My sister in law Joy makes the best sugar cookies each Christmas. They practically melt in your mouth. This year she graciously invited me to participate in her annual cookie exchange so I could share it with you. She and her friend Deanna started the cookie baking tradition over 15 years ago, when they were both newlyweds. They would spend a full day and night baking up cookies for friends and family.
Over the years they turned it into a cookie exchange and decorating party with each inviting three friends to join them. This quickly became a treasured invite with friends jockeying for one of the spots each December. I know one of my fellow attendees vied for her spot over the summer. Competition is fierce. It was serious business balancing keeping up with the decorating pros while having fun talking with the other guests.
The party is all about the sugar cookies. Those decorated cookies are fiercely fought over. I have a sneaking suspicion I was included so that I could share my cookies with the family. I have them stashed in the refrigerator and am trying to resist the lure of the sugar cookie. The recipe is one passed down by Deanna's great aunt who was a home economics teacher in the 1940's. It really is the best sugar cookie I have tasted. Wouldn't you love the recipe? Me too. Sadly the recipe was not part of the exchange. It seems some people still want to protect their family recipes and I understand. It is a recipe worth treasuring.
I love the tradition Joy and Deanna have created and the stories they have to share from over the years. If you have never organized a cookie exchange here are some tips I learned from them.
Hosting a Cooking Exchange
1. Invite 8 people, including the hosts to participate. Ask each guest to bring 7 dozen cookies individually packaged in one dozen. They should also bring rimmed cookie sheets to lay out their decorated cookies and transport the other cookies.
2. Host provides sugar cookies and frosting to decorate 1 dozen per guest. In this case Deanna and Joy partner. The year one of them hosts at their house the host makes the sugar cookies and frosting. The other makes the additional cookie so everyone goes home with 7 dozen cookies.
3. For the frosting Deanna and Joy provided bowls of frosting in several colors with accompanying bags of frosting for piping and decorating. They had lots of knives and glasses of water to dip the knives in when you wanted to smooth the frosting.
4. They provided a huge variety of sprinkles and colored sugars. Joy got hers at my favorite local baking supply store ABC Cake Decorating . If you don't have a local source there are many online sources including Sugarcraft.
Make a batch of your favorite sugar cookies and invite your friends over. I might not have the treasured recipe but I know that the recipe called for evaporated milk in the frosting so I found this one over at verybestbaking.com.
6 tablespoons butter, softened
5 ¼ cups sifted powdered sugar
½ cup evaporated milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract.
These beautiful pictures were taken by Nikki Nielsen, one of the guests. My flash was stolen so my photography has been severely limited. She did a wonderful job capturing the party!