Archive | December, 2014

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014: Portland

15 Dec

DSC_0287 Happy holidays, one and all! Since the first year of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I’ve looked forward to this time of year. Putting together packages and sending them off, then sharing the cookies I get in the mail, what a great tradition!

Per normal, I picked up some baking books from the library to get some inspiration. This year, I grabbed Cooking Light’s How to Bake and the Grand Central Baking Book, from a popular Portland shop famous for its cinnamon rolls. My recipe ultimately came from the latter.

Cranberry-pistachio shortbread seemed sufficiently festive and would likely ship well. I also tried another recipe of the same format: ginger-oat shortbread, which I sent to a cousin. Here’s how my cranberry-pistachio cookies came together:

DSC_0258 DSC_0260DSC_0275 These kind of cookies, i.e., when you roll up the dough and cut them into disks, are a bit difficult to cut evenly, so I almost ended up running out of dough (I always make 4 dozen, three for the swap itself, and one for my co-blogger). I had to do a bit of reshaping, but I ended up having exactly enough. Downside was I didn’t get to sample the finished cookie. But the oat-ginger variety tasted great, so I assume these turned out well too. And honestly, with as much butter as goes into a shortbread, it would be hard to be bad (I hope).DSC_0310 The three packages I received were lovely! Panini Happy dressed up chocolate chip cookies with writing on top, wishing fellow bloggers joy, hope and love for the holiday season. (The cookies surrounding them are chocolate surprise that Blaine and I made. They’re wonderful, with brownie-like texture on the inside.)DSC_0321 A blogger with The Big Fat Jewish Wedding and The Big Fat Indian Wedding sent a two-fer: a tin full of colorful sugar cookies and chocolate biscuits. DSC_0326 Mommy Powers offered oatmeal raisin walnut cookies, shaped perfectly and snug in a sleeve. And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Hannah’s wonderful biscotti, but of course she’ll be blogging about that herself. Loved the presentation on all these packages (something I’m still working on myself). Thanks to all for sharing these treats!

Finally, many thanks to Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil for all their work organizing the swap and working to help Cookies for Kids’ Cancer with Oxo as a sponsor to make it all happen! Until next year, cookie swap.

Food Blogger Cookie Swap IV: Denver

14 Dec

2014-11-30 13.22.52This was our fourth year participating in the food blogger cookie swap (you can check my posts from 2011, 2012, and 2013). Nora and I are both proud to have been with The Swap since the beginning and look forward to it every year! Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil organize it, and they deserve some major acknowledgement for their work. Thank you, ladies!

For my 2014 submission, I decided to make green tea biscotti. I made biscotti during my first year; I loved how they turned out and they were hardy enough to ship without worrying much about crumbling, etc. I got really into baking with machta powder a few years ago when a coworker requested Green Tea Cupcakes for his birthday treat. I decided to give biscotti a similar twist and see what happened.

Turns out there are tons of recipes out there for machta biscotti. The ones I made were most closely based on this delightful recipe from A Cozy Kitchen. I did decide I wanted to top mine with crystallized ginger, not turbinado sugar – but not so much ginger that you couldn’t taste the sweetly bitter, earthy flavor of the tea. I think I got a good ratio. I also used more almonds (about 1/2 C), and more tea powder (~3 tsp) than called for in A Cozy Kitchen’s recipe.

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Oh, and I also made five batches at once. Ha.

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I loved the texture on these, because they were hard enough to soften deliciously dunked in a cup of tea, but weren’t absolutely rock hard. Plus, from what I’ve seen, it appears that they arrived safely where I sent them! They were  mailed to Nora (naturally), as well as: Deb from Cooking on the Front Burner, Becky from The Cookie Rookie, and Tammy from Yours And Mine Are Ours.

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I received four absolutely beautiful packages of cookies this year. Nora and I always send each other a batch of our FBCS cookies along with the rest of our Christmas gifts. Nora’s cookies are always adorably packaged, and came in a little cardboard box with candy-striped twine this year. What a treat! You can read all about Nora’s delish pistachio/cranberry cookies on her related Portland 2014 Cookie Swap post.

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Katie of Butterlust sent me her mom’s Coconut Gingeroons. These puppies were so good! I love coconut anything, and the texture of these were lovely. Katie’s blog is a delight to peruse, if you have some free time. Katie, thank you so much!

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Laurie of Baking Adventures in a Messy Kitchen sent me these amazing coconut, cinnamon, and orchidea chip cookies! I learned that orchidea chips are sichuan pepper, lime, and orchid root. These cookies had a spicy, sweet, and perfectly salty flavor. Plus, my roommates were way wowed by the exotic theme! Thanks, Laurie.

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Trudy of Chocolate Castles sent me delicious shortbread cookies dipped in white chocolate! She even included a little thumbprint tool for thumbprint cookies – she says you can buy them on Etsy if you want one for yourself! Trudy, thank you.

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All in all, I lucked out this year, I think. Can’t wait for 2015!

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