Okay, so you know how you go to cookie swaps, and you come home with 5,000 iced sugar cookies or date cookies or those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's kisses pressed in the top? And then you load up the freezer with all those cookies, half of which you're tempted to dump directly in the trash because they're partially burnt and you really didn't like them in the first place?
This is not that cookie swap.
This is better because... wait for it... it's virtual! It's more like a recipe swap with a cookie theme, and I have my good friend Diana to thank for the idea. Diana bakes up dozens of cookies every December and gives them out to all the special people in her life. Since I'm guessing many of you do the same, I'm taking the concept to the blogosphere.
Here's how it'll work:
1) Describe your favorite homemade cookie in the comments section below. Don't type out a complete recipe or give me all the ingredients -- yet. Just provide a title for the cookie and a short description of what it looks like/ tastes like/ and/or why it's special to you. Be shameless and lobby hard, as the competition may be stiff. If there's a quick story behind the cookie, please share it. (The recipe can certainly be from a cookbook/magazine/website.)
2) After the deadline (more on this in a minute), you'll all vote for your top three choices. I'll then contact those three people and ask them to email me full recipes, which I'll bake and blog about (with photos).
3) If you have your own food blog, I especially encourage you to participate. You can link to this swap on your blog and have your readers participate either on my blog or on your own. If you don't have a blog, who cares! It doesn't matter, and you should absolutely still participate.
Plus, I have PRIZES.
First, there's the raffle/participation prize. Everyone who leaves a comment with a cookie description will be entered into a raffle after the swap is over, and I'll pick one name out of a hat. The winner will receive a box of fresh California lemons from my Meyer lemon tree. (If you live outside the U.S., I'll figure out an alternate prize since I can't ship lemons internationally.)
Plus, the Grand Prize winner -- whom I'll choose after baking the cookies from the three semi-finalists YOU'VE chosen -- will receive (drumroll) some lemons from my tree, PLUS a set of *beautiful* 5 Second Rule notecards. (FYI: Zazzle is currently running a 50%-off promotion on cards through 12/6, if you enter code ZAZZLECARD50 at checkout. Plus, today only there's free shipping: code CYBERZSHIP08)
Deadline: All comments with cookie descriptions must be received in the space below by Sunday, December 7, 2008. Then you'll have a few days to vote and I'll take it from there.
Here's a cookie recipe to start things off.
Recipe for Whole Grain Cookies with Pulverized Tidbits
I love nuts and coconut, and I sometimes get tired of leaving these out of my cookies since one of my kids hates the texture of both. Well, I found a solution. When you reduce the chunks to uniform tidbits, you not only get the subtle flavor notes of all the mix-ins, but your cookies end up with a beautifully speckled interior as well. You can use any dried fruit or nut combination you like, and any kind of chocolate, too. Don't like coconut? Leave it out. The idea is to have fun and to custom-make the cookies with what you like. My kids love these, and they couldn't care less what's inside.
Makes about 70 small cookies
1/2 cup flaked (sweetened) coconut, dry-toasted
1 scant cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup pistachios
10 dried apricots
1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the pulverized tidbits: Combine coconut, chocolate chips, pistachios, and dried apricots in a food processor. Process for about 20 seconds, or until reduced to colorful, gravelly rubble. Click on the small photo above for the optimal size and texture, but you don't have to be too fussy about it. You'll use 1-1/2 cups of these tidbits in the cookies. (Save the remainder to sprinkle over oatmeal or granola.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the two flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and two sugars until light and creamy, about four minutes on medium-high speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the two extracts. Reduce the speed to low, and beat in the flour mixture in three additions, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Finally, beat in the pulverized tidbits in three additions as well.
Use a 1-1/4" scoop to portion out the dough onto parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until cookies are set and nicely browned. Cool on racks.