Ok, here is the truth. I am taking a risk and being vulnerable.
I stink at baking cookies. Even slice and bake.
I am not exaggerating. In spite of loving to eat them, cookies are not my friend. (Neither are squirrels but that is for another post.) After all these years in the kitchen I have not made peace with cookies.
What bugs me the most about this problem is that cookies can be the gatherer's best friend, especially at Christmas time. Anyone can keep a container of Toll House Cookie dough on hand to cookie at the last minute. Add a scoop of french vanilla ice cream with a hot chocolate chip cookie on the side and your guests, or family, will feel loved.
But nooooooo. Not for me. My nemesis, the cookie, either gets undercooked or nearly charred. It is an attention problem, I know. The only thing you have to do with slice and bake is pay attention. That sounds so easy. And yet just recently I made a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that ended up being called biscotti. That is just not right.
When Christmas rolls around, sugar cookies have to be made. I distance myself from the project as much as possible to give the children the opportunity to have delicious cookies. I am a pretty fair cookie decorator and can assist with reading of the recipe and measuring of ingredients, but I tried to take a wide berth to let our youngest cook take the reins.
Watch what happens around your house when cookie baking starts.
"Whatca making?" they begin to ask. As soon as the dough is forming the pinching fingers begin to come out.
"Can I have a bite?" If I am cooking the cookies they have a better chance with the raw dough than they do the burned cookies. The repeatedly ruined cookies are probably why 3 of the 4 of the kids prefer the dough.
If hot cookies come out of the oven (eatable) they are like magnets. Bring out icing and even the most reluctant may join in and decorate.
Christmas is full of these kinds of gathering opportunities...it always has been.
The very first Christmas was surrounded by gathering after gathering after gathering. In two's and three's, with small groups and even multitudes. Groups even began to travel to get to the big event.
Why would that be surprising? The One who came as a baby was the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, who was all about gathering His sheep. Of course His birth would cause people to come together. His time on this earth was about relationship and connecting people to the Father so that they would know how loved they are.
Be on the lookout opportunities this holiday season. They could be in your kitchen or they could be anywhere at all. One favorite party is the Cookie Exchange. Done traditionally it can be quite laborious. Here are a few untraditional ideas that might make this party a bit easier:
Host a cookie making party. Instead of having your guests come with ten billion perfectly cooked cookies, invite them to the experience. Choose two or three recipes and make the cookies together. Have a tasting party and send them home with a tin full of cookies. Add some Christmas music and a few other snacks to eat while you cook. You will come away with stories about that night that will be told for years to come.
Make a recipe book. Have your guests bring one dozen precooked cookies and eat the cookies together (with milk.) Each guest could bring enough copies of each recipe (written on recipe cards) for each guest to have one. Turn on your holiday tunes and make a cookie cookbook out of your recipes. By punching a hole in the top corner of the cards you can tie them with a ribbon to hold them together. Create a cover card with the date on the front will be a keepsake for years. Gathering around the table to create will provide sweet space to talk about the holidays past and present. If you want to get to know this group better you could start by having each lady write a question for the group to answer. This would be a fun for small groups that have just begun to get to know each other.
Cookie Outreach. If you want to reach out past your group you could have each guest bring a one or two batches of cookies and a tin. As a group you could load all the tins with a mixture of cookies and write some holiday cards to attach. Loaded with a list of shut-ins or some people that need loving on this holiday take your cookies and head out to bless these folks with your cookies. If you are feeling feisty you could sing a carol at the door...but this is not a party requirement. Sharing a hug or praying for the person could be the best Christmas present they receive all holiday.
I would give you cookie baking tips...but I have none.
You are officially on your own with this one. However I could use your tips...you can leave them in the comments below.
Happy baking, friends!