Every year, a friend of mine throws a gigantic holiday cookie exchange party. Everyone is asked to bake a batch of cookies…and by a batch, I mean a hell of a lot; tripling or quadrupling a recipe…and then bring that batch over to her amazingly fantastic house. She is Christian, her husband is Jewish, and their house is filled with a wide variety of fantastic holiday trimmings, doings and goings on. I’m telling you, it’s festive, people.
At this point, we each spend the day in the most gigantic kitchen ever making even more extremely large batches of entirely different kinds of cookies. Then, everyone lays the thousands of tiny treats out on the dining room table to divide, conquer and bag up all the sugared varieties. We all head home with giant trashbags full of sweets thrown over our shoulders, as if we were 300 lb. senior citizens circling the globe with livestock.
It’s cookie making on sterioids. And it’s surprisingly fun.
Every year, I look forward to it, and every year I always completely dread the necessary day-before preparation. The measuring. The mixing. The mashing. The mind-boggling baking marathon. Because as much as I luhuve cookies, it takes some serious time and energy to make 700 dozen of them.
But the joy of the baking day is always worth it. I’m not terribly craftsy, homemakey and/or domesticky, but there’s something about making lots of cookies with lots of friends in the most gigantic kitchen ever…complete with wassail and lots of champagne…that just puts me in the holiday spirit. In fact, I’ve found it doesn’t really feel like the holidays until I’ve spent a day covered in flour, icing, and red and blue sugar crystals.
And even better, everyone goes home with about 25 dozen different kinds of cookies. This year I was able to make cookie trays for everyone who works in my office. Literally. I came in on Monday with the sweet offerings of inexpensive, much appreciated, quickly vanishing gifts. I’m super popular at the office right now.
Plus, my contributions to the exchange turned out really swell and looked a lot like this.
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a shallow bowl, place 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining cup of sugar until combined. Beat in egg and then molasses until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in dry ingredients, just until a dough forms.
3. Pinch off and roll dough into balls, each equal to 1 tablespoon. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat.
4. Arrange balls on baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, until edges are just firm, 10 to 15 minutes (cookies can be baked two sheets at a time, but they will not crackle uniformly). Cool 1 minute on baking sheets; transfer to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container, 3 to 4 days.
So what are your favorite seasonal cookie recipes? Please do tell. And add your pick to the Queso cookie exchange by posting it in comments, or linking us to your place or your recipe book of choice.
Happy Holidays. And Happy Cookies. From the house of Queso to you and yours.