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Baking up a Storm: 10 Quick and Easy Ideas for Your Next Cookie Swap

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Dec 16, 2013 2:24 PM
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Photo by Hellebardius on Flickr

Don't want to bake 10 kinds of cookies? Hold a swap with your friends and enjoy the fruits of everyone's labor!

December's here and time is slipping quickly from your grasp as you fly right into the eye of the holiday season. Instead of fighting the clock to get the next to-do item off your list, embrace each of your tasks as traditions and savor each minute.

Baking cookies is a long-practiced past time that really focuses on spending time with loved ones by sharing in the kitchen experience. And yet, your friends and family want to participate in cookie swaps each year, which leaves you frazzled to bake in time for each event. How do you enjoy a holiday tradition while ensuring you are doing it efficiently?

Begin baking up a storm with these 10 simple, yet essential cookie recipes that will leave you feeling satisfied and stress-free this holiday season.

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sour Cherries

Tap into your taste buds and relish in the decadence of this devilishly dark recipe. These cookies are guaranteed to muster a pleasant "mmm" of indulgence from your guests as they bite into the rich, dark chocolate base with a burst of tart cherry bits. This recipe is perfect for a cookie swap. In three easy steps, you will have three dozen of these delicious treats. Scrumptious and time-saving? Talk about the best of both worlds.

Spritz Cookies

A traditional holiday favorite, these cookies appear intricate and complicated, but the beauty of these sugary sweets lies in how easy they are to make, so long as you have the right tools and ingredients.

With some red and green food coloring and a cookie press, you can make beautiful creations that are as impressive as those seen in a bakery. Simply sprinkle a little glam and glitz to make the cookies really sparkle. Try sprinkling them with colored sugar, or glazing the baked cookies with a simple fruit or vanilla glaze to make them shiny. Pack several colors of dough into your cookie press to get mottled cookies!

Sugar Cookies

Who can resist the decorative fun of sugar cookies? Even though you may be pressed for time, this is a simple way to make memories in the kitchen. Pick your favorite cookie cutters to shape the cookies and have fun adding as much flare as you want after baking. Anything goes - try icing, candies, sprinkles, confectionery pearls, and even edible gold dust, like in the picture at right!

This year, "Ugly Sweater" cookies are very popular. So channel your inner Bill Cosby and get creative!

Italian Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

For a simple, yet refined taste, look no further than the Italians for their elegant, delightful desserts. The pop of lemon gives the cookie a little zest to its otherwise sugary base, but the magic lies in its surprising ingredient, ricotta cheese. While the Italians are known for incorporating this into many of their dishes, its addition in this recipe makes this cookie truly unique.

Snickerdoodles

Pair these sweet, doughy morsels with milk and you have instant perfection. Originating in Germany, many say that the name, "Snickerdoodle," was a mispronunciation of the German pastry, "Schneckennudeln," commonly known as "snail noodles." However, others argue that the name was the product of a silly New England tradition to come up with funny cookie names. Nevertheless, once baked, the smell of sweet cinnamon will radiate from their leavened surfaces, making this cookie irresistible.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

If you're ever feeling nostalgic and want to enjoy cookies like grandma used to make, turn to these old-fashioned treats. Jam Thumbprint cookies are such a great way to incorporate some homemade ingredients, such as the strawberry or peach jam that you've been canning since summer. (Or perhaps plum jam, as shown here!) The best part? Pretty much any variety of jam will work, so if you love the tartness of rhubarb jam or the spiciness of hot pepper jam, go for it!

Unfortunately, using natural fruit doesn't make these babies healthy, but they sure are finger-licking good!

Hershey’s Kisses Candy Cane Blossom Cookies

Since 1907, Hershey's famous kisses have been added to bakery delights in homes around the world. Without a doubt, one of the most popular cookies you see during the holiday season just happens to be Hershey’s Kisses Peanut Butter Blossoms. However, put a new spin on the tradition, and use Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses to give a cool, peppermint rush. Add some green and red sprinkles to make these creations extra festive.

Peanut Butter Cookies

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Photo by Jill Siegrist

Did you know that this cookie became popular as a result of replacing cotton crops with peanuts when boll weevils began destroying too much cotton? A gentleman named George Washington Carver created peanut recipes to showcase the crop's versatility, and by 1920, peanut butter was finally added to American household cookbooks. It's still eyed a little critically in some other countries though; while I was studying abroad in Paris, the only place I could find peanut butter was in an international grocery store, and it was pricey!

Later, Pillsbury popularized the trademark fork-press design of these cookies in the 1930s. With that much history, this could make for a neat infographic that a business with a great inbound marketing company would use as an advertising strategy.

Crescent Cake Cookies

Picture picking up one of these delicate, sugary cookies and watching the powdered sugar float off your fingertips like newly fallen snow. Beautiful in design with a half-moon shape, these cookies are very simple to make. By using basic ingredients and a touch of smooth almond extract, you'll be licking your fingers clean, playing in the fresh powder. Craving summer? Add some tropical flavor like dried pineapple or coconut flakes for some island fun.

Holly Cookies

If you're pressed for time and don't have access to an oven, these whimsical, no-bake holly leaves are the perfect solution. Fiddle with ooey-gooey marshmallow and corn flakes to create little holly shapes. Add some red, cinnamon candies to act as holly berries and serve when cooled. Instant success.

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Photo by Petr Kosina

At the end of the day, remember that cookie swaps are a part of the holiday fun. If your creation doesn't come out quite right, don't fret and know that it's the thought that counts. Some of the best tasting cookies are some of the ugliest. However, rest assured that with these 10 easy recipes, you'll be looking like a cookie pro in no time.

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