For the past few years, I have hosted a Christmas Cookie Exchange. It is a great time to catch up with friends and get into the Christmas spirit! I love the Christmas season because it is just so happy and cheerful. Every year, this joyful season seems to pass so quickly, and it often feels like we are in a rush to get finished with shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, and hopping from party to party. The Cookie Exchange has always felt like a nice break from the "holidaze" nature of the holidays. It's a way to eat, drink, and be merry! :) And, the best part, everyone leaves with a variety of cookies to enjoy through Christmas, which means less time (and less mess) in the kitchen!
The Cookie Exchange is next week end, and I can't wait! Keeping in mind that I'm a lawyer, it should be no surprise that some fine print is associated with enjoying the "sweetness of the season":
1. All cookies must be homemade.
2. Cupcakes, bar cookies, and truffles are permissible.
3. No chocolate chip cookies. However, you might be able to get away with red and green M&M cookies.
4. The gumdrop/cookie ratio must be no more than 20%.
5. No fruitcakes. (Though, I must admit that I'm somewhat intrigued by the Williams-Sonoma Assumption Abbey Fruitcake made in limited quantities by Trappist Monks.)
6. All cookies will elicit admiring oohs and aahs, no matter what.
Bar cookies were very popular at last year's cookie exchange. They are easy to make and just as easy to devour. You don't have to worry about rolling dough out and using cookie cutters. There's no risk of cookies baking into each other onto a baking sheet and forming a snowman cookie.
These blondies were moist and chewy, and the two different chocolate and nuts made them very decadent. I'm not sure why, but sometimes bar cookies and brownies taste better the next day. These had more of a butterscotch flavor the second day. It's hard not to love butterscotch, chocolate, and nuts in one dessert. The sprinkle of sea salt was a good balance to the sweetness from the chocolate, too. These were a hit at work!
What are you baking in your kitchen?
Yields 24 blondies
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
12 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Sea salt, if desired
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until smooth. T/hen, add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and combine. Then, stir in the nuts and the chocolate chunks. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
Baking for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out with moist crumbs attached. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, if desired. Allow to cool to room temperature or overnight before cutting and serving.
Source: Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery