Five years and 200 cookies later, here’s a holiday tradition I look forward to every December. Hannah and I have participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap since its first year in 2011, and it’s been a blast every year.
Not only does the swap benefit a great cause — Cookies for Kids’ Cancer — but it’s a fun way to virtually meet new baking bloggers and gives me a great reason to try a new recipe around the holidays.
As always, thanks to Lindsay at Love & Olive Oil and Julie at The Little Kitchen for organizing and creating the swap — and to Oxo, Dixie Crystals and Land O’ Lakes, which all partnered with the swap and sent along some great kitchen goodies.
In a search online, I became fixated on chocolate-espresso crinkle cookies and decided they would be the perfect recipe for this year’s swap. I also liked the idea of using an ingredient I haven’t used before: espresso powder.
Now, before I bake, I like to do some research. In past years, I’ve used various cookbooks to find my recipes, but this year, I decided to compare recipes on a few different websites to get an idea of the technique and tips for this type of cookie.
Here are the recipes I consulted:
Because I needed to make four dozen to send (three for my cookie swap matches, plus one for Hannah), I tripled the Martha Stewart recipe, which gave me plenty of wiggle room with 54 cookies. Here’s the technique:
The first step was melting the bittersweet chocolate. I typically opt for the double-boiler bowl method, since it gives me more control than melting in the microwave.
Then, while the chocolate cooled off, I sifted together the flour, cocoa powder and instant espresso.
The cooled chocolate then gets added to sugar and butter, which was creamed in a previous step.
After adding the flour mixture to the bowl, the dough needed some time to firm up in the fridge. I opted for an overnight chill, which made it much easier to roll out and work with.
The dough, rolled into 1.5-inch balls, got a hefty coating of powdered sugar before heading to the oven.
As you can see, the bake on these wasn’t consistent across all the batches. This project taught me just how wildly off my new oven’s temperature can be. Thank goodness for my trusty oven thermometer.
The cookies turned out chewy and rich, with the espresso powder adding to the flavor of the chocolate.
Once cooled, I packed up my crinkle creations in these penguin tins and shipped them off across the country.
Now for a shout-out to the bloggers behind the delicious cookies I got this year.
First were these festive, delicate and delicious pizelles (Italian waffle cookies) from Meggan at Culinary Hill. Loved the design and the flavor of these.
Next, in time for National Cookie Day on Dec. 4, I got these chocolate-dipped shortbreads from Melanie at Gather for Bread. Loved the addition of the orange peel and the various holiday shapes.
That same day, these tahini butter cookies arrived from Hannah, the other half of this very blog. They reminded me a lot of traditional peanut butter cookies but with a more savory flavor. And I loved the look of the sesame seeds on top.
Soon after, my third and final batch of official cookies arrived (Hannah and I swap on our own, as a bonus), from Lauren at Bite of Health Nutrition. She sent these rich and chewy coffee-cocoa-ricotta cookies, which also had a fabulous texture.
Thanks to everyone for sharing your cookies, and happy holiday baking!