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Spiced-up cookie exchange makes baking easier

Published 4:44pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

Everyone seems to love the holiday desserts that grace our buffet tables or are placed in boxes for the neighbors.

But how do you find time to bake up all these treats?

An easy way to do it is to host a cookie exchange.  It’s fun to get together with friends, thereby sharing the work. Simply choose a date early in December because holiday calendars fill up fast. Invite 10 guests to each bring five dozen of the same cookie to share.

Have your guests let you know ahead of time what they plan to bring to avoid duplicating recipes. Invite guests to bring their cookies on platters along with the recipe (and maybe an extra container to house all those cookies they will take home).  Each guest can then plan to take home 60 cookies of different varieties.  You can organize it further by listing the number of cookies on a notecard to take from each platter.

Consider spicing up your cookie exchange with new holiday favorites – by adding a variety of spices, nuts or dried fruit to favorite recipes.

Great ways to add some spice to your cookies include adding:

•Fresh grated ginger to molasses cookies.

•Cardamom and allspice to coconut macaroons.

•Cinnamon to chocolate crinkles.

• Lemon zest and almond extract to sugar cookies.

•Fresh rosemary to biscotti

•Pumpkin pie spice to meringues

•Almond, cashew or sesame butter in exchange for peanut butter


Holiday cookies that contain less fat can still taste great.  Cookies that are typically less calorie-dense without modification include meringues, molasses cookies, ginger snaps, biscotti and oatmeal cookies.

Lower-fat cookies may also include some primary substitutions such as egg whites (two egg whites equals one egg) for structure, fruit purees (in place of oil) for flavor and tenderness, and fat-free yogurt (in place of sour cream) for moistness.

Cookies that include the usual dose of fat and sugar can still be part of a sensible, balanced diet. A serving of one or two cookies, in combination with a healthy overall eating pattern, can easily fit into a balanced holiday and meet the Dietary Guidelines recommendations.

No-bake peanut butter truffles

Serves 80 (1 truffle each)

Prep: 2 hours

 All you need

•1⁄2 cup butter

•2 cups creamy peanut butter

•3 cups finely crushed Hy-Vee toasted rice cereal (about 10 cups uncrushed)*

•2 cups powdered sugar

•1 (24 ounce) package almond bark

 All you do

1. In a large microwaveable bowl, melt butter. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Mix in cereal and powdered sugar. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper. Roll cereal mixture into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Chill in refrigerator for 1-1/2 hours or in freezer for 30 minutes.

3. In a medium microwavable bowl, melt half the almond bark according to microwave directions on the package.  Keeping one baking sheet chilled, use a fork to dip balls from one baking sheet into melted almond bark to coat, shaking off any excess. Place coated balls on cooling rack set over waxed paper. Melt other half of almond bark and repeat with remaining cereal balls on other baking sheet.

4. Let cool until coating is hardened.  Carefully remove truffles with spatula and store in covered container in the refrigerator.

*For best results, pulse cereal in batches in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

Nutrition facts: per cookie: 120 calories, 6 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated, 0 g trans fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 60 mg sodium, 13 g carb., 0 g fiber,  2 g protein

Source:  Hy-Vee Seasons Holiday 2012


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