Soft Maple Sugar Cookies + cookie swap recap

We’ve been on the Christmas cookie train longer than the tree has been up, since before the the first greeting card arrived, and well in advance of the deep drifts of snow blanketing our homestead.

‘Tis the nature of my work; I was developing recipes for a feature in Montreal’s French newspaper, La Presse, hence frosted, cut-out cookies were in abundance shortly after our Thanksgiving celebrations ended.

Early tryouts for the best holiday cookie meant that there was more time to narrow down a favourite and find that unique recipe to highlight for my annual cookie swap. This year, that cookie was a soft, maple-sweetened delicacy, cut into snowflake shapes, topped with a maple syrup glaze and dusted with sparkling sugar.

I wouldn’t tell you about these soft maple sugar cookies without sharing the recipe for your own baking project, so who is ready to dust off the cookie cutters?

[Read more…]

Chocolate, Charity & Cheer: Tips for Hosting a Christmas Cookie Swap

I thought it would be hard to top last year’s cookie swap, but last weekend’s event surpassed all previous. It really was the first party of the season and put us all in the holiday mood for the three week countdown to Christmas.

As I washed the serving platters and tucked dozens of shortbread, biscotti and gingerbread into various tins to be frozen, I couldn’t help but think a cookie swap is the ideal holiday party to host.

There is minimal prep, aside from your baking, of course; you can get by with a quick house tidy, brewing a big pot of coffee and mixing together a punch. At a cookie swap there are no expectations for a big meal or buffet spread, and the event can be condensed into a few hours if you’re the type who likes to be in bed with a book by 10PM.

ALL photos by Angela Chin of Tim Chin Photography

On the other hand, if you jump at any chance to entertain, the cookie swap can be expanded into a full-fledged Christmas party, as mine was. We sipped hot mulled cider (recipe coming on Wednesday!) and homemade eggnog while we sampled at least twelve varieties of cookies.

After the swap, we pulled up chairs around our long wooden table and I served up mini Tourtiere hand pies, shrimp cocktail and vegetable crudite to counteract the sugar rush. Small ramekins of French Onion Soup followed and for a few minutes there was hardly a word spoken around the table as we spooned it up.

I could try and blame Pinterest for encouraging me to pull out a few stops for my party, but I really just love to feed people. Still, Pinterest helped me come up with a few super simple decorating and menu ideas, which you can check out on my party board.

So what goes into a cookie swap and how do you make it great? Here’s the breakdown.

[Read more…]