It’s the Thrilla ‘n Manilla and a UFC title match wrapped in cookie dough. Seemingly sweet gatherings of nice women getting together, ensconced (“ensconced” — good word) in holiday themed applique sweaters, sharing their holiday treat best. What it really is is a no holds barred, “don’t go bringin’ yo dull chocolate chip wannabes, them ain’t gingerbread men, them gingerbread punks” holiday baking smackdown.
I don’t know who invented the cookie exchange, but I’m guessing it was a married guy who likes cookies. Somehow he managed to plant this idea in society and the world is a better place.
Thank you, unknown bro.
It’s the most brilliant cookie related idea ever. To the uninitiated, here’s how it goes down. Your bride makes cookies, usually one dozen for each wife in the group. Let’s say there are six women gathering, so she makes six dozen. They get together. Each participant gets a dozen of each other participant’s cookies, hence the term exchange. Then they go home and you and the offspring feast.
Other than a few prehistoric paintings on caves in France, the first siting of a cookie exchange was in 1963
“A Party Idea. A popular once-a-year party is the Christmas cooky swap party. Friends and neighbors gather, each bringing one dozen of her holiday specialty for each woman at the party. Cookies are set out to sample and admire and coffee is served. Afterward each one takes home a wonderful variety of festive cookies.” —Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, facsimile reprint of 1963 edition [Hungry Minds:New York] 2002 (p. 37)
Just brilliant. This is up there with the chili sundae and the corn dog for culinary brilliance.
But like most things in life…
There’s the wrong way and the Old School way.
A few tips to do it up right
#1 Cookies must be homemade
“Put down the tube of cookie dough. Not gonna fly. You’re in the Big Show now.” Must be made from scratch. If you can’t bake cookies because of some cookie emergency — a term which is only appropriate in the context of a cookie exchange — you must go to a bakery and buy some top shelf substitutes. Still hold your head in shame, but you will not be asked to leave the tribe.
#2 As the group develops, assign people to bring their A-game recipe
The Smokin’ Hot Wife is the World Cookie Exchange Federation Champion in the Oatmeal Blueberry division. “So good they have a street value.” As I type this she’s making up a batch for a cookie exchange this evening. I, because I am a giant of self-sacrifice and giving, willingly ate several. Quality control. In her cookie exchange she is the go-to Mom for Oatmeal Blueberry and Pizzelles.
#2a Classic standards are OK, but you’ve gotta bring something special to it.
“What, is this? The standard peanut butter thumbprint with the Hershey’s kiss on top? You bringing that up in MY house? Wait, what’s that flavor up in the peanut butter… that’s something different… ahhh, you got me! Keep it comin’. Nice work.”
#3 Account for cookie size in the number of cookies
Smaller cookies mean more cookies. That’s in II Hezekiah 4:16
#4 Men can participate
While I happily sit back and let the Smokin’ Hot Wife do all the work, I must acknowledge men eat cookies so they can bake them, too. This is especially true if it is a workplace centered cookie exchange. I know some of you may feel the urge to pee in a territorial circle, protecting your macho manliness from the thought of baking and sharing a few cookies with coworkers. Well, older, been around more, more cattle than hat Old School men will just rub our grizzled chins at you as we chuckle, remembering how we were when much younger. Reminds me of last January. An Old School brother busted out some brownies on the campfire while leading us in a camping trip in 15 F degree weather. No one doubted his bonafides for baking. Instead, we just grubbed out and smiled. You’d do well to follow his example.
The Smokin’ Hot Wife’s Oatmeal Blueberry Cookie Recipe
1 1/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups dried blueberries (or other dried fruit)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the quick oats and dried fruit. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the unprepared cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.