Bite into your Christmas list with a cookie exchange

A Christmas cookie exchange is a fun and social event during the holiday season. For ease of sharing, package your contribution in individual take-home containers for each person and include the ingredient list and storage suggestions.

Chocolate Roll-out Cookies

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 625 mL
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 60 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda 1 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, optional 2 mL
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped 85 g
  • 1 c. butter, room temperature 250 mL
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar 325 mL
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 2 mL
  • sprinkles or other sugar decorations (optional)
  • royal icing, optional

Sift first five ingredients and cinnamon, if desired, into medium bowl. Stir chocolate in metal bowl and set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Set aside.

Beat butter in large bowl at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about two minutes.

Add sugar and beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about two minutes.

Add egg and beat until well blended, about one minute. Reduce speed to low and beat in vanilla and chocolate. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed just to blend.

Gather dough into a ball and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and flatten into disk.

Wrap disks separately in plastic and chill until firm, at least four hours.

Dough can be made two days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before rolling out.

Position rack in centre of oven and preheat to 350 F (180 C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Working with one disk at a time, roll out dough between two sheets of waxed or parchment paper to one-eighth inch (3 cm) thickness for smaller cookies, two-inch (5 cm), cookies and one-quarter-inch (6 cm) thickness for larger, three to four inch, (7-10 cm) ones.

Waxed paper prevents you from adding too much flour, which will make the cookies tough.

Using decorative cookie cutters, cut out cookies using cold dough. If it warms up, place in the freezer for about five minutes.

Use an offset spatula to peel away the excess dough and transfer the cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing one inch apart.

Gather scraps, roll out dough and cut more cookies, repeating until all dough is used. If not icing cookies, decorate with sprinkles or other sugar toppings, if desired.

Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are firm on top and slightly darker around edges, about nine minutes for smaller cookies and up to 12 minutes for larger cookies. Cool completely on rack.

Decorate cookies with royal icing, if desired.

Cookies can be made four days ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in airtight containers. Makes 60 small or 20 large cookies.

Source: adapted from Dorie Greenspan.

Royal Icing

  • 1 1/2 – 2 c. icing sugar, unsifted 375-500 mL
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract, optional 2 mL

Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined. Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.

The lesser amount of icing sugar is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add small amounts of water, a few drops at a time.

Beat on low until combined and smooth.

Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.

Royal icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Dried Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

This is a very sticky dough. Lightly wet your hands to prevent sticking. Shape the dough into a log.

  • 1 1/2 c. flour 375 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 7 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature 125 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 7 mL
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries, chopped 75 mL
  • 1/3 c. pistachios, chopped 75 mL

Heat oven to 350 F (180 C) and have the rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, cornmeal and salt together. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until smooth, about three minutes.

Add eggs and continue beating until creamy, about two more minutes. Beat in vanilla extract.

With the mixer on slow speed, add the flour mixture and beat only until it is incorporated. The mixture will be sticky. Turn off mixer and stir in cranberries and nuts with a spatula.

Scrape half of the dough onto one side of the baking sheet. Moisten your hands slightly so the dough doesn’t stick and form into a log about 12 inches long. Repeat on the other side of the baking sheet with the remainder of the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the logs are lightly golden but still soft and springy to the touch. Cool for 30 minutes.

Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board. Heat oven again to 350 F (180 C).

With a serrated knife, trim the ends and cut the log into three-quarter-inch (2 cm) slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet but this time stand them on edge. Bake for another 15 minutes or until they are golden and firm. Transfer to cooling racks. When cool store in an airtight container until needed.

Source: adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Peppermint Ammonia Cookies

Ammonia bicarbonate is one of the leaveners in this cookie. It produces a light and airy cookie that becomes moister with sitting. They were probably brought to Canada with Scandinavian immigrants. The dough is sticky so I used a lot of flour on the countertop and floured my hands. Knead dough a couple of times and then gently flatten before rolling. Use more flour as required but brush off excess before baking.

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened 125 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar 375 mL
  • 1 c. heavy cream 250 mL
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. boiling water 30 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. bakers’ ammonia (ammonium bicarbonate) 22 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint oil 2 mL
  • 4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 1.25 mL
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder 12 mL

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the heavy cream and beaten eggs.

Mix the ammonia into the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add to the butter mixture along with the peppermint oil.

Combine flour and baking powder and add to the batter. Mix until evenly blended. Generously flour the countertop and roll the dough out to one-quarter-inch (6 mm) in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Place cookies 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Continue to re-roll scraps being careful not to incorporate more flour until dough is gone.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until edges are golden. Cool slightly on baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Top with a simple vanilla glaze and Christmas sprinkles for a festive mood.

Shortbread Cookies

I used a vintage cutter for these cookies. Holly sprinkles are available at bulk baking stores. Be sure to shower cookies with sugar before baking.

  • 3/4 lb. butter, at room temperature 365 g
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 3 1/2 c. flour 975 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in stand mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

Gradually add flour and continue to mix until the flour is incorporated.

Knead a couple of times and cut into two equal pieces. Pat into a rectangle, wrap in plastic kitchen wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Roll to half-inch (1.2 cm) thickness, cut and place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Decorate with sprinkles or shower with more white sugar.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about nine minutes.

Source: adapted from Ina Garten.

Three Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature 175 mL
  • 1 c. packed dark brown sugar 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. molasses 60 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour 625 mL
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger root 22 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped crystallized ginger 125 mL

This recipe is the best I have ever made.

Cream butter and brown sugar in a large mixer bowl. Beat in the molasses and then the egg.

Sift the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and salt together.

Stir into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon until blended. Add the fresh and crystallized gingers and stir well until mixed.

Refrigerate covered dough for two hours or overnight.

Remove from refrigerator, heat oven to 350 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape the dough into one-inch (2.5 cm) balls and place about two inches (5 cm) apart on baking sheets. Bake until browned, about 10 minutes.

Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 3 1/2 – 4 dozen.

Source: adapted from Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.

Milk Chocolate Fudge

  • 1 lb. fine-quality milk chocolate, chopped 450 g
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter 60 mL
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk 450 mL
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 3 mL

Use the best quality chocolate that you can find.

Line bottom of an eight-inch (20 cm) square baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper.

Heat all ingredients in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

Pour into baking pan and chill, uncovered, until firm, about four hours. Run a knife around edges of pan and invert fudge onto a work surface.

Remove parchment and cut fudge into one-inch (2.5 cm) squares. Serve chilled.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

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