December 13, 2012

Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

I recently wrote a story for a wedding blog on Edible Gift Ideas and I came to the conclusion that most of the fun in giving an edible gift is actually in the packaging. It's true though. I love browsing craft stores for neat boxes, bags and supplies and I especially love giving homemade treats as gifts.

No reusable Tupperware for these cookies. These tasty cookies get sent off in style.

Last year I participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap for the first time and I made sure to sign up again this year.

Food bloggers from all over sign up for the exchange where you're matched with three recipients. You then send a dozen cookies to your matches and receive three dozen in exchange. Then everyone waits anxiously by their mailboxes for their cookies and posts the recipe they made on their blogs.

I made sugar spiral cookies last time that were a little tedious, so I decided on something a little easier this year. Or, something that was actually easy, but looks like it took hours and hours to make--that's where some packaging and ribbon go a long way too.

I take absolutely no credit for this amazing recipe and its versatility. Chatelaine Magazine knocked it out of the park with their Holiday Cookie Collection feature, both in their December magazine and on their website. They have recipes for 100 holiday cookies and most of them use the same sugar cookie base. The genius part is that you just add fillings or flavours to various batches and you magically have a whole bunch of different types of cookies.

Since I needed to make three dozen cookies I decided on three different types of cookies: fruitcake, candy cane and ginger. I did stock up quite a few sticks of butter, but I hardly had to buy any additional ingredients. For the fruitcake, glaced fruit; for the candy cane, crushed candy canes; and for the ginger, candied ginger.

After "slaving away" baking cookies, you then package them up nicely and ship them off to all your friends. And receive some lovely packages from your other friends, but actually people from the internet. These chocolate truffles from Kristy of Gastronomical Sovereignty were heavenly and I loved her sparkly packaging.

Sadly, at press time I only received one package of cookies in the mail. Fingers crossed that the rest are on their way. I guess it is a busy time of year for mail and all, so I should cut Canada Post some slack.

Update: I received two lovely packages in the mail this week and they were definitely worth the wait. Check out these gingerbread white chocolate blondies in pretty packaging from Becky of bex bakes and cakes. She also has a blog devoted solely to whoopie pies!

And let's talk about these gingerbread eggnog fudge cookies from Sharana from Living the Sweet Life. Besides getting wonderful treats like these (I haven't made gingerbread this year yet, so I definitely enjoyed these two batches of treats), I also love discovering new food blogs, especially Canadian ones.

These were my cookies in cookie boxes purchased from Michael's Craft Store. I can't make these look any cooler than Chatelaine Magazine.

Can I also say I am so excited to make fruitcake this year? Yes, fruitcake. I love fruitcake so much and I don't know why, even though the glaced fruit looks like something from a 1970's nightmare.

Vanilla Icebox Cookies (Recipe from Chatelaine) (makes 55-60 cookies)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar


Stir flour with baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Gather the dough into a ball or separate it into however many batches you want to make.

Add your various fillings and mix well into the dough. Roll each portion into a 2-inch wide log, wrap it in saran wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. 

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice cookies into 1/4-inch rounds and arrange 1-inch apart on the sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes and let them cook on a wire rack. 

And there you have it. According to Chatelaine, these cookies last up to five days refrigerated and up to one month frozen (uncooked dough). Just don't look at the nutritional information because that's no fun at this time of year. 

After I mailed off my required cookies, I made two more kinds from the Holiday Cookie Guide: London fog and Birthday cake. Those ones were made with ground tea leaves, sprinkles and a touch of icing on top. You could put any kind of filling you want in them to modify the basic recipe. Now I'm thinking ground espresso, chai tea and coloured sugar. This could get interesting. 

To receive notifications for next year's Great Food Blogger Cookie swap sign up here. Who knows? You may even receive a pretty package of cookies from a fellow Canadian foodie.

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