Cookie swaps are really just an excuse to party and eat cookies. Since we like both of those things, we hosted one at headquarters recently. Take a look at 19 of the treats that were swapped: chocolate-chip cookies (with and without whiskey), brookies (brownie-cookies), gingerbread cut-outs (a given) and some critters (mice with almond ears and gingerbread Dumplings).
"When I was home for Thanksgiving, I copied down a bunch of my mom's cookie recipes. These are one of my sister's favorites." —Rachel Heise Bolten, SE intern
Swedish Christmas Cookies
"Another recipe borrowed from my mom, this one dating back to her childhood. I'm not sure what makes these cookies 'Swedish.'" —Rachel Heise Bolten, SE intern
Coconut Macaroons with Salted Caramel
"The cookie part of this recipe is very closely adapted from Joanne Chang's new Flour cookbook (the subtitle, "Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery and Cafe," is totally legit—the recipes are incredible and the bakery is too, as any Bostonian will attest!). At the bakery, Chang's version is mammoth—eating two is a challenge—so I prefer to make mine smaller. The Salted Caramel (based on a recipe from Food & Wine) was meant to replicate a particularly memorable flavor combo I'd tried recently, and is otherwise my own addition to what's an already fabulous recipe." —Nikki Goldstein, SE Gadgets columnist
Baked by SE intern Hannah Smith-Drelich. These are adapted from Martha Stewart Magazine Holiday Cookies 2010.
Chocolate Eggnog Cookies
"Mrs. Fields meets Stephin Merritt." —Liz Clayton, SENY Coffee Chronicles columnist
Egg Nog Fudge with White Chocolate and Walnuts
"This creamy, buttery fudge is flavored with vanilla and nutmeg and spiked up with bourbon and dark rum. Toasted walnuts add a bit of crunch. It tastes exactly like real eggnog, but in a condensed, bite-sized version." —Lucy Baker, SE Edible DIY columnist
"Biscochitos are a traditional New Mexican holiday cookie; a subtly porky confection made from lard, with anise seeds and brandy or rum. In December, biscochitos comprise maybe thirty percent of the diet of the average New Mexican." —Chichi Wang, SE Nasty Bits columnist
Spicy Gingerbread Cut-Outs
"Here's my recipe! It's now mine, as it's been adapted quite a bit. I picked it because nothing tastes more like the holidays than gingerbread to me, and I love decorating cookies. It's like a coloring book you can eat!" —Laurel Randolph, SE ad sales
Russian Tea Cakes
These were baked by Natalie Podrazik, SE tech support and good pal.
Traditional Jewish Mandelbrot (Mandel Bread)
"Family recipes aren't as set in stone as we all like to think. Like for example, this mandel bread. I called my mom for the recipe, which I'd attributed to my Grandma Ruth, only to find out that my mom had started making Nick Malgieri's recipe years ago. So, here is our new family recipe for mandel bread. Thanks to Mom, Grandma, and Nick." —Ben Fishner, SENY Apps Only columnist
Ginger Spiced Molasses Sugar Cookies
Baked by former SE intern Katie Quinn, who got the recipe from Food52.
Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
"I was going to make the Turtle Cookies from this same 2010 issue of a Cook's Illustrated, but the whoopies were much less work and seemed more festive. The peanut butter filling was inspired by my local Foodtown market, which for some appalling reason doesn't have marshmallow Fluff—the base for the filling in the original recipe." —Liz Gutman, SE chocolate columnist
Ginger Sandwich Cookies
"I loved the idea of sandwiching puckery lemon cream between classic gingersnap cookies. The recipe is from Food and Wine. I think using freshly grated ginger makes all the difference." —Tressa Eaton, former SE intern
Double Chocolate Icebox Cookies with Aji and Chipotle
"These are intense little cookies. They've got two forms of chocolate, two layers of chile, and a fair amount of salt." —Max Falkowitz, SE Spice Hunting columnist
Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
"I like my cookies like I like my burgers: straight up." —Matt Jacobs, FoSE
Cinnamon Raisin Rugelach
"Back in 1996 I went to a rugelach making class at the Eldridge Street Synagogue led by Herb Schon, proprietor of Grandma's Recipe Rugelach. He told the story of how he started his business: when he was recuperating from a broken limb, some friends brought him some rugelach. He thought "my grandma used to make this - I wonder if I can find the recipe." He tracked down the recipe and made a batch, which he consumed in one sitting. He made another batch for his friends, who told him he should go into business baking rugelach, which is exactly what he did. The recipe reflects that his grandmother, who did all the family cooking, was relegated by her American-born daughters at Thanksgiving to making just a little something sweet. In addition to the traditional cinnamon, raisins and nuts, there is also whole-berry cranberry sauce, which was around at Thanksgiving and which cuts some of the sweetness. I use pecans rather than the traditional walnuts because my family in Texas used to grow pecans, and I think they make pretty much anything better." —Christopher Stephens, Slice intern
Double-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
"The recipe is adapted from this Epicurious one for Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies. My version is Double-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (I left out the white chocolate chips and skipped the chocolate drizzle on top). I also doubled the salt. I chose this recipe because I love cranberries and oats, and everyone else loves chocolate." —Alaina Browne, SE general manager
"I didn't get the licorice tails (too lazy) and substituted vanilla extract for almond because I prefer vanilla. I made them because they were TOO CUTE not to make!!! :D"—Christine Tsai, SE web developer and fabulous Cookie Swap photographer
Since Cookie Swap eve fell on the same night as our prime rib tasting, my baking time was limited. I didn't get home until after 11 p.m. and, gulp, I did it. I used a mix. The horror! But...nobody seemed to notice because they were Dumpling-shaped. [Note: I did make the cookie cutter shape from scratch.]
Nobody even really asked about the recipe though, except our intern Carly who picked up on the nutty, spelt-like texture. I used Hodgson Mill's whole wheat gingerbread mix. They came out, fittingly enough, a dog biscuit texture. They weren't anything to write home about but, bottom line again, Dumpling-shaped!
The color was off—he's more of a sandy shade, not this dark molasses-brown—but they accurately portrayed his occasional lazy eye (with off-centered chocolate chips), and floppy ears (some featuring his famous one-ear-up-one-ear-down phase of yore). —Erin Zimmer, SE editor