Recipe Roundup
Cookie Swap
A great way to see friends, find new recipes... and eat cookies!

Partygoers admire a tiny Christmas village that Katherine Bevins, third from left, put together for a cookie swap gathering. Pictured from left are: Sherri Lass, Gloria Chen, Bevins, Helen Gilbert, Marcelle Wendland, Ann Richburg, Traci Wallace, Mary Ann Zeitz, Jennifer Clitheroe (bottom center) and Trudi Dossey (bottom right).
IMAGE: Rick Patrick

Laughter, margaritas, appetizers and Christmas décor met us as we walked into Trudi Dossey’s house in Northwest Austin. It was like a bachelorette party for Mrs. Claus. There were hugs and kisses as friends greeted each other, including Katherine Bevins, a Pedernales Electric Cooperative member and wife of Texas Co-op Power’s sales director, Martin Bevins. “The cookie swap gathering started with a book-club group, but others have joined along the way. We all have kids who go to school together and have (Girl Scout) Brownies together,” Bevins said.

This cookie swap isn’t just about baking delicious cookies. It’s also about presentation. These competitive moms go all-out to put their cookies in the most attractive packaging for others to take home, including decorated tins, holiday gift bags and even a tiny Christmas village that Bevins put together (see photo below).

After eating, drinking and catching up with one another, the friends tried the cookies. Karen Downs won the cookie swap prize with a recipe for Rolo Cookies (see recipe at right). Her advice was, “Don’t eat more than three!”

A cookie swap is a fun way to see your friends in the middle of the busy holiday season. It can be a festive party or a low-key potluck; either way, each participant will come away with a great variety of cookies to serve holiday guests or send to far-away loved ones. Follow these simple rules for a super swap:

1. Send out invitations a month before the party as calendars fill up quickly during the holidays.

2. Everyone should bring the same number of cookies so each person goes home with an assortment, but the same number he or she arrived with. Popular amounts are four or six dozen. Equal amounts can either be packaged before arrival (as with the cookie swap mentioned above), or platters can be set out and attendees can go around the table putting cookies into their own tins or plates to carry home.

3. Ask invitees to bake their cookies two to three days before the swap. Cookies that have dried out and firmed up a bit are less likely to crumble. Undesirable cookies for cookie swaps (because of stickiness or crumbling) are no-bake cookies, bar cookies and meringue cookies.

4. Guests should bring enough copies of their recipes for everyone. As an icebreaker before the actual swap, ask each person to share the story of his or her cookies.

5. Above all, relax and be merry.

Rolo Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
48 Rolo candies, unwrapped
Powdered sugar

In mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugars; beat well. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cocoa. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating to combine. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into four parts. (Use one part at a time, leaving others in refrigerator.) Divide one part dough into 12 pieces. Flatten each piece between your hands. Place one Rolo into middle of dough and wrap dough around Rolo. Gently roll in your hands to make a ball. Make sure all of candy is covered with dough. Place on baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for
8 minutes. Let cool 1 minute, then remove to rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining three parts of dough. When all are cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 4 dozen.

Serving size: 1 cookie. Per serving: 114 calories, 1.3 g protein, 4.7 g fat, 16.6 g carbohydrates, 38 mg sodium, 19 mg cholesterol

Are you a co-op member?

Don't ask again