This was my first year participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It was so much fun benefiting a good cause, I can't believe it took me so long to get involved.
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap brings together food bloggers from around the world to send and receive cookies. Each participant receives the addresses of three other food bloggers and sends each person on the list one dozen homemade cookies. The participant then received 3 boxes of cookies from three other bloggers. No one knows who they will receive cookies from until the goods arrive.
It costs each blogger a tax deductible donation of a whopping $4 to participate. Your task is to send out the cookies (all the same recipe) to the three bloggers assigned to you and write a blog post about it. This year, the money went to COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease. If you would like to get involved in next year's event, sign up here for Cookie Swap notificationsMany thanks to the brand partners, OXO, Dixie Crystals, and Land O'Lakes who sent us lovely gifts to encourage us along the way!
For my contribution, I wanted to create something special with a German holiday flair, especially since I was deep into German Christmas recipes for about.com. Fortunately, I had some packets of lebkuchen spice mix on hand. Lebkuchen is German gingerbread.
The spices in the mix contain not only clove, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon but also star anise, cardamom and sometimes dried lemon and orange peel. I added the packet contents to cookie dough and rolled the raw cookies in demerara sugar before baking.
I was sorry to not have extra packets of lebkuchen spices to include in my cookie packages. I thought bloggers would really appreciate something extra, especially from another country. Instead, I tucked in some packages of bourbon vanilla sugar popular with home bakers in Germany.
Here are the three lovely packages I received in order of arrival:
Adorable and delicious Chocolate Chip Peppermint Crunch Cookies from Lisa at Bloghetti.
Flavorful Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies from Jenni at The Gingered Whisk.
These beautiful and tasty Speculaas cookies from Becky of Becky's Baking Adventures.
You can use the links above to hop on over to their blogs to get those great recipes. All wonderful cookies for the holidays.
I've been traveling quite a bit lately. Lisa's cookies arrived right before Thanksgiving week which I spend in Switzerland. When I got back to NYC Jenni and Becky's cookies came right away. Less than a week after that I was off to Germany for three weeks (where I've already stocked up on new packets of lebkuchen spice!)
I had a LOT of cookies to eat up in as short amount of time. Fortunately, in between trips, I had helped organize a holiday party for my United Nations Spouse group. I brought the rest of the cookies to the event and they were enjoyed by myself and many other people from all over the world who love to sample American baked goods. Not a crumb left over.
I hope the bloggers enjoyed these Lebkuchen Bites as much everyone enjoyed their creations.
- 1⁄2 cup demerara or raw sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons lebkuchen spices (a good recipe for lebkuchen spice can be found here)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3⁄4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dark molasses
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Pour the demerara sugar out on a flat plate.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, lebkuchen spices and salt. Set aside.
- Beat the butter and dark brown sugar together on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the molasses and vanilla and beat until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue to beat to make sure everything in combined.
- Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until everything is combined.
- Taking one tablespoon full of dough at a time, roll the dough between your hands into a ball, then roll the ball in the demerara or raw sugar on the plate, place the cookies on the baking sheet.
- If the dough is too sticky or soft to work with, Cover the mixing bowl with plastic cling film and refrigerate the dough for 10-15 minutes. Wetting your hands slightly with water before handling the dough also can make it more manageable.
- Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms are slightly browned.
- Remove from oven, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.