With the holidays around the corner, we definitely have cookies on the mind. Baking with kids is a fun way to get the little ones in the kitchen and teach basic skills like measuring, math and making a mess (and then cleaning it up)!
Consider hosting a “kid-friendly” cookie swap or attending one with your children to help you get in a festive mood. I can guarantee this is a party your kids will remember for a long time to come. You can throw a cookie swap party with minimal effort and get the children involved in all aspects of the party—planning, set-up, baking and clean-up. Hosting a party with your children encourages children to learn generosity and develop organizational skills, and it teaches responsibility.
If you are a baker, it is a wonderful opportunity to show off your cookie-making skills and enjoy the compliments that come your way. If you are baking-impaired and can make only one type of cookie, you end up with a bounty of cookies you could not even dream of making yourself. Last year, we hosted our annual holiday party right after a cookie swap we attended and people were totally blown away by the platter of cookies that was presented after the meal.
- Pick a date earlier in December, before things get very hectic for everyone. Children can help with making/designing the invitation.
- Keep guest list to a manageable number (8-12), so people are not overwhelmed by the number of cookies they have to bake.
- Consider exchanging recipes in addition to cookies. The kids can help you design the recipe cards and older kids can even make them. Also, knowing ingredients for cookies will ensure no one takes home a cookie with ingredients they are allergic to.
- Tell everyone to bring containers to take the cookies home.
- If sampling is allowed, have everyone bring some extra cookies. Regardless, have some healthy snacks and drinks on hand for everyone.
- For another twist on a cookie swap, try a cookie dough swap. Many cookie doughs can be rolled into logs, wrapped in a few layers of plastic wrap and stowed in the freezer, providing you and your friends with stash of homemade “slice and bake” treats at the ready throughout the holiday season. Make sure to include the name of the cookie and baking instructions with the dough.
Lemon Thyme Crisps
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
I’ve been making my version of these lemon butter cookies for years and years. They are simple to mix up, the dough freezes beautifully, and they have a surprise kick of lemon thyme which gives them a wonderful, complex flavor that pleases kids and adults alike. Chocolate is usually well represented at most cookie swaps, making this a nice choice to round out a cookie platter. It’s also an excuse to celebrate herbs from the garden that we are so lucky to be able to grow all year. If you don’t keep a pot of lemon thyme growing in your garden or by your back door, this recipe is a great reason to get one going!
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 Tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
2. With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until they turn pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
3. To the creamed butter and sugar mixture add the lemon zest, egg, lemon thyme, lemon juice and ginger. Mix well.
4. Mix in the sifted flour mixture one large spoonful at a time until well incorporated.
5. Divide dough in thirds and roll each piece into a log about 1 ½” in diameter. Wrap each log in several layers of plastic wrap and freeze. Dough will keep in the freezer, wrapped well, for several months. [Each log will make approximately 40 cookies.]
6. To bake, unwrap the dough and slice into ¼” thick rounds. Place the cookies on a parchment or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet, allowing several inches of space between each cookie because they will spread as they bake.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown.
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are San Francisco Bay Area moms and the creators of A Little Yumminess, a family food blog where they share spiced-up recipes and kid-friendly food adventures. You can also find them on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Stacie Dong and Simran Singh