Friday, December 14, 2012

Cookie Exchanges (Or, how to gain 5 pounds in one day)

I love this time of year.  I love the music, the lights, the food.  Most of all, I love cookie exchanges.  I know the general idea is to bake and then trade with others so that you will have a nice selection of treats to offer your guests when they descend on you for the holidays, but that is not how it works in my world.  I go to collect and hoard.  In fact, I have a whole strategy for these gatherings.  1. Get there early and stake out a place by the door so you can see what people are bringing.  2. Bring a large container – preferably air tight – to load up on the goodies.  3.  Bring a large bag to put said container in, so nobody can see just how much you walk away with.  A friend of mine hosts just such a gathering every year.  She makes some tasty quiche or frittata and usually has some nice cheese set out as she knows we will need some protein to balance all the sugar we are going to ingest.   She starts in late morning so we can call it Brunch, and serves champagne and coffee drinks.  In my opinion, this is how everyone should do this.  She also invites all the ladies she knows so there is a fantastic selection, even from the friend who doesn’t bake - she brings little bottles of Baileys.

Everything is set out beautifully, and we all circle the table “tasting” all the offerings.  By the time things wind down in the early afternoon, we are all in a sugar coma and slightly tipsy from the champagne and/or Baileys.  Now, you might think this all sounds wonderful and stress free.  Not a chance, as I obsess about what type of cookies to bring for my offering.   An old favorite? (retro)  A new recipe out of a magazine? (trendy)  Perhaps something chosen randomly off a website? (risky)  And to add a layer to everything, my Aussie husband does not eat chocolate so to be fair to him I try not to make something he can’t eat.  Last year I thought I would try a recipe from my mother’s files – Pecan Pie Bars.  For some reason, they would not set and I was left with a gooey runny mess.  No way I was taking that! 

Fortunately for all involved, a few days earlier I had ordered 2 dozen cookies from my friend at Farthest Star Cookies  and they saved the day.  She bakes them with booze in the batter, so they were a big hit with this group.  In the end, I had to admit that I had not in fact baked them myself, but by that time we had all had a bit to drink so no one cared.  I was able to load up with everyone else’s nice homemade goodies with a clear conscience.   I think this year I may skip the recipe search and just order a bag of Cookie Shots!

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