Baking for a Cause: The 2012 Blogger Cookie Exchange

The holidays provide us with a good opportunity to help others and to share love through cookie baking. This year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012. Each blogger bakes three dozen cookies and sends one dozen to three other food bloggers. There is an element of mystery in the process, since we are not allowed to contact our cookie recipients before sending toothsome morsels their way.

The cookie swap also functions as a fund raiser for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a New Jersey-based charity founded by two employees of the company that makes Oxo “Good Grips” tools. The two Oxonians were inspired by the son Liam’s battle with pediatric cancer. Last year, sales of the company’s “Be a Good Cookie” spatula raised over $250,000 for pediatric cancer research.

Cookie-baking bloggers were asked to make donations to the charity, with our donations matched by Oxo. Participation in the cookie swap held particular meaning for me this year, since my mother in law lost her battle with cancer and my sister underwent cancer surgery in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

I decided to make Chocolate-Hazelnut Drop Cookies, which can be found in the Giada
DeLaurentiis cookbook entitled “Weeknights with Giada” and is also featured on the Food Network website: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chocolate-hazelnut-drop-cookies-recipe/index.html

Ingredients
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
• 1/4 cup plus 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, at room temperature (such as Nutella)

Directions
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With the machine running, gradually add the flour until incorporated. Beat in the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, drop 12 balls of dough onto each baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms of the cookies flatten out slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Place 1 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl. In batches, roll the cookies in the sugar until coated. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

The day after I mailed my cookies, I received a tin of a dozen peanut butter sandwich cookies from Eleana of the blog Chou Down. Eleana used a recipe created by Thomas Keller of Bouchon Bakery, Pe Se and French laundry fame. They were redolent with the scent of butter and peanut butter-my family stood over the tin and inhaled them!

Thanks to Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen for organizing the cookie swap.

Beth Christian subsisted primarily on cheeseburgers and liverwurst sandwiches during childhood and refused to try most new foods.  Her culinary horizons were expanded during her college days in Schenectady, New York, where she learned the joys of trying slow-simmered Italian dishes, Szechuan cuisine, and everything in between.  When not engaged in the practice of law in Monmouth County, Beth is busy scouting out interesting restaurants,  farmer’s markets and food purveyors near her home in Burlington County. Beth’s primary dining sidekick is her husband John, but she also enjoys having her daughter Meghan, son Michael and her wonderful friends come along for the ride. Email Beth at BChristian@JerseyBites.com

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