25th Anniversary Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange

InvitationMy invitation to “cookie bomb” the Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange was taped to my front door. Isn’t it precious? This is a special year because it is the 25th Anniversary. I don’t live in the neighborhood but I get an invite from my friend Joy every year. She hosted it this year and did a bang up job.

I started a new job six weeks ago and my life has been crazy. Check out my other blog, the patty beat, to see the details of that. As I was reflecting just yesterday, that when life is crazy anyway, throw a major holiday and family wedding in the mix and *%#@!*#@!

I planned in advance knowing I would have little time this week get it altogether.

the recipe

I chose the recipe from Cook’s Country December/January 2015 and it was the Grand Prize Winner of the Christmas Cookie Contest entitled Chocolate Croissant Cookies by Karen Cope of Minneapolis, MN. The requirement for the cookie exchange is to make 5 dozen cookies to share among a group of people and take home a smorgasbord of cookies to share for the holidays I made the dough in advance and popped it in the freezer for the past two weeks. I put it in the refrigerator 24 hours before assembly for it to thaw.

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The dough is a mini version of the croissant. The chocolate bars are placed in the center, fold over the dough and pop it in the oven.

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Rolling out and cutting the dough into twenty 4 x 2 inch pieces was the challenging part of the construction.

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I was pretty amazed that I rolled out and assembled the cookies in 2 hours. The last batch was warm from the oven and placed separately from the first two batches. Didn’t want the chocolate to schmush.

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Lucky for me Joy had two lovely plates for me to put my cookies on to display.

Chocolate Croissant Cookies

Every year the cookies become more creative.

St Nick cookies

 St Nick Cookies

 

Almond Coconut Cookies

 Almond Coconut cookies

reindeer cookies

 Reindeer Cookies

Heath bar cookies

Pecan Pie Bars

snowman cookies

 Snowman Cookies

Joy displayed a poster of all the pictures from all the past years and it was a nice to reflect on the past and look to the future.

Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange

 The 25th Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange 2014

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Rocky Mountain Cookie Cutter Club

I was invited to the meeting of the Rocky Mountain Cutups, a bi-annual gathering of people interested in the collection, history and making of cookie cutters and molds. My good friend, Joy, has belonged to this group almost 20 years and I finally took the time to attend as her guest. The theme was toy or miniature cookie cutters. The hostess, Cassandra made a presentation on company brands that produce miniature cutters. It is absolutely amazing how many cookie cutters that are out there. Celebrity chefs are even getting in on the market making cutters for pie crusts, cookies and holiday baking.

Rocky Mountain Cutups have a blog site profiling their past meetings with pictures.

The fun part of the meeting was Show and Tell. Two members had a picture scrapbook of a road trip they made to Illinois to see a former member. This member, Gary, has 19,000+ cookies cutters he has collected from all over the world. One of his most recent finds was this Abraham Lincoln cutter below.

Mae, who is a cute 80-something, brought the tiniest cookie cutter of a gingerbread man.

Arlene, shared that she was featured in a national article on her cookie cutter collections. Joy brought her collection of child-size kitchen tools and accompanying cutters. Joy and Char both brought cutters that were shaped so that the cookie sat on the lip of a cup for tea. Here are the wing cookies on a cup.

Elena is the tinsmith in the group and makes the cookie cutters that the club takes to the national convention. Here is one of her creations.

My show and tell was my describing my food blog and the February posting on macarons. I stayed up until 1:30 am making macarons to share with the group!

Cassandra showed her displays of cookie cutters and molds. The two pictures below are just a couple of walls in this big room.

I didn’t stay for the whole day but I found out I’ll be helping out with the next meeting in August. The theme will be Mad Hatters! All about hats!

The Cookie Exchange Party

The 23rd annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange took place last week. I was an invited guest to this neighborhood party and was honored to be among these women of all different interests and backgrounds.

To participate in the Cookie Exchange, there are a few rules to follow:

1) To take cookies you must bring cookies, 5 dozen to be exact. One woman came to the party to socialize, only because she burned her cookies. She took a lot of pictures.

2) Bring copies of your recipe to share.

