Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Holiday Treats - Cookie / Treat Exchange

Who wants to do a big cookie exchange? I do! Plus I know a few other people who would love to do one too!

While doing another taste test (Pepperidge Farm Cookies), it was Nicole that mentioned that she had a Gingerbread Chocolate Chip cookie recipe that she really wanted to make this season. From there it evolved into "let's do a cookie exchange"! A few days later, we all got together to do it! 

Texts were exchanged back and forth in the days leading up to the cookie exchange. Many were wondering how strict the "cookie" rule was going to be. 

What if we just make things that bring us joy during the holidays. Perfect! 

That means I can make one of my favorite holiday treats. Toffee! I've made this a couple years now and it's always been a bit hit. I chopped some almonds and toasted them on the stove with butter. That made then house smell amazing. 

Then added sugar, butter, and vanilla to a pot to make my toffee. 

That is hot! Alli asked to help, but I declined. No boiling sugar for you yet. 

I poured my toffee onto a cookie sheet, spread chocolate on top, then added my toasted almonds. 

And when it cooled, it was delicious! (I mean, looked delicious. I certainly wouldn't taste any before the cookie exchange.)

The kids wanted to make a treat too. These chocolate covered pretzels look great! Salty and sweet at the same time. 

Ooh, and topped with peppermint bits. A lovely holiday treat! 

My second favorite thing to make are these Salted Caramel Buttercream Gingerbread cookies, based on the Karamell-Kuche kitchen in the Epcot Germany pavilion. You can find the recipe in the article I wrote for Micechat here
Making the gingerbread cookie dough the day before so it can chill in the fridge overnight. 

And making my own caramel sauce. This one doesn't get as hot as the toffee. 

But it's super tasty. 

My cookies are done! As is my buttercream! 
I made a few of the regular size gingerbread cookies (60 grams) (that you'd find at Epcot), but those are always so huge we have to get a knife to split them up to share. I made a few more personal size cookies (30 grams) to do something similar, but more manageable. 

And right before the cookie exchange, I put a few together. These are sure to be a hit. 

It's not the holidays until my Grandma's Spiced Tea makes an appearance. While this is cooking on the stovetop, the house fills with the smells of Christmas. Theresa says it's Christmas in a Cup. She's not wrong. We've brought this along in thermoses to many different holiday events over the years. 

And a new favorite is a caramel/cream cheese apple dip that our niece Aubrey discovered. It's really good when you combine them with our favorite apples, the SnapDragon. For the past few years, we've found them in our Aldi grocery stores here in Florida, and just a few weeks ago in Costco! 

Knowing we'd have so many sweet things, Theresa brought one more thing that is all salty and savory. These pigs in a blanket are so good. 

Little Smokies sausages and Crescent Rolls.  

So we've been busy baking, but what about everyone else? 
Jacob has a lot of treats that he wants to make too! That's a whole lot of chocolate! 

For fudge! And in the background, something new! Cream cheese mints!

Jacob's sister-in-law makes these Peanut Butter Cup cookies and sent him the recipe. 


More treats? Tea cakes? 
Jacob showed me the old recipe card from that his mom would use when she was making them. She must have made them a lot because you could tell it came out of the recipe box often. 

Those look great Jacob! 

The day of the cookie exchange has arrived! Jacob is hosting at his place. His RV fireplace is running and his Christmas tree is up. Christmas music is playing in the background. (Jacob said he's naughty because he's about to eat a whole lot of sugar). 

Looks great Jacob! 

Let's see, you made...
Biscotti, No Bake Cookies, Tea Cakes (cutout cookies), Peanut Butter Cup cookies, Fudge, and Cream Cheese Mints. Wow! 6 things?!?

Nicole and her mom Rita brought many things too! 
Nicole brought an iced shortbread (which was delicious), chocolate chip pumpkin bread, and gingerbread chocolate chip cookies (the dark chocolate chips were so melty and amazing).
Her mom Rita made Walnut Drop Cookies (they reminded me a lot of my mom's pecan sandies. Delicious). And also Bonbon cookies, a recipe Rita got from her mom, and has made for her kids since they were little. Inside the bonbon cookies there is a surprise that is hiding! It can be either chocolate, caramel, or nuts. Nicole recalls when she was little looking through all the cookies to try to tell which one had chocolate inside. 

Alli and Ian brought chocolate and peppermint covered pretzels. 

Theresa has pigs-in-a-blanket, spiced tea, and caramel/cream cheese apple dip. 

And then there's the toffee and salted caramel buttercream cookies that I brought. 

All in all, I think that makes 17 unique items that were brought to our cookie exchange. How many people are there here? Just 7? <Baymax voice> Oh no. 

I mean, it would be rude not to try everything, right? 
Good thing I didn't eat lunch or dinner. This... this is a little ridiculous. But everyone did get to take home lots of tasty treats to enjoy before the holidays! 

Hey! Nice shirt!
Thank you Jacob for hosting a great cookie exchange! Thank you Nicole for suggesting it! I think everyone had a lot of fun with it tonight! 

1 comment:

  1. That was an AMAZING, DELICIOUS Cookie/Treat many unique offerings (some passed through the generations, too!) Of course it would be rude to not try everything! :-) Everyone got into the festivities by making something(s) much color and variety. Looks like Jacob has adjusted well to baking in his RV. Having the fireplace going, Christmas music in the background, and different Christmas decorations help set up the scene to enjoy ALL those yummy goodies (nice hosting, Jacob). That was a fun, "sweet" gathering. EOM