December 11, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

I'd like to start off saying how much fun I had with this cookie swap.  It was a blast!  How better to get in the spirit of Christmas than by giving?  Okay, there was a receiving end too, but there is nothing wrong with that!  I nervously signed myself up for the cookie swap near the end of November.  Being that it's my first time involved with the blog world at large I think my hesitancy was well warranted.  Have you ever sent your food through the mail to be received by someone you don't know and then tasted not knowing a person's personal preferences?  By the time they were sent though, I was very confident the receivers would enjoy my cookies.
 To start I tested a few recipes.  I picked four I thought would be possible candidates.  I baked, tasted, tweaked and placed one cookie from each recipe in a plastic bag to be left for a week.  I shared the remaining cookies with everyone who lives within driving distance of myself!  When one week was up we tasted again to see how the cookies held up.  While they were all acceptable there was one clear winner.  A cookie who's flavour and texture were not compromised with the wait, if anything they were enhanced.  Not only were the cookies the best for taste and texture, they were also the most seasonal.  Can they be any more perfect?

The cookies had to be sent by Monday December 5th.  Since I had that day off, and because the packages wouldn't be waiting in a storage center over the weekend I decided to bake them that day. There is nothing like getting down to the wire!  The cookies baked up beautifully, crisp and chewy, sweet and spicy.  I cooled them quickly, threw them in three separate tins and wrapped them in brown paper.  I wrote a little note explaining what the cookies were and stuffed them in the bottom of the packages (because I forgot to put them inside!) and raced out the door to the post office.  I do believe, thinking back on it now, that I didn't even put my blog name down.  I hope they didn't really like them, because they'll never find the recipe now!

When I got back home I reread the email I had received regarding the rules and realized in my haste I had forgotten to take pictures of the cookies, even with the kind reminder included.  I had one measly cookie left.  I brought the cookie around my house and placed it in front, on top of and behind some inanimate objects (and one living one.)  Sad but true.  I wasn't about to make another batch, I was cookie-d out.  For the day of course, no longer!

A few days later the mailman knocked on my door, he handed me two packages and ran off down the driveway.  Realizing what they were I squealed, did a happy dance and ran off to tell everyone about my gifts!  I slashed open the packages nearly impaling the beautifully wrapped boxes inside.  I took a quick picture and stuffed one of each cookie in my mouth.  Each cookie, while both very different, were fan-freakin-tastic!  I want to thank the two ladies who sent me these cookies profusely.  They were perfect, I've been eating them all week.  To the third gifter who's cookies have yet to come, I thank you in advance, I'm sure yours will be great too.
Sugar Swirl Cookies
Toasted Sesame Tahini Cookies
Gingerbread Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate and gingerbread.  I'll bet you didn't know they'd go so well together.  Did ya?  Did ya?  Every time I eat one they kinda blow my mind and I've been eating them for a few Christmases now!  They're a teeny bit crunchy from the sugar coating, super chewy and uniquely complex with the ginger and chocolate totally coming out together.  My favourite Christmas cookie this year.

1 cup dark chocolate (or semi-sweet in necessary) chunks, chopped
180 g (1 1/2 cup) all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
113 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
100 g (1/2 cup packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp boiling water
white sugar, for rolling

In a medium bowl sift flour, spices, cocoa and salt.  Set some water on the stove to boil.

In a mixing bowl cream butter on medium-high speed for three minutes until it is white and very creamy.  Add brown sugar, mixing until combined.  Pour in molasses and mix again until combined, scraping bowl as required.

In a small bowl mix together baking soda and boiling water.  Into the butter/sugar mixture beat in half of the flour, then all of the baking soda/water and finally the remainder of the flour.  Mix in the chocolate chunks, (the batter will be very stiff) and proceed to dump out the contents of the bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Pat into a one inch thick rectangle, wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.  Cut the dough into 24 pieces.  In the palms of your hands roll each piece into a ball and coat with sugar.  Place 8 cookies per sheet, no more as they spread a bit and smoosh down slightly with your hand.  Place the extra dough back in the fridge while it waits it's turn to bake.  Bake cookies 14-16 minutes, until the tops crack slightly.  Rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack.


  1. I am so happy you liked them and that they survived the trip. The woman at Canada Post was quite adamant that we squash them into an envelope rather than another box. I was a bit worried.

    And those gingerbread chocolate cookies sound delicious. I wonder what a similar combination of ingredients in a quick bread would be like? Mmmm. Only one way to find out!

  2. Did you eat that last cookie after its journey around your house and being on top of Butter's head? I would have!
    PS Butter is the perfect name for a food blogger's dog.

  3. Thank you for these cookies! We have really enjoyed them. There are a few left that we squirrelled away in the freezer to save for an assortment at Christmas. :)

  4. I'm your third cookie sender! I'm not sure what happened. One of my three recipients posted that they received their cookies so I hope yours are just stuck somewhere along the way. Hope they arrive soon.

    The recipe you made looks delicious! I'll have to try them.