How To Have A Perfect Cookie Exchange

How To Have The Perfect Cookie Exchange

I tremendously enjoy cookie exchanges.  Why, you ask?  As I have stated before, the cookie is THE perfect dessert.  Oh, yes it is.  They are easy to make, they are quick and if you eat one cookie and it’s not enough, there really isn’t any guilt about eating a second.  Or third.  Maybe the guilt hits when you have eaten your forth. Unless of course you are taste testing the batch to make sure they are suitable for human consumption.  Then a forth cookie would be completely acceptable.  You are only doing your duty as a mom.  Leave it at that.

I used to lead a M.O.M.S group at my church and come Christmas time, we would have a cookie exchange for those who wanted to participate.  All those varieties of cookies sitting in one spot.  All for me to take and try.  Just beautiful.  Are you wanting to have your own cookie exchange with the people you work with, your next door neighbors or Bible study group?  Do you wonder how to have the perfect cookie exchange?  Wonder no more.  I got you covered.

Why Have A Cookie Exchange

Um, it’s cookies.  Any reason is a fine reason. :-)  If you aren’t a fan of working in the kitchen, but want a variety of cookies to have, having an exchange with some close friends is a great way to cut down on your work load during Christmas.  Doubling (or tripling) a batch of cookies is a lot easier than making several different kinds of cookies.  Cookie exchanges are great to have for Women Fellowship gatherings or M.O.M.S groups.

Choose A Date Wisely

A cookie exchange is only as successful as the cookies that are brought.  If you are planning an exchange and are trying to set a date to have it, try to take note of the days surrounding the exchange.  I know you don’t know everyone’s schedules, but asking people to bring large batches of cookies when their days are already filled, is not a good plan.  Don’t schedule the exchange near Thanksgiving or right before Christmas.  If you are planning it for a M.O.M.S group, don’t plan the exchange when the school is having their Christmas concert or Christmas skits.  Be mindful of the community events surrounding the date and go for it.  You won’t be able to make it work for everyone, but at least the major events are avoided.

How Many Cookies Should We Bring

That is a tough number to decide on.  If you are having a small exchange, perhaps with some close friends, it will be easier to decide the appropriate number of cookies to bring.  For example, if 4 people are exchanging cookies, everyone can bring 4 dozen cookies.  Then everyone can leave with 4 dozen  cookies.  However, if you have a large group of people exchanging cookies, you can’t ask everyone to bring 12 dozen cookies.  It probably wouldn’t be a good turnout.  For a group of 10 women, I would ask everyone to bring 3-4 dozen cookies.  Then when the day came to exchange, divide the number of cookies by the number of people there.  Typically, everyone would get 4 or more cookies off of each tray.

Provide Trays Or Remind The Participants To Bring Their Own

That right there could be a cookie exchange blunder.  You are all excited, you show up with your tray of cookies to exchange and you have nothing to put the new cookies on.  Unless you do a juggling act with your tray and cookies, you need something to put the new cookies on!  I would always buy some trays for the participants.  They were never costly, but they were new Christmas trays and that was fun.

Don’t Worry About Duplicates

I never worried about duplicating cookie kinds.  If there are multiple chocolate chip cookies being exchanged, chances are, they aren’t the same recipe and will be different in some way.  You can certainly provide a list for everyone to sign up and say what type of cookie they will bring.  It’s up to you.  I found most people don’t know until last minute but it may help give ideas of what other’s are bringing.

Let The Exchanging Begin!

Have everyone set their trays on the table or counter and simply go down the line.  The best part of the exchange is seeing what everyone brought!  A personal note, if you see a cookie you probably won’t like, you may want to take it anyway.  You certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

What do you think?  Want to try a cookie exchange with your co-workers or friends?  Try it this year and enjoy all the varieties of cookies you will receive.  Remember, you can always freeze them for later so they will last longer than a few days.  Ahem.  Ask me how I know. ;-)

Need Some Cookie Recipes? Here are a few for you:

Gooey Butter Cookies

Gooey Butter Cookies

Peppermint Kiss Cookies

Peppermint Hershey Kiss Cookies

You can also follow Baking With Mom on Pinterest. I have a group Cookie And Brownie Board with great cookie and brownie recipes!

Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Roll

You have no idea how excited I was when I rolled the Pumpkin Roll up for the last time.  And it stayed.  And it didn’t crack (not too bad, anyway).  I have always wanted to make a roll of some kind.  Jelly roll, pumpkin roll, chocolate roll of some kind (is there a recipe for that?), I have wanted to take the plunge and make one but I have always been too afraid to try.

Roll it in a dishtowel?  Unroll it and roll again?

I think I will just make a layer cake.  Simpler.

Actually, a layer cake isn’t simpler.  Making this pumpkin roll wasn’t just easy, it wasn’t that time consuming.  When my hubby came home from work, he spied the leftover cream cheese filling in a bowl on the counter.  (I believe he started sniffing it out in the driveway.  He knows cream cheese.) Anyway, he as he dutifully cleaned the bowl for me, I told him to open the refrigerator. He did and immediately approved of my efforts.

I thought he would.

A few tips:

I recommend using parchment paper on the bottom of your jellyroll pan to prevent sticking.  It made the cake slide out of the pan easily.

Make sure you allow proper cooling time.  Don’t get into a rush.

Measure carefully, no guessing allowed.  Except the cinnamon.  We never measure cinnamon, right? ;-)

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The batter ready to go into the oven

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The cake inverted onto the dish towel.  Um, fabric.  I didn’t have a dish towel suitable for this. Whatever works, right?

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The rolled up dish towel/fabric

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Spreading on the cream cheese filling

Pumpkin Roll

The finished goodness

Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2/3 c pumpkin
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • For The Filling
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Beat eggs for 5 minutes with a hand mixer or stand mixer (medium speed). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350* and line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper
  • Add sugar, a little at a time
  • Mix in rest of ingredients
  • Pour cake batter into pan and bake for 13-15 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes
  • Invert cake onto a dish towel covered with powdered sugar
  • Let cool 5 more minutes and remove parchment paper
  • Roll cake and towel together
  • Cool for one hour
  • Next Step
  • Mix all filling ingredients together
  • Unroll cake
  • Spread on filling, then roll up cake
  • Refrigerate 1 hour before serving
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Alice In ONEderland Cake

Alice in ONEderland Topsy Turvy Cake

Contributor: Jessica From Sweetwater Cakes

Cake: Alice In ONEderland-Topsy Turvy Cake

The bottom tier is white cake with vanilla buttercream filling covered in fondant.  The middle tier is lemon cake with raspberry filling covered in fondant.  The hat is made of rice krispie treats, also covered in fondant.

*Bakingwithmom note:

Thanks Jessica, for sending in this Alice in ONEderland cake.  Do you have a cake you would like to send into Baking With Mom?  I would like to see it!  Go to Contacts to read more.

Serving In The Church

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Today, I am honored to be guest posting at Managing Your Blessings.

It is hard to find ways to serve in church when you are taking care of little ones.  As moms, we want to help, but it is hard to find the time (and patience!) to tackle one more thing on our to-do list.  Being able to serve as God wants us to is an important priority in our busy schedule.  Our attitude plays a big part in our willingness to serve.  Read the full post here.

How To Make The Perfect Pie

How To Make The Perfect Pie

Over the last couple of days, I have discussed Thanksgiving plans with a few different people. When talking about Thanksgiving plans, the conversation turned to making pies.  They commented they didn’t know how to make the perfect pie, so they were going to order them.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with ordering a pie or any other dessert. It can cut down on time in the kitchen so you can focus on other Thanksgiving flavors.

However, I know that you really, really want to make the perfect pie. It isn’t as hard as you may think.  The buttery crust, the rich filling, can’t you just taste your grandma’s pie?  You can certainly appreciate the time and effort of family dinners of yesteryear.  You can recreate that.  Really.

Now, I am well aware there are many, many tips on the internet on how to bake the perfect pie.  I’m sure Martha Stewart and Paula Dean have great tutorials.  I’m not them; I’m not a pie making expert.  (I make a whole lot less money  than they do, too.) :-) However, I am just a simple home baker who thought she couldn’t make her own pies without a store bought crust. Then I actually tried making a pie, cut up butter and all.  Delicious. Simple. Easy.

Here are some simple tips that will help  you on your path to pie baking success.

