The Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipe Guide

This is the ultimate cookie exchange recipe list. These cookies are all delicious, and there is something here that almost everyone can eat. There are options that are dairy-free, and egg free, and gluten free. If you’d like additional gluten-free options, add Rice Krispies Treats, or baggies of Muddy Buddies (made with Corn Chex).

The ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies! These 6 cookie recipes, and one perfect decorator icing recipie will help you make the perfect plate of holiday cookies. Tips for making all the cookies yourself over 2 days - or divide up the recipes among friends for the ultimate cookie exchange!

I like to add a chocolate-chip cookie to my plate of cookies as well. You can go with whatever your favorite recipe is. I like the one on the back of the Costco brand chocolate chips, but if you’re looking for a more festive cookie, try the pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies.

You can make all these cookies yourself in about 2 days. Or, you can divide the recipes up among a group of friends, each make a couple batches, and share at a cookie exchange party. I put these cookies on a simple decorated plate from the dollar store.

Tip: If you’re going to make all of these cookies yourself, make sure that you have enough ingredients on hand, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter all go fast when making this many cookies! Also, start with the Sugar Cookie and {Almost} Speculaas recipes, because these doughs need to be refrigerated/frozen. I usually make these doughs the night before my big day of baking. I also like to make my chocolate chip cookie dough the night before. I make a double-batch, and freeze tablespoon fulls on sheets of parchment paper. The next day, I throw the balls of dough into a zip-seal bag, and have dough ready to go.

At the end of the first day, I make the meringues. Because it is best for them to slowly cool as the oven cools (so they dry out), I bake these at the end of the first day. When they are done baking, I turn off the oven, and let them sit as I clean up the kitchen and get ready for day two… then I can put them in airtight containers overnight.

The Ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies

 

Meringues

These meringues are simple to make – they’re light, and fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth sweet! They look fancy on any cookie plate. If you hate tossing out egg yolks, you can poach them and chop them up to sprinkle on salads.

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees

On high speed, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Slowly and steadily, add the sugar while continuing to whisk. Then slowly whisk in the vanilla.

Transfer mix into a large pastry bag with a large star attachment, or a large zip top bag (cut the corner off the zip-top bag). On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, form mounds, each about the size of a tablespoon, and at least 2 inches apart. Bake at 25o degrees for 40-45 minutes. Do not allow them to brown – if you start to see golden edges, turn off the oven!

When they are done baking, turn off the oven but do not remove the cookie sheets. Allow to sit in the oven as the oven cools, or for about 2 hours. Remove and store in air-tight storage containers.

 

{Almost} Speculaas

This egg-free cookie dough is the closest I’ve found to a traditional Dutch Speculaas Cookie Recipe, and uses ingredients you can find at most American grocery stores. I prefer it to traditional gingerbread. It has a great spiced flavor, and is perfect for the holidays. For the uninitiated, I compare it to a spiced shortbread cookie.

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c hot water
1 C unsalted butter, softened
4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mace
1/8 tsp cloves

Dissolve baking soda in water. Beat with butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Divide into 3 parts. Place each part on an 18″ length of plastic wrap, and form into a log about 2.5″ in diameter. Wrap tightly, twisting ends. Freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one log from the freezer, using a sharp kitchen knife, cut log into slices about 1/4″ thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12 to 14 minutes. Repeat with additional logs.

 

Sveta

This recipe is a family recipe. It was given to me by my in-laws, passed down from family friends. It is a Slav cookie recipe, perfect for the holidays! The Nucoa is non-dairy, making these a great dairy-free cookie option.

1 cube Nucoa (margarine)
1 1/2 C sugar
6 eggs
3 C flour
3 1/2tsp baking powder
2 tsp anise extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream Nucoa and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add in dry ingredients and mix well. Add in extracts. Mix until incorporated. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, the cookies will be soft, and slightly brown around the edges. Sprinkle warm cookies with powdered sugar and allow to cool.

 

D’Amaretti Biscotti

This biscotti recipe, and the one below, are family favorites. Make these two, wrap them up, and you’ll be asked for them year after year! Though biscotti is twice-baked, that doesn’t mean it is twice as hard to make! It is a delicious cookie that stores well for gift giving.

3 1/4 C Flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
3 eggs (plus one egg white)
2 tsp lemon peel, finely shredded
1 tsp anise extract
1/2 C toasted and chopped hazelnuts (if you really can’t find them, you can use almonds, if you must)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly Grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. Beat butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, lemon peel, and anise extract. Slowly add dry ingredients until well incorporated. Stir in nuts.

Divide douh in half, form into two logs on the cookie sheet, each about 12″ x 2″ x 1″. Beat egg white until foamy and brush over the top.

Bake 20-25 minutes until light brown. Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool. Store in air-tight container.

 

Biscotti Toscani

This biscotti has the extra step of adding a layer of chocolate to one side, making it both delicious and fancy-looking! When you are done adding the chocolate, turn the leftover melted chocolate into hot cocoa! Add 1 cup of milk, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a dash of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Microwave for a minute, stir, microwave for 30 more seconds, and enjoy!

1/2 C Whole Almonds
1/3 C Butter, softened
3/4 C White Sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
2 tsp Grated Orange Zest
2 1/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Bake nuts in 325 degree oven about 8 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Allow to cool, then rough chop so the almonds are cut once or twice each.

Lightly grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and orange zest. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. DO NOT ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS.

Split dough into two halves. Place each half on cookie sheet, and form into logs. Each log should be about 1/2″ thick and 12 inches long. Keep them at least 2 inches apart, they will expand a little in baking. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool.

Melt chocolate in microwave. Use a spoon to spoon about 1 tbsp onto one side of each cookie, use the back of the spoon to spread it across and to the edges. Allow chocolate to set. Store in air-tight containers.

 

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

These sugar cookies are tender and sweet – and keep their shape when cut out with cookie cutters. Decorate using the royal flow icing recipe below, or with your favorite frosting and sprinkles.

1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1/4 C Sour Cream
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Almond Extract
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
4 1/2 C All Purpose Flour

In mixer on high speed, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs until well incorporated. Add Sour Cream and Extracts. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until dough no longer sticks to sides, then STOP! Knead the rest of the way by hand on a lightly floured surface if needed. Do not overmix – this makes the dough tough.

Divide dough into 3 parts, form each part into a ball, then flatten into a 1″ thick disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick. Cut out with cookie cutters, and transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-11 minutes until edges are *just* starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and move cookies to cooling racks. Wait until they are completely cool to decorate.

Flow Royal Icing

This icing is liquid enough to flow, but solid enough to create outlines, so you don’t need two icing consistencies to decorate your cookies! To prevent bleed, allow one color to set a little before adding a second color.

5 T of Meringue Powder (available at the craft store in the Wilton baking section)
1/2-3/4 C of water
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract (buy the clear stuff when you’re buying the Meringue Powder)
1 T Light corn syrup
Gel food coloring

Add the ingredients, in order, while you mix at a low speed. Once they are incorporated, beat on high for several minutes. Mixed icing should be matte colored and stiff peaked. Keep icing stored in air-tight containers until ready to use. Keep refrigerated, but allow to come to room temperature before using. Add gel food coloring to tint.

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