Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cookies and Company

If your December "To Do" list is anything like mine, you’ll find yourself scratching your head and wondering how you can possibly get everything done in the allotted time. Everywhere you look there is a countdown to Christmas, taunting you and reminding you that you are going to have to exercise some super powers to wrap up your list.

However, readers of Under the High Chair may remember last year’s cookie swap, which presented my sweet-toothed friends a fun, practical, and time-saving way to shorten their long list of baking and freezing by coming together to exchange baked goods. Just prepare one kind of cookie in massive quantities, bring them to the swap, and leave with an beautiful assortment of holiday baking worthy of your finest tea tray, like this GQ gingerbread man.

Last year's exchange was such a hit, we knew we had to do it again; this year the bar was set even higher...

Hardly anyone declined the invitation and on a chilly Sunday afternoon, cars lined the snowbanks along our quiet street and ten girls (not to mention a journalist and photographer from Montreal's major English newspaper, but we'll get to that) swarmed my kitchen, burdening my kitchen table with armloads of cookies. We did a rough estimate and figured we probably had about 1200 cookies and squares: enough to make the pulse quicken of any foodie or sweet-lover.

The menu was indeed impressive:

Grandma Fisher's Sandwich Cookies
Cranberry, Pecan and White Chocolate Cookies
Marshmallow Squares
Mayan Chocolate Sparklers

Raspberry Swirls
Butter Pecan Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Aimee's Spice Snaps
Noir Bars
Double Chocolate Cookies
Gingerbread Men

While we valiantly did our best to sample all the cookies brought (only a few were successful), the charming Susan Schwartz from the Montreal Gazette quizzed us on the recipe to a winning cookie swap, and a bona fide photographer (not a wannabe like me) documented the event and the pretty cookies.

You can read her kind and enjoyable article here and file away the 6 or 7 cookie recipes included on the same page for your future use. They are all tried and true and worthy of your holiday baking repertoire.

Little Noah's picture made it into the newspaper, and he looks quite adorable, if a little sleepy, as he had just woken up from his afternoon nap.
If only we could all wake up more often to a warm home brimming with fresh, homemade cookies, what a happier place the world would be!

Pecan Butter Cookies
Makes about 50 cookies

This recipe comes from my friend Liz Leon, a Montreal pastry chef and super mom of twin toddlers.

1 cup (250 mL) pecans
1/2 pound (225 g) butter, softened
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) icing sugar
1 teaspoon (5mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour

Toast pecans carefully in a non-stick frying pan, tossing constantly so they don’t burn. Cool completely, then finely chop.
Beat together butter, salt, icing sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add the pecans gradually. Then sift the flour over the mixture and stir to blend well together. Roll into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls and place them on a cookie sheet about an inch (2.5 cm) apart. Press a half a pecan into the center a bit with thumb to flatten a bit.
Bake at 350F (180 C) for 12 to 15 minutes.
Once cookies are out of the oven, let them stand until they become slightly firm. Then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Coat with icing sugar.


Peter M said...

Aimee, I'm on the 401 right now to come get me some of those cookies...good job!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I'd have to take the Trans Canada Hwy to Montreal to get some of your cookies Aimee...wink...wink. We did a cookie exchange from work a few years in a row, it just got bigger and bigger until we were making 10 dozen cookies.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

What a great idea! Sounds like a resounding success and what a result with the journalist and the phototgrapher. Wish I'd been there.

Unknown said...

Hi Aimee,

I've been reading your blog for a while now and I'm addicted. I check it often. You have such a culinary flair. And your photos are amazing; you're too modest.

I love the idea of a cookie swap. I'm definitely going to do it next year. All the cookies and squares look so yummy.

kickpleat said...

wow, i'm jealous of all that cookie baking and i love the idea of an exchange! i'm getting my start on the holidays this afternoon and those cookies look amazing.

Patricia Scarpin said...

That cookie swap party is something I would love to take part in!

Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee,

What a great article and party! How does one get an invite to your parties? They look like so much fun. Thanks for your note on my renos blog. They are almost completed.

I'm doing a cookie swap with my gal pals and we have all determined that this year was tricky baking with our one and half year olds. They're always trying to swipe dough or cookies!!!

Such an nice blog to read. Thank you!

Aimée said...

Hi Peter- I hope you are bringing something to barter with!

Hi Valli- So you know already how much fun a swap can be.

Hi Amanda- I actually had a nightmare that it would be a big bore. Those darn pregnancy dreams!

Hi Lisa- Thanks for reading! Good to have you around. G/L with your swap...but why wait 'til next year?

Hi Kickpleat- I hope I have inspired you for your own baking. Have fun!!

Hi Patricia- And we would have loved anything you would have contributed...

Hi missweb- Thank you! Have fun with your cookie swap! Don't give up on baking with your toddler- it gets better, just set the boundaries now.

dina (Lucas' mom) said...

Aimee, I saw the article in the paper! How exciting!
I would love to join your swap next year if there is room...

test it comm said...

What a great list of cookies! The pecan butter cookies look good. I really need to start baking some holiday treats.

Sylvia said...

I was thionking in bake some cookies this week...and soon I findyour bog. You had a great idea and I wold to participate.

Aimée said...

Hi Dina- Sounds like a great idea! I'll keep you posted when I start planning my jam, jelly and preserves swap, how about that?

Hi Kevin- Hopefully you are inspired now! Happy baking.

Hi Sylvia- Welcome to Under the High Chair! Thanks for stopping by and happy cookie baking!

Shelley said...

I just found your blog and its wonderful. I'm going to add you to my blog roll.

dina (Lucas' mom) said...

Aimee -- sounds great!
Fyi, I made the pecan cookies for a party this weekend and they were a huge hit!

Cakespy said...

Wow, wow, wow. I want to go home and make cookies...NOW! Or come over and dig into your stash. :-)

jazzphiles said...

What a stunning display of cookies - and cozy place to exchange them. Wish I could have shared that time with you, A!

David Hall said...

Just reading this with a big mug of tea, and suddenly, my tea seems to wet without one of these lovely looking cookies, AAARGH!!

Chibog in Chief said...

hey aimee, hey just discovered your site thru Amanda's..i couldnt resist but to stop by and marvel at all those christmas is my favorite season of the year..the only time i get to enjoy all those yummy goodies without thinking twice of all the calories i will accumulate after..:-) expect to see me often coz im smitten by your "cooking powers"

Anonymous said...

my mom has been doing a cookie swap with her craft group for years and I've always loved the results! It's so fun to try everyone elses recipes.

Aimée said...

Hi Artsy- Welcome to Under the High Chair! We hope to see you around more often. Thanks for reading!

Hi Dina- Way to go with the cookies!You have to try the Mayan Sparklers (recipe in Gazette).

Hi Cakespy- You better get over here fast. My 'stash' is dwindling at a rapid rate. Dare I blame the pregnancy?

Hi Jazz- Hope Haidi bakes up a storm for you this year.:) Wish you were here too.

Hi David- Sorry to have upset your lovely teatime...thanks for dropping by, though!

Hi dhangit- So nice to make your acquaintance! You have a charming blog of your own. Thanks for dropping by; you are most warmly welcome.

Hi lindsey- It's interesting to see what people come up with, isn't it?


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