Hosting or attending a cookie exchange is a great — and fun — way to stock up on homemade baking for the holiday season.

Bake it and exchange it

Cookie exchanges are a great way to share your favourite baked treats, as well as a fun way of stocking up for the holidays

Now’s the time to plan your cookie exchange. What’s a cookie exchange? Well, you call a bunch of your friends up — six to 10 is a good number — and everyone participating bakes a dozen of one kind of cookie times the number of people participating, plus one more for sampling at the exchange.

Usually the organizer makes up a set of rules that everyone agrees to (no duplicates, for instance). Then everyone gets together on the exchange date for a little fun before going home with a flavourful assortment of cookies to last through the holidays.

At the exchange, cookies are sampled, perhaps a glass of cheer may be enjoyed along with Christmas music. Then cookies are exchanged and everyone heads for home with a great assortment (and hopefully plenty of new recipes).

The recipes I’m sharing today are all exchange-quality, so why not give a cookie exchange a go this year.

Gluten-Free Cappuccino Flats

2 cups Bisquick Gluten Free mix

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or crystals

1 teaspoon hot water

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled

1 – 1/4 cups chocolate chips

1/3 cup shortening

In small bowl, mix Bisquick mix and cinnamon.

In another small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in water.

In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg and dissolved coffee with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add melted chocolate and Bisquick mixture; mix just until soft dough forms. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Place half the dough on 16-inch length of waxed paper. Use waxed paper to shape dough into a roll, 5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper. Repeat with remaining half of dough. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm. Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices with sharp knife. On ungreased cookie sheet, place slices 1 inch apart.  Bake 9 to 10 mins. or until set. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet. Carefully remove to cooling rack. Cool 30 mins. before dipping.

In small shallow microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High about 1 minute or until softened; stir until smooth. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip back into dish. Place on waxed paper; let stand about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Reverse Nanaimo Bars

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup finely chopped almonds

1 oz. white chocolate chopped

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling:

1/3 cup butter

2/3 cups cocoa powder

1 1/3 cup icing sugar

3 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons custard powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:

8 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon butter

1/3 oz. dark chocolate, shaved

In bowl, stir together graham crumbs, coconut, almonds and chocolate. Drizzle with butter and egg, stirring until combined.

Press into parchment paper-lined 9-inch (2.5 L) square cake pan. Bake in 350 degrees F oven until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.

Filling: In heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat; stir in cocoa until smooth. Pour into bowl; beat in icing sugar, milk, custard powder and vanilla until smooth. Spread over cooled base; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Topping: In heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt white chocolate with butter; spread over filling. Refrigerate until chocolate is almost set, about 30 minutes. With tip of knife, score into bars; sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate until chocolate is completely set, about 30 minutes.

Make-ahead: Wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days or overwrap in foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Cut into bars.

Holiday Lime Cooler Cookies

2 cups butter or margarine, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons grated lime peel

1 teaspoon vanilla

Granulated sugar

Lime Glaze and Decoration

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons Key lime or regular lime juice

2 tubes (0.68 oz each) Betty Crocker green decorating gel, if desired

Heat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl, beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, cornstarch, lime peel and vanilla until well-blended.

Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press bottom of glass into dough to grease, then dip into granulated sugar; press on dough balls until 1/4 inch thick. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small bowl, stir together 1 cup powdered sugar and the lime juice. Stir in additional juice if necessary. Spread glaze over cookies. Squeeze drops of decorating gel on glazed cookies; drag toothpick through gel for marbled design.

Turtle Shortbread Cookies

1-1/2 cups butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

24 caramels

1 bag (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)

2 teaspoons shortening

1 cup chopped pecans

6 dozen pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl, mix butter, sugar and almond extract. Stir in flour and salt. (If dough is crumbly, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons additional softened butter.)

Divide dough into 12 equal parts. Roll each part into 1/4-inch thick circle. (If dough is sticky, chill about 15 minutes.) Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Place wedges 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, heat caramels over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until melted.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High 1 to 3 minutes, stirring halfway through heating time, until melted and thin enough to drizzle.

Dip 2 straight edges of each cookie into melted caramel, then into chopped pecans. (If caramel thickens, add up to 1 teaspoon water and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramel softens.)  Place a dot of melted chocolate on top of each cookie; place pecan half on chocolate. Drizzle remaining chocolate on tops of cookies. Delicious!

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

 

 

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