course more laughter to be shared. We hope you enjoy our cookie swap party as much as we did, and hopefully it inspires you to host your own.

Sheryl Hadley’s Chocolate Raspberry Bark

10 oz chocolate chips (at least semi-sweet, preferably 60%)

1/2 c. freeze dried raspberries, crushed

1/2 c. cacao nibs, crushed
Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat.  Stir in raspberries & cacao nibs and spread on wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Place in freezer for approximate.  Break bark into pieces with hands & enjoy!
**you can also subsititute 3/4 c toffee pieces (Heath) to stir in, spread on wax paper on cookie sheet, and generously grind sea salt on the melted chocolate before freezing.

Chewy Ginger Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/12 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

3/4 dark brown sugar

1/3 cup vegetable shortening (trans-fat free)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup raw turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk first 7 ingredients (flour through black pepper) in a medium bowl.  Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar, shortening, and butter in a large bowl, scraping down sides halfway through beating, until light and fluffy.  Reduce mixer speed to low.  Add egg, molasses, and vanilla.  Beat just to blend.  Add flour mixture; beat on low speed to blend.  Mix in crystallized ginger by hand (dough will be very soft and sticky).

Place raw sugar in a shallow bowl.  Using 2 tablespoons, scoop out dough (1 tablespoon at a time) into the raw sugar; turn to coat well.  Roll into a ball and transfer to the baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies, rotating the sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and centers appear cracked, 10-12 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool.    Can be made 3 days ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.