Save Time at Christmas With a Christmas Cookie Exchange

By: Karen Ciancio

The weeks leading up to Christmas are so busy. You want to bake a variety of Christmas cookies, squares and goodies, but where do you find the time?

The answer may be in organizing a small Christmas cookie exchange. Here is how it works -

Having a variety of holiday treats on hand means baking at least 6 or 8 recipes. Instead, gather together a group of 4 to 6 people who are each willing to make a large batch of 1 or 2 recipes.

If 4 people each make a large batch of 2 recipes and share them with the other 3 bakers, each person will have a variety of 8 different holiday treats for family and friends. It works best if each person ends up with at least a dozen pieces of each recipe. Getting together to divide up the treats can be a fun time too.

Here are three large batch recipes that are perfect for sharing with members of your Christmas cookie exchange group.

Decadent Truffles

1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light rum
2 teaspoons vanilla
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
16 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Finely chopped nuts and assorted sprinkles
1/4 cup (or more) cooca powder

Heat cream, sugar, salt, rum and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot.

Remove from heat. Add chocolates, stirring until melted (return pan to low heat if necessary). Pour into a shallow dish.

Cover and refrigerate until just firm, about 1 hour.
Shape the mixture into 1 1/4" balls. Rolls balls in nuts, sprinkles or cocoa powder to cover.

Refrigerate truffles until firm, about 1 hour.

Note: If your kitchen is very warm, keep a portion of the truffle mixture chilled as you shape and roll balls.

Makes 6 dozen truffles

Sugar Cookie Wreathes

1 package Sugar Cookie Mix
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon water
Green food coloring
Candied or maraschino cherry pieces, chopped

Preheat oven to 375?F.

Combine cookie mix, egg, oil and water in a large bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended. Tint dough with green good coloring. Stir until desired color.

Form into balls the size of miniature marshmallows.
For each wreathe, arrange 9 or 10 balls with sides touching into a ring and place 2" apart, on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with fingers. Place small pieces of candied cherry on the center of each ball.

Bake for 5-7 minutes or until set but not browned. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets, then remove to cooling racks.
Cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Chunky Butter Christmas Cookies

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned or quick oats, uncooked
1 package (10 ounces) vanilla milk chips
1 cup flaked coconut
1 jar (3 1/2 ounces) macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375?F.

Beat butter and brown sugar together in large bowl until light and fluffy. Blend in sour cream, egg and vanilla.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in oats, vanilla milk chips, coconut and nuts.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough, 2" apart, onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute then remove to cooling rack and cool completely.

Makes 5 dozen cookies

If you would like to have a variety of holiday cookies and treats on hand, but are short of time, consider the benefits of a Christmas cookie exchange for a more relaxed, and tasty, holiday season.

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