Virtual Cookie Swap & Giveaway!

AND GIVEAWAY!
The holidays are coming and it’s always such an exciting time of the year for me.  Besides teaching  culinary classes for adults and children and going to holiday gatherings I also bake A LOT, and share my baked goods for gifts or with whomever I can.
Years ago, I heard of something called a “cookie exchange or swap”.  Of course I had no idea what this was, nor had I ever been to one, let alone given one.

A cookie exchange is where you invite a group of friends, relatives, and neighbors over to your house to exchange homemade cookies or even bar cookies, etc.  Every person brings anywhere from one to six dozen of one type of cookie.  The cookies are laid out on the dining room table and exchanged.  The result is that everyone goes home with an assortment of one – six dozen different types of cookies (based on the number brought).  The recipes are also swapped, so that if you take home a new cookie that you really like, you will be able to make it yourself.  The cookie party can be given at any time during the year; however, most cookie exchange parties occur in December.
I’ve been researching information about hosting a cookie exchange and found that the Cookie Exchange Queen is a woman by the name of Robin Olsen who has written a book, has a website and newsletter with everything you’d ever want to know on the topic.  Since I signed up for it last year she reminded me a couple of weeks ago to get in gear and get my invitations sent out.
Realizing that I have far too much going on in the next couple of months to try and pull one together I decided to host a “Virtual Cookie Swap” on my blog.  Here all my family, friends, bloggers friends, and anyone out in cyberspace can visit.  Since there’s plenty of room for everyone, we can all share our favorite cookie or bar recipes.
In addition, I have a fabulous giveaway to go along with my “Virtual Cookie Swap”.  Thanks to Kuhn Rikon they’ve been nice enough to offer one lucky guest that attends my cookie swap and shares a recipe the chance to win a Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Cookie Press.  If you don’t have one, well, you don’t want to be without this for the holidays. Watch these videos to see all that you can do with this wonderful tool!
So that everyone can be a part of my first “virtual cookie swap” here’s what you need to know:
Deadline for all recipe submissions is November 14th, 2011 when a winner for the Kuhn Rikon Cookie Press with be selected at random.
  1. Post your recipe in the comments section  and if you have a photo post that too.  If you have a cookie recipe that you’ve already posted on your blog feel free to provide the link to that if you prefer.  Tell us why you’ve selected the recipe you’re sharing.
  2. Share in the comments section why you’d like to win the Kuhn Rikon cookie press and “like” the Kuhn Rikon facebook page.
  3. Like the “At Home with Vicki Bensinger” facebook page, and place this widget
on your blog using this link (https://www.vickibensinger.com/2011/10/virtual-cookie-swap-giveaway.html), so others can join in on the virtual cookie swap fun as well.
     4. The winner of the Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Cookie Press will be selected at random on November 14th, 2011.  Be sure when you post your comments that you leave your contact information in the event you win.
Note: If you would like to get a PDF of all the recipes with photos submitted to my first annual Virtual Cookie Swap then please email me your recipe at: virtualcookieswap@gmail.com   Be sure when you email your recipe that you:
  • enter your first name and last initial or blog name if you prefer
  • city and state where you live
  • email address so that I can send you a copy of the pdf when it’s done (your email address will not be given out)
  • Name of your recipe, plus a full list of ingredients and instructions along with # of cookies it makes
  • photo of the recipe if you have one.
  • share any information that you can about why you selected this recipe (you can copy and paste what you posted in the comments section of my blog)
Oops!  I almost forgot to post my favorite cookie for the holidays, “Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies”.  I posted this recipe back in December of 2009.
The recipe can be found here.
Thank you all ahead of time for taking part in my first “Virtual Cookie Swap”.  I’m so excited that I’m finally having one.  Maybe next year I’ll actually be able to host it in my home.  In the meantime, share your recipes, photos and stories.  Hopefully we’ll all have lots of fun, and great cookies and bars to make for family and friends this holiday 2011.
The Winner of the Virtual Cookie Swap Kuhn Rikon Cookie Press (selected at Random) is #18 – Jill, from DulceDough. 
Congratulations Jill.  Please contact me at vkb2@hotmail.com.
I hope everyone has a wonderful time baking all these fantastic holiday treats!

