My daughters and I were invited to a holiday cookie exchange. I had read endless blogs and articles about holiday cookie exchanges, and they seemed, well, complicated.
I’m an educated woman. I have successfully fed more than 40 people warm spaghetti and meatballs at the same time—that is absolutely no small feat. But these holiday cookie exchanges with all their rules including no chocolate chip cookies and guidelines about bringing four and a half dozen to account for breakage? They made my brain turn to oatmeal … and not oatmeal cookie dough, unfortunately.
The holiday cookie exchange coordinator, however, made it seem simple enough. Bring three-dozen cookies: One dozen to exchange and two-dozen to donate to the local fire department. Simple enough, right?
“Oh yeah,” came the next message after the e-invite, “No chocolate chip, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies. Also, please don’t bring any store-bought cookies either.”
And just like that, she shot down my whole cookie repertoire. I contemplated just exactly what she would do if my girls and I showed up with double-stuffed chocolate sandwich cookies. But then I thought better of it. I would hate to be saddled with the distinction of being the woman who was kicked out of the holiday cookie exchange. But, the thought of coming home with three-dozen double stuffed chocolate sandwich cookies was kind of appealing.
When I realized I would have to share the cookies with my daughters, I decided to just bite the bullet and find some sort of fancy-schmancy cookie recipe and get to baking. And, of course, I involved my daughters in the decision of which cookies we’d make.
I scrolled through a cookie website with my MacBook on my lap and a daughter on each side.
I smiled when I began reading off the recipes; I could almost taste them.
“Cranberry chocolate…” “No cranberries.”
“Raisin pomegranate…” “Too many fruits.”
“Molasses…” “Nothing sticky.”
“Walnut…” “No nuts.”
“Zesty…” “Nothing Italian.”
Almost every idea was shot down. In desperation, I asked them for suggestions. They decided chocolate was a necessity. Sugar was a necessity. Creamy something would be good, and of course, it couldn’t be full of fruits, nuts or anything else their momma might deem as delicious.
Pretty much, they wanted an Oreo.
And to be really honest, I could’ve gone for an Oreo about that time. So, we ran to the grocery store to pick up the basics: flour, sugar, real vanilla, butter. We also grabbed a package of double-stuffed chocolate sandwich cookies. You know, nothing says the holidays like crunchy cracker cookies stuffed with cream-flavored lard.
If I’m honest, which I almost always am, I kinda turned the girls loose in the kitchen. I gave them a couple basic recipes and let them try their hands at creating a new recipe. It was hard to leave them alone in the kitchen, so I grabbed the package of chocolate sandwich cookies and snuck away to my room to read about the last Kardashian fiasco. For a brief moment, I wished to be a Kardashian, if only to have a private chef who would make us some cookies.
Our quest for a new cookie quickly turned into a culinary Goldilocks story. The first batch of cookies was too hard. (How hard were they?) I thought I was going to have to throw the pan away because they had cemented themselves to the cookie sheet.
The next batch was too soft. They were so soft that the pre-emptive parchment paper floated to the top of the batter before they finished cooking.
Unlike Goldilocks, the third formula was not the charm. Neither was the fourth, fifth or sixth recipe.
I considered rescinding our positive RSVP. The girls would be crushed, to be sure. But, I still had a half a package of chocolate sandwich cookies that would surely appease them. Then, we hit pay dirt. Or really, dirt cake.
“I wish we could just make dirt cake,” sighed one of my daughters. “I know how to make dirt cake really easily.”
At this wistful and wishful comment, I was carried back to a like-minded friend who had crushed sandwich cookies and mixed them with cream cheese before rolling them into little balls and dipping them into melted white chocolate. I believe she called them easy truffles.
We could give them a holiday name and call them Reindeer Pellets.
Or maybe not.
We’d call them Dirty Snowballs.
A quick search of Pinterest told us that we did not invent this recipe, but we were the only ones at the exchange with those cookies.
We came home with a few recipes to put into our pert-near empty arsenal and a dozen cookies that were either store bought or predominately chocolate chip cookies.
I hope Santa was watching how nice I had been at following those rules.
Heather Davis is a momma, a writer and a lazy chef. She is the author of the TMI Mom book series and lives with her husband, two daughters and a hidden stash of store bought cookies in Oklahoma.