Buy A Food Processor

There are a few appliances I don’t think I would ever want to not have in my kitchen.  The Food Processor is one of them.  I didn’t have one for a long time and got one just a few years ago. I’m not sure what the specific reason was I wanted it, but I know it wasn’t for making pies.  Do you need a food processor to make a good pie crust?  Oh, of course not.  However, it works well, it cuts the butter well and it takes the guess work out of the crust making.  If you want, you can certainly do the fork, water and dough on the side of the bowl way.  It is a good way, I have done it myself.  I just appreciate my food processor.

Always Use Real Butter

Some recipes call for shortening.  I personally would rather use butter.  Do not use margarine.  I’ll admit, I have used margarine when I wanted to make a pie spur of the moment and real butter was not to be found in my house.  I don’t feel the pie turned out as well.  It worked in a pinch, but I would use butter for company.  Safer that way. :-)

Cold Butter Is A Happy Pie

Cold butter creates a flaky pie.  Now, can your pie be non-flaky and be an okay pie?  Of course.  But a flaky pie is an impressive pie.  (Starting to see how Grandma did it, aren’t you?)

Only Roll Chilled Dough

The only dough you want to roll out when making a pie is a chilled dough.  Plan ahead and know you need to let your dough sit in the fridge for  20-30 minutes before rolling it out. When you roll out your dough, start in the center and roll outward.  Now, if you are like me and have rolling out issues, do know, the shape you roll your dough out will not make or break your pie.  Unless you roll it out in a funny triangle shape.  That would be a problem.  As long as the pie dough is a circle-ish shape, you will be fine!  You have to trim off the edges anyway! (More later on what to do with those yummy pie crust edges.)

Fabulous Filling

Oh, the filling.  Apple, blueberry, pumpkin, lemon, chocolate, the possibilities are indeed, endless.  Since we are having a Thanksgiving/Christmas theme here, we will talk about apple pies.  In my post on baking pies with my daughter, I gave you the recipe for apple pie.  Apple pie takes a little bit of work, but it is easy work.  Peeling the apples is probably the most time consuming.

The Crust Edges

So you rolled out the pie dough and you made the careful transfer to the pie pan (wrap it around the rolling pin, works every time! Well, most of the time.) ;-) You put your wonderful filling in the crust. You now have to put the other crust on and trim it to fit. Just run your knife around the outer edge of the pan to take off the extra dough. Pinching the ends of the dough together to seal it, can be a bit tricky.  Just stick with the fork smash.  Take a fork and press down around the outer edges of the pie, sealing the edges.  Now what to do with the extra dough?  Well, you need to eat it, of course! Take the pie dough scraps and put a cinnamon sugar mixture on them.  Roll them up like a cinnamon roll and bake for 6-8 minutes.  Always a kid pleaser.

The Test

Did I convince you to try making your own pie yet?  Don’t let the first time you make a pie be the night before your family gathering.  You will be nervous, flustered and under pressure to make the perfect pie.  Try making a test pie.  Your family won’t mind.  Find out what works, what doesn’t and you will be ready for the big day.

What is your favorite pie?  Do you have any tips and tricks you want to share?

*A link in this post is my affiliate link.  You can read our disclosure policy here.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are an absolute favorite of my family’s.  When my children saw these muffins on the counter, they asked if they were for breakfast, lunch, supper (dessert) or snack.  I told them they were for whatever they want them to be.  They were thrilled.  That is what is great about these muffins.  They are very versatile and can be used for snacks or breakfast or to be packed in lunch boxes.  They are so easy to make.

This recipe is a dump and go recipe too.  You can add everything to the bowl.  No “this ingredients then mix” or “that ingredient and fold”.  Simply add all of the ingredients in the bowl and stir.  Done.  Who doesn’t love that?!?

I made these pumpkin chocolate chip muffins when two of my children were at school and the other two were being entertained by Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  It is our first experience with Netflix (never had it before) and the children have really enjoyed Jake.  Anyway, when the kids had a muffin for lunch, our two year old (Caleb) exclaimed “MUFFIN MAN!”.  Yes, he calls muffins, “Muffin Man”.  Then usually the Muffin Man song is close to follow.  Too cute. :-)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c oil
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Grease muffin tins with cooking spray. Bake at 350* for 20 minutes or until tops bounce back when lightly touched. Will make around 30 normal sized muffins. Great in mini loaf pans as well.
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