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31 comments

  1. I love cookies. This sounds like a really fun holiday event!

  2. Seven Layer Cookies
    Deep almond flavor and sophisticated apricot and pure chocolate accents give these cookies a cosmopolitan air.
    Special equipment: a heavy-duty stand mixer; a small offset spatula
    Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
    4 large eggs, separated
    1 cup sugar
    1 (8-oz) can almond paste
    2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
    1 teaspoon almond extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    25 drops red food coloring
    25 drops green food coloring
    1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
    7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
    Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degree F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends (see cooks note ), then butter paper.
    Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another
    bowl.
    Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale
    and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and
    mix until just combined.
    Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in
    remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
    Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food
    coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside.
    Chill green batter, covered. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly
    with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).
    Bake red layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook.)
    Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean
    pan, then line with wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake
    white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green
    batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as
    above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to
    cool.
    When all layers are cool, invert green onto a wax-paper-lined large baking
    sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white
    on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert
    red layer on top of white layer and discard wax paper.
    Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8
    hours.
    Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate
    in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering
    water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water.
    Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half
    of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate
    is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place
    another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper.
    Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
    Cut lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies.
    Cooks’ note:
    Here’s a helpful tip — forget this whole parchment overhang business and just purchase three disposable foil cake pans, 12 x 8 inches (it’s a standard size).
    Line the bottoms with parchment, and then just spread the batter into each of
    those — much easier, and you can bake all three pans at once. Cookies keep,
    layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks.

    I would love the Kuhn Rikon Press, I enjoy making cutout cookies, and this would make it much easier.

  3. What a fabulous idea. I think this could be adapted for other things like a pot-luck theme dinners and then sharing the wonderful recipes. We would have to survive this month first with our daily recipes before thinking of anything else. It is taking up a fair bit of our time but it’s all in good fun and for a good cause too.

  4. OMG, someone already posted a recipe up on here! This is such a brilliant idea, Vicki… a Virtual Cookie Swap while on my cookie-baking roll, just count me in!

  5. @Moe – thank you for posting your recipe. It looks delicious!!!

    @Angie, ChopinandMySaucepan, Foodiva – I look forward to seeing your cookie recipes posted.

    Thanks for all your comments. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has to share!

  6. Brilliant idea on swapping recipes, well done.

  7. What a fabulous idea! I’ve done everything except come up with the perfect recipe to share…so I’ll be back!

    PS…I usually go to 2 holiday cookie exchanges plus bake cookies and make candy for my friends and neighbors. I need NEW ideas so I look forward to seeing all the entries 🙂

  8. Hi Vicki! I love it! Such fun! Mine is a cookie I already baked and blogged about, but I’ll post the recipe here…. The reason I selected this one is this one just HAD to be made (remember the 3am wake-up to make them?). That and they are SO good! Here you go:

    Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Caramel Cookies

    Adapted from the 1946 Edition – Joy of Cooking

    Ingredients

    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 egg
    1 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
    1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
    1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
    12 caramels cut into small pieces

    Directions

    Cream together sugars and butter. Add egg and mix
    Add peanut butter and mix
    Add salt and baking soda, mix
    Add flour and mix well.
    Add vanilla and mix
    Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and caramels
    Place by rounded teaspoons on a baking sheet** and bake at 375 for 15 minutes

    **Note** The original directions call for a greased baking sheet. I didn’t do this and it turned out fine – but if your baking sheet sticks, grease or use a silpat

    Thanks!

  9. I would love the cookie press because – believe it or not – I’ve never had one and they make delicious cookies! (thanks for the giveaway, Vicki!) I’ve also liked Kuhn Rikon’s page!

  10. I’ve also liked your page! I didn’t realize you had one…Yay!

  11. Here is my selection:

    Caramel Brownies…adapted from The Pastry Queen via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

    1 cup (2 sticks) butter
    12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    4 eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    1 1/4 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    14 ounce bag of caramels, unwrapped
    1/3 cup heavy cream

    Preheat oven to 350º. Line 9 x 13 pan with non-stick foil or regular foil sprayed with cooking spray.

    Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, using 30 second increments, stirring each time till smooth. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla and whisk till well incorporated. Stir in flour and salt.

    Spread half the batter over bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

    Melt caramels and cream in a microwave safe bowl, using 30 second increments, checking and stirring each time till smooth. While still warm, pour caramel over the top of the brownies and spread to cover. If caramel has cooled, gently reheat in the microwave. Top with remaining brownie batter by dropping tablespoons of batter across the caramel, then spread to edges. If batter has become stiff, gently reheat in microwave. Sprinkle top of brownies with chocolate chips and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

    Allow to cool completely, then use foil to remove brownies from pan. Cut and serve.

  12. I like the Kuhn Rikon FB page~

  13. I already like your FB page~

  14. @Ann – Thank you for submitting your recipe. These cookies sound amazing! With peanut butter, coconut and caramel these have to be a winner!

    @Lizzy – Thank you as well for submitting your recipe, your brownies sounds nice and gooey. I have the Pastry Queen, it’s a great book. I haven’t tried this recipe yet but now I will!

  15. Wow, so many recipes already in your comment box! I am not into baking, but would love to eat up all these goodies. Interesting giveaway too! I am following your Facebook page now.

  16. sounds interesting..happy hosting..
    first time here..love your space..
    very interesting posts with nice presentation..
    Am your happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  17. Hi Vicki–here’s a link to my favorite: http://www.dulcedough.com/2011/03/dark-chocolate-mint-chip-brownie.html

    It is my favorite because I LOVE chocolate, and these are almost like a brownie. I always seem to make them with different chips–mint, dark chocolate, peanut butter. Sometimes I split the batter and make them with two different kinds of chips at the same time.

  18. I “like” the Kuhn Rikon facebook page, and I want to win because I love spritz cookies!

  19. I “like” your Facebook page and will be posting the widget!

  20. Your cookies look so pretty! I need to join this American culture of baking cookies during holiday season… I don’t bake cookies (I really should though) so I will skip this giveaway so other readers who deserve more chance. 🙂 I’ll be working on my baking skills meanwhile!

  21. White Chocolate, Cranberry, Macadamia Nut Dreams

    Ingredients
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup white sugar
    1 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 cup butter, softened
    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 cup vanilla baking chips
    1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
    1 cup dried cranberries
    Directions
    In a medium bowl set aside flour, baking soda and salt.
    Cream together white sugar, light brown sugar and butter (do not use shortening). Add slightly beaten eggs and vanilla.
    Add flour mixture until just mixed. Stir in vanilla chips, macadamia nuts and dried cranberries.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    Place on ungreased cookie sheet by small scoop or rounded teaspoon. Bake for 10 minutes or just until set. Remove from oven and let cool. Cookies will sink slightly.
    Any cookie this wonderful deserves to sit upon my Grandmother’s Fine China.
    This recipe is my husbands favorite, so I make it every Christmas.

  22. Hi Vicki, fun idea. I had a one stop cookie shop post last year…

    http://pegasuslegend-whatscookin.blogspot.com/2010/11/foodbuzz-24×24-your-one-stop-cookie.html

    I love cookie presses… have fun everyone ! I have to work 6 days a week during the holiday in retail, wont be doing much this year, lots of reposts 🙁 happy baking everyone!

  23. I love all these great recipes.

    @Purabi – I hope you’ll attempt some of these recipes even though you’re not into baking. Maybe we will change your mind.

    @Jay – thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll post a cookie recipe. If not, please try one of ours. I’ll definitely check out your site.

    @Dulce Dough – Wow these look wonderful. I always have been a sucker for chocolate. These sound heavenly. Thanks for all your posts and this wonderful recipe.

    @Nami – Since you aren’t a baker I hope you’ll at least try out one of our recipes or maybe one of your friends will bake it for you. Thank you for your post.

    @Dana – Well these sound fantastic. I love all the ingredients in them. Thank you for sending me an email with your recipe and photo to my gmail account so that I can put your recipe along with others into a pdf for all the view.

    Looking forward to trying all these wonderful cookies.

    @Pegasuslegend – wow you were busy last year baking a lot! I’m sure I speak for everyone here – thank you for showering us with so many incredibly delicious sounding cookie recipes. I’ll be sure to add those to a pdf for everyone to view. Hopefully it will make it easier and they can be printed off.

    Thank you again for your post and have fun working the sales floor for the upcoming holiday season. I enjoy doing that, and have for the past 4 years.

  24. What a great idea! I’ve always wanted to host one, too, but unfortunately, most of my friends don’t bake!

    http://www.diydujour.com/2011/09/08/the-most-amazing-chocolate-chip-cookies-by-cooks-illustrated/

  25. @Heather – thank you for your post. Everyone always loves a great chocolate chip cookie recipe. Looking forward to trying them.

    Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!

  26. Hi Vicki! Great idea. Its always fun to try new cookie recipes and my kids love being the samplers! I recently made some whoopee pies and they were yummy! They look like they are difficult to make, but they are really easy and fun! Here is my link if you want to check out the step by step photos!

    http://marinmamacooks.blogspot.com/2011/10/whoopie-pies.html

    I would love a cook press. It would be a great tool to have when you have to bake a bunch of holiday cookies!

  27. Jacquelyn thank you for posting these wonderful whoopie pies with the link to your blog with the recipe and photos. Your cake stand is so pretty. I need to find something like that.

    Thank you for sharing.

  28. Hi Vicki, this is a really nice idea. Recipe & photo for the Best Chocolate Drop Cookies is here: http://www.kitchenriffs.com/2011/10/best-chocolate-drop-cookie-ever.html

    I’m not interested in being entered in the drawing, but I do like your blog so I liked you on Facebook.

    Thanks.

  29. @Kitchen Riffs – thanks so much for entering these wonderful chocolate cookies. I’m certain everyone that makes them will love them.

  30. Very important and delicious discussions here about foods and other eating items, and we love to read more posts from you.

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