Stepping Out

Festive moments in the kitchen: Host a holiday cookie exchange


That aroma of fresh-baked goodies wafting through the house is surely a signature of the season. Make merry by hosting a cookie swap party, where guests bring cookies and enjoy some sweet tastes. Everyone can get in on the act and share their creations all around in your makeshift holiday workshop.

Refresh those holiday favorites. Sure, chocolate chip and gingerbread cookies are classics, but find inspiration in trying something new, such as a peppermint mocha chip version.

Peppermint Mocha Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided
  • 1 1/2             cups granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 12 soft peppermint candies, crushed
  • Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease or line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt butter and 1 cup chocolate morsels in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.

Transfer chocolate mixture into a large mixer bowl; add sugar and beat until combined. Add coffee granules, vanilla extract and peppermint extract; beat just until combined. Beat in eggs. Add flour and baking powder, mixing until all is incorporated. Fold in remaining 2 cups chocolate morsels.

Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart, using a medium size cookie scoop. Sprinkle each cookie with a little of the crushed peppermint candies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set. Allow to cool for about 2 minutes on baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 36 cookies.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

  • 48 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Using an electric mixer, beat shortening and peanut butter together until creamy. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beating dry ingredients into wet mixture until dough forms.

Using your hands, shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll shaped balls in granulated sugar; turning completely to coat. Place sugared balls of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for easy clean-up.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies turn a very pale brown. Immediately remove sheet from oven and press a Hershey’s Kisses candy into the center of each cookie. Carefully remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store airtight.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.


  • 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Nestle Holiday Morsels
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour; stir in morsels and nuts. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sift powdered sugar over hot cookies on baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired.

Store in airtight containers.

Dreidel Hanukkah Cookies

You can't spin these dreidels, but you sure can gobble them up. The versatile dough can be customized to create chocolate or colored cookies.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Dreidel-shaped cookie cutter
  • Piping bag
  • Blue frosting

Cookie dough: In a medium-size bowl, mix the flour and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, stir in the egg, then the corn syrup and vanilla extract. One third at a time, add the flour mixture until thoroughly mixed.

Pat the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm enough to roll. If it is too firm, soften at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Roll one disk of dough between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap, 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top sheet and cut out the cookies with cookie cutters.

Using a metal spatula, transfer the shapes to baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies start to brown lightly around the edges. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.

Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to racks and cool completely before frosting and decorating. Makes 12 to 50 cookies, depending on their size.

For chocolate dough: After the last third of flour has been added to the dough, mix in 1 ounce melted, slightly cooled unsweetened chocolate. Use your hands to knead in the chocolate.

For colored dough: Divide the dough into portions and use a toothpick to add food coloring paste (available at party supply stores) to each one. Knead until the color is evenly distributed. For a flavor surprise, omit the vanilla extract and add 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to the yellow dough, mint extract to the green dough, and strawberry extract to the red dough.

How to prepare: Cut out the dreidels from the rolled-out dough and bake as directed (if you can't find a dreidel cookie cutter, make a pattern out of lightweight cardboard). When cooled, pipe one of the four classic dreidel symbols on each cookie (either gimel, shin, nun, or hay) with blue frosting.