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Cookie Swap

Cookie swaps have been popular for years, providing a great opportunity for busy cooks to enjoy many different varieties of goodies for the holidays while making only one kind themselves. Bake three dozen of your favorite cookies and invite as many friends as you like. Everyone chooses three dozen of the different varieties and your family will think you baked for weeks. Here are a few of my favorites.

SPRINGERLE
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup anise seed

Recipes for springerle call for molds, but you can cut yours into squares and enjoy the same great cookie. Beat eggs in large mixing bowl until very light. Add sugar and butter; cream together until light and fluffy. In another bowl, mix or sift together baking powder, salt, and flour, then combine into bowl with egg mixture. Knead dough until smooth and add more flour if necessary to get a smooth dough. Cover and allow the ball of dough to chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Roll out onto lightly floured surface to 1/3-inch thickness. Cut into 1-1/2-inch squares. If you have a springerle mold, roll out a second time with mold; trim cookie around mold, removing cookie carefully. Sprinkle anise seed on clean, dry dish towel and place cookies on the seeds. Allow to stand overnight to dry but do not cover. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in preheated 325°oven on a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Cool completely and store in airtight tins. The anise flavor intensifies the longer they are stored.

LEMON BARS
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Dash of salt
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350° (325° if using a glass baking dish). Cream butter, 1-1/2 cups flour, and sugar in a mixing bowl using a low to medium speed. In a 13x9x2-inch pan, pat the mixture into a crust. Bake 15 to 18 minutes. Beat together the remaining ingredients, except powdered sugar, and pour over crust. Bake an additional 25 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into approximately 2×2-inch squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 2 dozen.

PECAN, MAPLE DATE COOKIES
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1-1/2 cups maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add pecans and dates and mix well. In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar; gradually add in maple syrup, vanilla, and eggs. Combine with the flour mixture until well-blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 5 dozen.

CANNOLI COOKIES
Filling
4-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped coarsely

Pastry Tubes
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup cold water
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 egg white, slightly beaten
Cooking oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar

Combine ricotta, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in chocolate pieces. Cover and chill. Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly, the size of peas. Combine eggs, water, and vinegar. Add to flour mixture. Stir until dough forms a ball. Divide in half and roll each on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into ovals 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. Don’t try to roll leftover trimmings. Begin with long side and roll dough loosely on metal cannoli tubes. Moisten overlapping dough with egg white and press gently to seal. Fry in 375° oil for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. When cool, remove cannoli from tubes. Continue cooling. One hour before serving, fill cones using a decorator’s bag (or plastic bag with corner snipped off) and squeeze cheese into tubes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 20.

Coming Next Month: Homemade food gifts

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