For home cooks, a favorite holiday tradition is a cookie exchange and chewy molasses cookies will be your new go-to. Everyone brings a batch of their finest and goes home with an assortment. It’s not too late to invite your besties over for some good cheer and cookies and it couldn’t be easier if you follow Secrets of a Home Cook’s three simple stress-free guidelines:
The invitation: Quite simply, everyone brings their own batch of cookies, then, swaps cookies with everyone else. The result is nothing less than the most beautiful platter of homemade love to take home and enjoy. Ask your guests to bring a batch of cookies (typically 2-3 dozen) and that’s it. If you request several batches, a particular kind or (even worse) a specific recipe, you will be too bossy and no one will come.
The decoration: The dollar store is one-stop shopping for all your cookie exchange supplies. There you’ll find festive tin, ceramic and heavy plastic plates for your guests to build their own cookie platters. You can also find paper goods and plastic wrap to ensure no cookie goes astray. Don’t forget name tag-type stickers and sharpies so there’s no cookie platter confusion.
The cocktail: It’s not a holiday party without holiday punch. Hot cider punch is an SHC classic: In a large pot heat 1 gallon apple cider, 2 cups orange juice, juice of two lemons, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 4 cinnamon sticks, ½ cup sugar (add dark rum or bourbon if it’s after 6).
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup sugar for dough + ¼ cup sugar for rolling
- 1/3-cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3-cup molasses
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, egg, ¼ cup of sugar, brown sugar and molasses (make sure the butter is slightly cooled so it does not cook the egg). In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, pepper and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Chill in the fridge 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place remaining ¼ cup of sugar in a small bowl. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls, then roll into sugar. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies are cracked and puffy. Cool and transfer on wire racks.
30 minutes chilling time