Why not hold a cookie exchange?
Home cooks have been casually swapping holiday treats for a century or more, but the first mention in print of such a practice has been traced to the 1963 edition of “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.” You may plan a traditional swap or update the event using it to raise money for a charitable cause, such as packing cookies to send to our soldiers. Here are 10 steps for a successful cookie exchange:
- Make a list of 11 friends who like to bake.
- Set a date for early in December and send out invitations by mid-November.
- Ask each guest to bring six dozen of their favorite cookie to swap.
- Insist on homemade cookies. They do not have to be fancy, and no-bake cookies are welcome.
- Remind guests that this party is B.Y.O.T. – Bring Your Own Tins.
- Request each guest bring 11 copies of their recipe for sharing.
- Encourage everyone to share the origins of their recipes, plus any helpful baking tips.
- Serve holiday punch, mulled wine or coffee along with any extra cookies.
- Clear the table, set out all the cookies and let the swapping begin! Each person will end up taking home a half dozen of each type of cookie.
- To add holiday spirit to your swap, consider asking for a modest cash donation from each guest to be given to a local food pantry or charity.
As you’re baking away, here are a few common cookie concerns and questions… we’ve got the answers!
Why do my cookies sometimes turn out flat?
Many things may contribute to flat cookies. First, all butter cookies spread because the fat begins to melt as soon as it enters a warm oven. Substitute some margarine or vegetable shortening for butter to help maintain a puffy cookie.
Remember to refrigerate dough between batches.
Cold dough will help the cookie retain its shape. Make sure your cookie sheet has cooled completely before adding a new batch of dough. Greasing pans also encourages spreading, so consider baking cookies on a sheet of parchment paper, nonstick aluminum foil or silicone liner.
How do I transfer my cookies to the cooling rack without breaking any?
Similar to recipes that advise cooling a cake in its pan on a wire rack before inverting, cookies also benefit from standing one to three minutes on their cookie sheet before lifting onto a cooling rack. Cookies right out of the oven need time to allow the sugar to set. Conversely, when they sit on the cookie sheet too long, the sugars will cause the cookie to stick to the pan. It helps to purchase a very thin metal spatula to lift cookies from their sheets.
How do bakeries create such perfectly round cookies?
Professionals know to use small ice cream scoops to create uniform cookies. If you don’t have one, improvise using two measuring tablespoons. Fill one tablespoon with your desired amount of dough, then use the second tablespoon to help form the dough into a round and lift it out and onto the cookie sheet.