I had hoped to host a cookie party this year, but schedules didn't match up. There's always next year, right? I'll be sure to post my cookie party format in time for the holiday next year, for those of you interested. It involves a practical (not insane) amount of cookies, and it lets the non-bakers contribute wine.
Instead, I participated in 2 cookie exchanges. I organized a share-by-mail version with my amazing cousins, and those cookies have already started to show up on my doorstep. Homemade marshmallows, caramels, peanut butter cookies, the list goes on. And one of the smartest things in the boxes - salty snacks to counter the sweet. One cousin sent homemade roasted, seasoned nuts, and another sent chex mix.
The second exchange a virtual one, organized by Olivia at The Girl Can Bake. We didn't get to eat the cookies, but we all have the recipes from each other to try for ourselves. This is also my first official participation in a blog round-up. We all exchanged cookie recipes and pictures to share on our own blogs. The recipes are really fun, and the last few are a ginger-bake-off.
The Girl Can Bake
What's not to love? A red velvet cookie with a cream cheese center could be the leading star of your cookie tray.
It definitely grabs your attention with its holiday colors. They look nice and soft too, contrasting with many of the other types of cookies that share space on that cookie plate.
Olivia from The Girl Can Bake made these cookies and is also the organizer of this festive little exchange.
The Pudge Factor
Adorable, right? Get the kids involved with the decoration for extra fun. M&Ms for the buttons and frosting + mini chocolate chips for the eyes.
These looks like nice sturdy cookies too, which make them a great candidate for shipping. I would suggest a little layer of holiday tissue paper between each one to make sure the M&M's don't break the back of the person stacked on top of them.
Sue Bee Homemaker
Speaking of M&Ms, we have these Monster cookies to look at!
Today I learned, thanks to this blogger, that Monster cookies refer to a type of cookie, not their size. They have peanut butter, oatmeal, M&Ms and chocolate chips.
Stack these 'monsters' on your cookie tray, or ship them to some friends. They also freeze well for a treat after the holiday madness.
The Girl Can Bake
Every cookie tray, in my opinion, should have 1 or 2 'non traditional' cookies. I like to watch who eats these (and when) to gauge their sense of adventure. I know, it's silly, but it keeps me entertained.
I'd be the first to grab one of these! I might even elbow a few of the in-laws out of my way to get the last one. I love pistachios, cranberries and chocolate - and she uses as much chocolate as sugar, which I completely approve of.
The Pudge Factor
A refreshing cookie for your holiday tray - a lemony, tart little treat.
As someone who loves all things lemon, I would probably sneak a few of these into my handbag to take home when no one was looking. Maybe I will try these next year when my 2-year old meyer lemon trees produces more than 3 fruit.
The best ginger cookies!?
Of all the bloggers in this exchange, 3 of us are in the bay area, and all 3 of us made ginger cookies. I feel like we need to all get together and have a ginger cookie bake off next year. Or maybe we all have to bring something different 😉
Now to the cookies! First, you have to choose your camp. Are you on the gingersnap side - a crisp, spicier cookie? Or do you like the soft gingerbread cookies that have more molasses and warmth? Or maybe it's just too dang hard to decide and you want them all... that's probably most of us, right?
Rockridge Kitchen - that's me!
For those of you who like the snappy, spicy kind - this is IT!
I've made a lot of gingery cookies and this one has been the winner for the past several years. They have 3 times the ginger as most recipes and add an extra kick with black pepper and cayenne. We also remove as much moisture as possible to get that extra snap when you bite into them (thanks to Cook's Illustrated for printing the original recipe!)
If you are one of those people (or know one of those people) who tends to extremes - this is the cookie for them. It doesn't pull any punches, that's for sure.
My Robe Life
You know, she has me pretty convinced that these are the best soft gingerbread cookies. She tasted cookies all over the bay area, looking for the perfect one. In the end, the winner ended up being from Tartine's cookbook, with a few adjustments based on her tasting experiences. Based on the ingredients, it looks like these will be pleasantly gingery with that warm Christmas feeling.
She managed to make the cookie a bit crisp, while soft at the same time. Cover it with some icing and... OMG I want one right now. Really, like right now.
Sue Bee Homemaker
First of all, she doesn't claim to have found the best cookie (like My Robe Life and I did). And it's probably unfair to pit her against those of us who claimed to have found the best, when she was just enjoying a little baking session in her home, probably with some coffee.
But I put her here because I think her cookie is perfect for those of you who aren't extreme ginger-lovers. It has hints of ginger and a good amount of those warming seasonal spices like cinnamon and cloves. And there's something to be said about a soft and chewy cookie, that doesn't overwhelm the taste buds, to enjoy while sipping on some evening coffee. Let's just say it might get an award for the best supporting actor, leaving the showboating fame to the other 2 cookies.