Tuesday, December 6, 2011

C is for Cookie (#NYCookieSwap)

Would you believe me if I told you I had never been to a cookie swap before last Sunday?  I know, I know.  Me.  Never, ever.  But it's true.  And in true Melissa fashion my inaugural cookie swap was the mother of all cookie swaps: The Annual NY Cookie Swap.  This was a swap of food bloggers and media types (and their friends).  Organized by the awesome Bloggers Without Borders the proceeds of this year's swap benefited an amazing organizaion: Cookies for Kids Cancer.  And whoa - did the bloggers bring it.

The rules were simple:  for a $40 fee and a dozen cookies you were invited to an amazing lunch at Hill Country BBQ - oh the *brisket*- a few hours of fun, chatting, eating and networking, and COOKIES.  I thought I'd leave with a dozen, but, foodbloggers being the generous folks we are, everyone must have brought about 5x that amount so everyone left with quite the haul.  I wish I had taken pictures of what I brought home before my family devoured everything.  I'm not sure that a picture of a nearly empty and crumb-laden Glad container would prove to be very appetizing.  Suffice it to say everything was delicious and beautiful.  I am in awe of the talents of my fellow bloggers and bakers.

I didn't bring my "good" camera but did manage to snap some pictures on my iPhone.  Believe me - they don't do these works of art justice but you will get the idea.

All in all it was an amazing afternoon.  I reconnected with an old friend from college, met some wonderfully nice people, increased the number of people I follow on twitter, got *kissed* by Dorie Greenspan (I'll never wash my cheek again!) and had a blast.  Many thanks to Hill Country BBQ for hosting the event (and for my awesome dinner for two that I won in the raffle), KitchenAid, OXO, Bloggers Without Borders, Three Many Cooks, The Diva That Ate NY (check out her video of the event here), Hungry Rabbit NYC, One Tough Cookie, Glad and everyone else who organized such a meaningful and successful event.  If I left you out please let me know and I will edit this post.   I was honored to be a part of it and can't wait until next year.

If you are on twitter you can read all about the swap by searching on #NYCookieSwap.  Many people, more eloquent than I, have posted recaps, photos and recipe links.  If you are interested in contributing to Cookies for Kids Cancer (an extremely worthy organization that raises much-needed funds for pediatric cancer research visit them here).  You can also register with them here and Glad to Give will make a 10 cent donation for every treat you share this holiday season.

 I know my holidays will be a little sweeter for having been a small part of this event.

Mexican Wedding Cookies (top-most picture and my shared contribution [along with my friend, Jen] to the swap)
Yields approximately 4 dozen
Adapted from

  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup plus TBS confectioners' sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups finely ground walnuts 
  • Extra confectioner's sugar plus 1/2 tsp cinnamon for rolling the cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.  Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they form a fine meal.  Do not overprocess or you will end up with walnut butter.  Believe me - I've done this.  Then measure out 2 cups and set aside.
  2. Cream butter until fluffy (about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed in a standing mixer). 
  3. Add in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat for an additional 1–2 minutes. 
  4. Gradually beat in flour until it is incorporated.
  5. Turn off the mixer and stir in the ground nuts by hand.
  6. Shape dough into 1" balls, using about 1 TBS of dough for each. 
  7. Place 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment paper - makes for easier clean up!) and bake for about 15 minutes, turning sheet so that cookies bake lightly and evenly.  They shouldn't get too browned.
  8. Transfer to a rack, allow to cool completely, and roll in the mixture of confectioners' sugar and cinnamon.
 Cookies will keep for about 5 days in an air-tight container and are great with a strong cup of coffee.