Cookie Recipes That Will Wow at This Year’s Exchange

Cookie Recipes That Will Wow at This Year’s Exchange |

So you’ve been invited to a holiday cookie exchange…that’s great news, right?

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something that’s both yummy and fun? Except you don’t want to show up with another plate of Toll House cookies or brownies from a box. That just wouldn’t fly.

Here are three easy-to-follow recipes from Meme Hopmayer‘s 2012 cookie exchange party. Any of these recipes will wow your friends and colleagues, and they’re simple to make to boot. Start baking!

Apricot Shortbread Bars

(from Char Podolsky, Highland Park)

  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 pound butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1 cup apricot preserves


1. In a mixer, cream: egg, sugar, vanilla and butter. Slowly add flour and mix until well blended. Add almonds for the last minute of mixing.

2. Using 2/3 of the dough, press evenly into the bottom of an 11” x 15” jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes).

3. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Spread the preserves evenly over the top. Crumble the remaining 1/3 of the dough evenly over the top of the preserves. Place under the broiler and broil until golden brown.

4. Watch carefully! Cut into squares.


Coffee Brownies

(from Mary Kay Halston, Evanston)

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (like Green and Black’s), melted
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 8 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 packets VIA Italian roast
 instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 degrees if using convection).

2. Line one 12-by-17-inch baking pan or two 8-by-10-inch baking pans with parchment paper.

3. Add sugar to softened butter and mix by hand (very important). Fold in melted chocolate.
 Add vanilla, coffee and salt.
 In separate bowl, whip eggs (by whisk or machine) until thick and lightened in color and fold into chocolate mixture by hand.

4. Add flour and gently fold in by hand. Pour into prepared pan.

5. Bake 14-18 minutes (depends on oven). I like it soft, but set in the center. Cool completely. In fact, I enjoy them refrigerated. Then cut to desired size. You can sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Warning: Highly addictive and may be dangerous to your health. Proceed with caution. -MKH


Pine Nut and Fig Cookie

(from Julie Chernoff)

From Emily Lucchetti’s “The Fearless Baker

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup white cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH baking soda and kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pine nuts in one layer in a small baking pan; bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Cool; coarsely chop and set aside.

2. Pour melted butter in medium bowl; add sugars and vanilla, stirring until well combined. Stir in the egg and egg yolk. Add flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt, stirring to combine. Stir in figs and chopped pine nuts.

3. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Put 2-tablespoon mounds of dough 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 12 minutes, rotating pans midway through baking, if you wish. Cool to room temperature before serving.

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