3) Display your cookies on a plate, basket, plastic container.

4) Bring a container to take your cookies home in.

5) The number of people who brought cookies divided by 60 determines the number of cookies per batch you can take.

6) Ready. Set. Go. Round the table you go.

7) Socialize and talk.

So are you curious as to which cookie I brought to the exchange? Well, it was the Coconut Pyramids. Surprised? They were wonderful and so easy to transport to the party.

Do you wonder what happened to my other cookies? The Whoopie Pies went to the Christmas Potluck at work. People raved over the marshmallow creme filling and decorative squiggles.

The Sarah Bernhardt cookies were placed individually in candy wrappers and into gift bags for co-workers. These cookies are gluten free and several of my friends with gluten allergies were thrilled.

It was a long month of baking, but now I have a variety of cookies to share for any holiday celebration. Merry Christmas and happy baking!

Cookie Exchange Countdown: Coconut Pyramids

Today is the day for the cookie exchange! I made my final cookie to bake and it was grand!  My December 3, 2011 post showed the cover of Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies (circa 2001). The top cookie on the heap is the one I chose as my challenge to bake. It reminded me of a Christmas tree. It was frustrating to figure out how to form the pyramid, but with practice, it turned out to be a fun cookie to make.

Coconut Pyramids

Makes 45 cookies

 1 ¾ C sugar

5 ¼ C unsweetened shredded desiccated coconut

7 egg whites

Pinch table salt

2 TBSP unsalted, melted butter

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 oz semisweet chocolate

½ tsp vegetable shortening

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together sugar, coconut, egg whites, and salt. Add butter and extracts, and combine well. Refrigerate at least one hour.
  • Moisten palm of hands with cold water. Roll 1 TBSP of the coconut mixtures in palms, squeezing tightly together 2-3 times to form a compact ball. Place ball on a clean surface, and using a pastry or bench scraper, flatten one side at a time to form a three=sided pyramid. Keep turning the pyramid onto another side, and repeat process until all sides are even and all edges are straight.\
  • Place pyramids on the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart, bake until edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool completely.

  • Place chocolate and shortening in a small heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted. Dip the top ½ inch of each pyramid in the melted chocolate. Set each dipped macaroon on cooled baking sheet; let chocolate harden.

Sweetened coconut variation: substitute ½ C sugar, 4C sweetened angel-flake coconut, 3 large egg whites, ½ tsp almond extract and ½ tsp vanilla extract. Follow procedure above using same amounts for other ingredients. 

Dough may be made up to one week in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

Patty’s Points:

1. I made the cookies in two separate batches: sweetened and unsweetened coconut. The unsweetened coconut variation was easier to work with and to form the pyramids. I think the fine shred of the coconut made all the difference.

2. Believe it or not, with practice, making the form of the pyramid was not that difficult.  I believe it really had to do with having the right ingredients and the right tools. I never owned a pastry/bench scraper until making these cookies. What a fabulous and useful kitchen tool!

3. My husband took the first batches of cookies to his work potluck. The leftover cookies lingered on after the lunch into the department kitchen. The next day he went in to pick up his container and on the white board was written “Best Macaroons Ever!” Wow! The funny part of this was my husband wasn’t sure what a macaroon was. He did a internet search to make sure it was my cookies.  Ha ha!

I’ll be posting pictures of the cookie exchange later. As a teaser I can tell you that there were some great variation of cookies I had never seen before.  Lots of fun!

Cookie Exchange Countdown: Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

The term “Diva” was most likely first attributed to Sarah Bernhardt, a dramatic and tragic French actress who was famous in the early part of the 20th century.

Andre bakes his way through Martha Stewart’s Cookie book  has an excellent history of the Sarah Bernhardt cookie. Apparently while Sarah was touring in Amsterdam, she tasted this cookie and the bakeshop owner named it after her. It was also a secret code during WWII as the cookies looked like radio dials. If someone asked for the cookie in a bake shop they identified themselves with the resistance.

The cookie exchange is five days away!! I have two more cookies to try before deciding which one to take. Like Sarah herself these cookies are divine but take some some finesse to perfect. The flavor combination of almond paste with chocolate makes me swoon. I had to try it at least once.

