Outside, the sun sparkles off about a foot of pristine snow. Indoors, the kitchen smells deliciously of cinnamon and chocolate… and the pre-Christmas baking continues…

festive cookies Each of the keen cooks among our friends and extended family has a different couple of specialties in the Christmas treats category, so one of our annual holiday traditions is for a few of us will get together to bake — using the heat from one oven, so environmentally friendly, plus it’s always more fun to cook with company.

This year is an extra-busy one, however, so we’re going for a straight cookie swap.

You bake yours, I bake mine — and we all get together with our cookies and make a trade. It’s a bit of a relaxed social time (sampling the cookies is a must!) and everyone goes home with an impressive mix of holiday goodies…

Robin Olson has a cookie-exchange party idea that I rather like — you collect all the cookie swap recipes in advance, and print them up in a little booklet as a take-home party favour. Or maybe do up recipe cards, tied together at the corner with a ribbon? Make a nice cover for it (put the kids to work with crayons) and your cookie cookbook could even double as a Christmas card.

Anyway, I didn’t get my truffles made in that last mad flurry of storm day baking, due to a critical shortage of condensed milk (substitute for cream) in the pantry. But it’s on the shopping list, along with the tiny festive paper cups in which to nestle those tasty chocolatey morsels.

Meanwhile, I’ve moved on to meringues — since the Reynolds people were good enough to send a packet of parchment paper today, in a cookie tin along with recipe cards and party invitations and all manner of cookie-related goodness. (If you’re in the US, by the way, you can get Reynolds to send a free sample of parchment paper to you.)

Yeah, yeah, I know, me too… “parchment paper” always reminds me of snooty restaurants serving Aubergine en papillote and such.

meringue tray But for meringues, it’s just practical.

Non-stick cookie sheets, ordinary cookie sheets, it doesn’t matter — if I don’t use parchment paper under my meringues, a few will always stick and crumble when I try to slide them off the pan… Of course, that does mean I have to eat the crumbs…

Oh! how I love meringues!

Tiny little light-as-air confections to melt on the tongue…. why is it that not a lot of people make them anymore? Perhaps these could be my “signature cookie” for the exchange.

Half of my recipe, I’ll shape as dainty dollops about the same size as the truffles — package them up together in a pretty tin, and there’s a perfect hostess gift for when you’re making the festive rounds!

The other half, I’ll pipe out the meringue into finger shapes, and dip the ends in dark bttersweet chocolate, maybe roll in thin shavings of milk chocolate, too, for decorative effect.

Because really, there’s no such thing as too much chocolate…

Photos: Reynolds, ifindkarma

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ann

    I have never tried meringues. I just always thought they would be way too hard. But they WOULD make great Christmas gifts! I’ve got the parchment, so I’m one step ahead already. :)

  2. Chicgirl

    I like the idea of the cookie swap; it sounds deliciously fun!

  3. domestika

    Happy Ho-ho-ho to you too, Mitch! And you know I’d send you some baked goods, if they had a chance of making it past your Homeland Security guys… really…

    That science experiment’s not as crazy as it sounds, by the way — Brown paper (like from grocery bags) was our grandmothers’ version of parchment paper for baking. But I’ve never had any luck with anything but the newfangled parchment paper, myself… maybe they just don’t make paper bags the way they used to?

  4. Mitch

    It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…
    After I wiped the drool from my keyboard, I felt I had to let you know how much I enjoyed this article.
    Not only did it bring back childhood memories, but it also – finally! – taught me the secret to the non-crumbling meringue.

    If you promise not to laugh, I’ll tell you about the first and only time I ever made meringue:

    When I was about 14 or 15, I had a book called “Science Experiments You Can Eat.” There was a chapter on meringue. It called for a paper bag…
    – Stop snickering! –
    … upon which to place the finished product.

    Needless to say, that didn’t work very well.

    I may just have to try the Reynold’s parchment paper.
    Happy Holidays!


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