HOW TO COME OUT ON TOP WITH YOUR COOKIE SWAP
(PCM) Whoever invented the holiday cookie exchange was either a sadist or a genius – maybe both.
On the one hand, participating in a cookie exchange means you’ve got to stop and bake something (something pretty enough to share, no less) right in the middle of gift-shopping, house decorating, holiday concerting, family visiting, nervous breakdown-ing, and whatever else you’ve got on your chaotic December schedule.
On the other hand, participating in a cookie exchange means you get to leave the house with one kind of cookie and come home with way more than one kind of cookie. That’s sheer brilliance right there – and, for many of us, incentive enough.
So if you said “yes” to the siren call of cookie exchange at your office/church/AA meetup/block party/PTA/ what-have-you, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your swap:
The first rule of cookie club is… follow the rules of cookie club (assuming there are rules of cookie club. There usually are.) If you agreed to make something from scratch, something holiday-themed, something allergy-friendly or something three-quarter-inch-thick (no more, no less) then do that. Nobody wants to spend hours in their kitchen meeting exacting cookie guidelines only to take home your half-hearted, rebel-without-a-clue confections. Don’t be that guy.
Plan Ahead. Nothing kills the joy of cookie creation quite like a last-minute rush. Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to make, mark your calendar, check your recipe, and write your shopping list. Get your ingredients several days in advance and do your baking a night or two before, or more! Some cookies can even be frozen for weeks ahead of time. For those of us with a tendency to forget crucial components until we’re up to our elbows in cookie prep, that extra time for contingencies (like emergency shopping runs) is an absolute must.
Not sure what to make? Chocolate chip cookies are America’s favorite, hands-down. Other classics include ginger men or ginger ladies (ginger gender-neutrals?), sugar cookies (you can make them round or in fun seasonal shapes like trees or stars. The sky’s the limit – Darth Vader cookies? Why not!) and cookies of the peanut butter or oatmeal persuasion.
But be true to your abilities. Classic crowd-pleasers are not always the easiest to make (oh, the humanity of all those lost cookie-person heads and limbs.) If baking is not your strongest skill, go for something basic, or consider a nice no-bake recipe. If you’re a cookie pro, though, why not try something unusual? A plate of all chocolate chip and blah drop cookies is no fun – how about wowing us with fancy double nut bars or sparkling candy bark! With great power comes great responsibility, and cookies are no exception.
Indeed, a well-balanced plate of cookie love can do wonders for the weary soul. Imagine if there were more cookies, better cookies, to go around. In other words, if you’re going to do a cookie exchange, do it right. Maybe, just maybe, it could change the world.