I stayed with the Martha Stewart Holiday cookie recipe theme. There are three parts: the cookie, the filling and the coating.

The cookie: I used a piping bag to form the cookies on the cookie sheet to bake. After they cooled I popped them into a plastic bag and put them in the freezer.

The filling: The filling has to be refrigerated for several hours or overnight. I used a piping bag to put the filling atop the cookies. Then they are popped back into the freezer to stay firm before applying the coating.

The coating: I balanced the cookie with filling atop a serving fork and poured the coating atop using a ladle. I then put them on a rack where the coating could drip off the cookie to a wax paper sheet below.

Patty’s Points:

1) Lots of steps that takes time and planning and a freezer to accommodate.

2)  Oh my gosh!! Messy!!! The coating was disastrous. I think it would have been better to place the cookies on a rack with wax paper below so that  I wouldn’t have to handle the cookies at all during the pouring of the coating.

3) Yummy! As I anticipated, the combination of almond and chocolate is melt-in-your-mouth wonderful.

4) I wrapped the cookies individually and placed back in the freezer to keep formed. I am afraid that once they come out of the freezer, they will melt easily.

As Sarah herself said, “He who is incapable of feeling strong passions, of being shaken by anger, of living in every sense of the word, will never be a good actor . . .”

Oh Sarah, you are Divine!

One more cookie to go!

Cookie Exchange Countdown: Whoopie Pies

It all started at the hair dressers…….I’m sure that’s how all baking stories begin right?

I was getting my hair done and reading through the Martha Stewart Living. Mmmmm…time to start thinking about baking, gifts, and COOKIE EXCHANGE. I’m excited about it this year. Too many years have passed where I was too stressed out to think about making five dozen cookies!

The Fearless Cooking Club is meeting at a neighborhood Cookie Exchange where 30+ people will gather. What kind of cookie should I make??? So many Christmas and Holiday sweets, treats, and bars to pick from. I am overwhelmed.

I pulled out several cooking magazines and found this Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine from, oh my gosh really? 2001? My how time flies. So many cookies have passed by in the past decade.

I have decided to try out two or three cookie recipes and then choose which one to bring. I saw this recipe for Whoopie Pies. Oh they looked so cute! I have never made them before and they are pretty popular right now in baking circles.

It was a perfect night to bake: seven inches of snow had just fallen, the temperature dropped below zero and the kitchen was warm and toasty.

Whoopie Pie is really a cake sandwich and that tastes like a Hostess Suzy Q. Here’s the cake recipe:

  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1TBSP baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in mixer. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Then add the dry ingredients a little at a time until completely mixed together.

I scooped the mixture into a piping bag to make similar sized cookies onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake the batter 4 minutes, turn the cookie sheet around, then bake another 4 minutes.

Cool the cookies on wire rack until ready to make the sandwiches.

The filling is Momma Reiner’s Homemade Marshmallow Creme  from Martha Stewart’s website. It consists of soft ball sugar syrup added to whipped egg whites.

Patty’s Points

1) The wet mixture of the cookie batter was pretty sloppy when the buttermilk and eggs were added. Mix slowly.

2) I spooned the batter onto the cookie sheet for the first batch. I then realized that if I was making a sandwich, both sides had to be the same size. That is when I pulled out the piping bag so I could control the size of the batter on the cookie sheet. It made a big difference in uniformity.

3) The cookies can be frozen in advance and should be separated by wax or parchment paper because they easily stuck together.

4) The marshmallow creme would need to be made right before making the sandwiches for presentation. In a pinch, you could buy marshmallow creme in a jar to save that step.

Yummy treat, but oh so messy. I would probably wrap them or place them in a secured plastic bag for the cookie exchange because of the messy factor. Since I work full time, I really want a cookie that will be ready to go in advance and easily transported to a party. Something to think about when choosing which cookie to take.

Martha’s cookie book has 100 cookies to choose from. What next? I’m thinking I’ll stay with something chocolaty. See you next time on the road to the Cookie Exchange!