Entertain with Homemade Cookies

Memphis, Tenn. (Dec. 2008) – As the holidays near, bakers grab their cookbooks and shopping lists, ready to prepare warm, delicious foods to entertain guests for the many festive parties this season.

Desserts take on a mind of their own, with parties devoted completely to sweets. Cookie swaps have been in existence for many years, but they're coming back into style as a creative, fun way to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family. These fun dessert parties allow hosts to put their best foot forward, offering guests beautifully decorated holiday cookies to take home. At a cookie swap, guests bring a predetermined number of cookies they've baked to swap with others. Recipes are exchanged along with the cookies making the party a fun socializing event combining two loves: food and friends.

Baking expert Dede Fuson offers some tips when creating cookies for this party. "When selecting a cookie recipe, try and choose a special type of cookie that you don't deem an 'everyday' cookie. Bake something that others will be excited to bring home – displaying festive, decorated cookies around the house is fun and offers guests something different," said Fuson. "And don't forget the sprinkles!"

After hosting a cookie swap, guests get to take away a variety of decorated holiday cookies. If you're not into eating them, take them to a retirement home or hospital, spreading the warmth of the holidays to others in your community.

Cookie Swap = Stress-free

Here are some tips to making your cookie swap party stress-free (hint, the key for this party is simplicity):

  • When inviting guests, make sure to include the specifics: how many cookies they should prepare, the importance of bringing a large container to collect cookies throughout the evening, a nice serving platter to display their cookies and several copies of their cookie recipe to share with others.
  • Set-up for a cookie swap is simple. Make sure you have ample room to display all your guests' cookies (such as a dining room table). Decorations can be minimal since the real star of the evening will be the cookies.
  • Prepare and display simple appetizers and beverages throughout the kitchen and living area. With cookies galore, no desserts will need to be made. Foods such as veggies and dip, fruit and finger sandwiches should suffice as undoubtedly your guests will mainly sample cookies.

Bake your Own Successful Cookie

There are all types of cookies to bake and share with your guests. Dede Fuson shares some of her favorite recipes.

"I've developed a basic soft sugar cookie, an easy-to-prepare, scrumptious treat that will have all your guests begging for the recipe," said Fuson. "The best part about this recipe is that with a few ingredient changes, the sugar cookie can change into a chocolate sandwich cookie or a chocolate dipped peanut butter cookie. With all those options you can use this simple recipe over and over as teacher's gifts, hostess gifts, or for other events throughout the year."


White Lily® Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies

Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
3 1/4 cups White Lily® All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor Shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

Buttercream Frosting
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring, optional
Colored sugar or sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Coat a large baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Combine shortening, sugar, egg, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla in large bowl, beat 2 minutes.

2. Add sour cream and half the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon. Stir in remaining dry ingredients. Roll dough into 2-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons) with oiled hands; place on prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Dip bottom of a glass into flour; press dough down to about 1/2- inch thickness.

3. Bake at 375° F. for 10 to 11 minutes or until cookies begin to look dry on top. (Cookies will not be brown.) Remove from oven; cool 2 minutes. Remove cookies to cooling racks with metal spatula. Cool completely.

4. For frosting, beat butter until creamy in large bowl. Add powdered sugar, milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat on low until blended. Beat on medium until light and fluffy. Add more milk if frosting is too thick. Stir in food coloring, if desired. Spread on cookies, sprinkle with colored sugar.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies


White Lily® Chocolate Dipped Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
3 1/4 cups White Lily® All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor Shortening
1 cup Jif® Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

Chocolate Dip
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons Crisco® Butter Flavor Shortening

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Coat baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Combine 1/4 cup shortening, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla in large bowl, beat 2 minutes.

2. Add sour cream and half the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon. Stir in remaining dry ingredients. Roll dough into 2- inch balls (about 2 tablespoons) with oiled hands; place on prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Flatten in crisscross pattern with floured fork to about 1/2- inch thickness. Bake at 375° F. for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies begin to look dry on top. (Cookies will not brown.) Remove from oven; cool 2 minutes. Remove cookies to cooling racks with metal spatula. Cool completely.

3. For dip, microwave chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl until melted, about 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons shortening; stir until blended. Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate mixture. Cool on waxed paper in refrigerator until set.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies


White Lily® Soft Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
2 3/4 cups White Lily® All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor Shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

White Chocolate Ganache
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat cookie sheet with no-stick cooking spray. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in medium bowl. Set aside. Combine shortening, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl, beat for 2 minutes.

2. Add sour cream and half the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon. Stir in remaining dry ingredients. Roll dough into 2- inch balls (about 2 tablespoons) with oiled hands; place on prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Dip bottom of glass into flour; press dough down to about 1/2- inch thickness.

3. Bake at 375°F. for 10 to 11 minutes or until cookies look dry on the top. Remove from oven; cool 2 minutes. Remove cookies to cooling racks with a metal spatula. Cool completely.

4. For ganache, bring cream to a boil in small saucepan or microwave in microwave safe bowl until boiling. Remove; add white chocolate chips; stir until melted and smooth. Chill in refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes or until spreading consistency. To make cookie sandwich, spread ganache onto half the cookies, then top the ganache with remaining cookies.

Makes 15 sandwich cookies

Crisco is a trademark of The J.M. Smucker Company

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Courtney Eller
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Courtney.Eller@dvl.com

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White Lily® Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies
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White Lily® Chocolate Dipped Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
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