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
Mayan Chocolate Sparklers
Butter Pecan Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Aimee's Spice Snaps
Double Chocolate Cookies
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
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.