There's a good reason so many people resort to cookie swap parties.
With busy lives and an even busier holiday season, few people have the time to whip up a cornucopia of cookies, the sort of variety-rich buffet of treats we drool over in cookbooks and magazines.
That's because even for seasoned bakers, making just a half dozen different holiday cookies can be a daunting task requiring serious planning, shopping and time. No wonder we prefer to let our friends do our baking for us.
The real challenge of making multiple varieties of cookies (or of any recipe) is that each batch usually requires a different set of ingredients, a different method, different equipment and probably different oven temperatures.
But remove even some of those differences and your baking becomes much easier. The tricky part is making sure you still end up with a wide variety of distinct cookies, not just a bunch of knockoffs.
Which is why we developed this system for creating a dozen deliciously distinct holiday cookies. Here's how it works:
We selected the three most common cookie styles - drop, cutout and bar. We then developed a base recipe for each, one easily adapted to different flavorings and toppings. Then we dreamed up four variations of each base recipe.
The result is 12 delicious days of cookies from just three basic recipes. You save time and money because the basic method and ingredients of each set of four recipes are the same. Even better - the oven temperature for all 12 is the same.
Here are some tips for using these recipes and simplifying your shopping:
- For each set of four cookies, prepare the pans for all of the batches at the same time. All four bar cookies, for example, call for baking pans lined with foil; save time by doing all of them at once.
- Likewise, before mixing, measure out all the ingredients for each batch. All four cookies in each set call for the same amounts of butter, liquids and dry ingredients.
- A 5-pound bag of flour contains about 20 cups (when sifted). You will need 12 cups of flour to make all of the bar cookies, 12 1/2 cups for the cutout cookies, and about 6 cups for the drop cookies.
- A 5-pound bag of granulated sugar contains 10 cups. You will need 4 cups of sugar to make all of the bar cookies, 4 cups for the cutout cookies, and 2 cups for the drop cookies.
- A brick of butter contains 4 sticks, or 2 cups. You will need 8 sticks of butter to make all of the bar cookies, 8 sticks for the cutout cookies, and 4 sticks for the drop cookies.
- The bar cookies need no eggs. You will need 8 eggs to make the cutout cookies, and 4 eggs for the drop cookies.