December 15, 2014

Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

Snowball cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

It is that time of year again. That time where I make way too many cookies and I eat cookies with every meal. They say you gain an average of 15 pounds during your first year of marriage and about 5-10 pounds during the holiday season. Judging by my calculations, you may have to roll me into the New Year. It is also the time when my fridge contains stacks upon stacks of butter and I have to go to the grocery store for "one more thing...I just need some more sugar...I need to get this one obscure baking ingredient." All of these things are acceptable practices during December.

This is my third year participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and the fourth year running. Every year, food bloggers from around the world come together to bake cookies, "meet" each other and show off their recipes. I participated in 2011 with sugar spiral cookies and then in 2012 with fruitcake, candy cane and ginger shortbread cookies. Check out some of the recipe roundups from 2013 and 2012.

I wanted to keep it somewhat simple this year, so I made these cookies based on snowdrops, Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies or whatever you want to call them. They are a basic shortbread recipe rolled into round balls and dusted with sugar. I made coloured design cookies one year and decorated cookies last year and it makes things more complicated when you're doing a bunch of equally difficult cookies. This year I decided on one simple recipe with two different flavourings: one with chocolate chips and the other with almonds and a hint of cinnamon.

Chocolate Chip snowball cookies

Chocolate Chip Snowballs (adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Additional icing sugar for rolling

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla. Mix in the flour gradually and make sure to mix thoroughly. Shape into rounds and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F. When the cookies are sightly cooled, roll them in icing sugar and then let them cool. 

Almond and cinnamon snowball cookies

Almond and Cinnamon Snowballs (adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped almonds
Additional icing sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon for dusting

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the nuts and vanilla. Mix in the flour gradually and make sure to mix thoroughly. Shape into rounds and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F. Add the icing sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. When the cookies are sightly cooled, roll them in the sugar mixture and then let them cool. 

Kitchen Aid standmixer

I made about 5 or 6 different batches, alternating with the chocolate chip and almond batches and ended up losing count after awhile. When you're asked to make 3 dozen cookies, it's more like "I'll just double the recipes and make a few extra here and there." Stand mixers are a god send in the process. Sooner or later you have cookies coming out of every corner of the kitchen. And that "sprinkling" of icing sugar makes your floor looked like a mini snow storm. I made all of the batches in an afternoon a few days before we went on a week-long trip. 



The idea behind the swap is that when you sign up, you are then sent three food blogger's addresses--usually from the same country, although there are participants from around the world--and asked to mail them a dozen cookies each before a deadline. Then three different bloggers mail cookies back to you. I believe the number of participants has grown to more than 1,000 since the cookie swap began. It is also neat because then you find out about other blogs and the wonderful people behind them who you might not have known before. I also love getting mail. We had a friend housesitting for a week while we were away and I was like "keep an eye on the mail in case my cookies get here!"


The packaging and decorations are an important element. This year, I packaged them in red holiday Ziploc containers with red and white tissue paper. There isn't a Bulk Barn or Michael's craft store close to me anymore, so I picked these containers up at the Superstore. They weren't bad as a gift box. The ladies who sent me cookies definitely showed me up in the packaging department--and the cookies were fabulous too.

Cranberry bliss cookies

Am I allowed to have a favourite? My favourite might have been these cranberry bliss cookies from Claude at A la Claude. They are based on the Starbucks version and are a ginger cookie base with white chocolate icing and cranberries. These were heavenly. 

Hazelnut and chocolate biscotti

The second batch were hazelnut chocolate biscotti from Robyn at Planet Byn. These were lovely with coffee. You don't often think of biscotti being along the lines of "cookies." I like that they were something different. 

Ancho chilli chocolate cookies

These ancho chilli chocolate cookies from Bernice at Dish N' the Kitchen were also a surprise for me. When I figured out they were spicy I wasn't sure I was going to like them, however, the spice was subtle and added a bit of a kick after a few seconds of eating it. I enjoyed them a lot. Thank you everyone for the cookies. I look forward to seeing everyone else's recipes posted today.

Great Food Cookie Swap 2014

This year, each participant donated $4 for Cookies for Kids' Cancer--an organization that raises money for pediatric cancer through baking--in order to participate in the swap. See all of the other creations, check out #fbcookieswap on Twitter and Instagram and visit the Facebook page for more information. To sign up next year, fill out this form to be notified of the next swap deadlines. 

2 comments:

  1. What a great cause! And your cookies look amazing!

    ReplyDelete
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