Be the star of your church or work cookie swap

Get perfect cookies every time with these 10 Smart tips from Megan McDonald, co-owner of The Broken Cookie in Hanover (Photo by Chris Dunn)

Get perfect treats for your cookie swap every time with these 10 Smart tips from Megan McDonald, co-owner of The Broken Cookie in Hanover (Photo by Chris Dunn)

It’s the moment when you pull cookies out of the oven — and find them burnt, flat and crumbling.

Panic sets in. Only an hour until the cookie swap. Only a trip to the grocery store will do.

To avoid such a disaster this year, Megan McDonald, co-owner of The Broken Cookie in Hanover, shares suggestions for at-home cookie makers.

1. Plan ahead. Depending on how many people who are involved, seven dozen to 15 dozen cookies could be swapped. “I’m sure people don’t have time to bake all day during the holiday season,” McDonald said. She suggested to make one batch one day, one batch another day. Then store the cookies in the freezer, up to two months, in a Ziploc container.

2. Make it fun. “We’ve heard some people do a contest — who has the most creative recipe, the most colorful recipe, the most ingredients, the least ingredients,” McDonald said.

3. Make your recipe card stand out. You want your recipe card to catch other swappers’ attention, so use colored paper, crayons and markers.

4. The proof is in the packaging. “Don’t just throw cookies in a gallon bag — you want someone to appreciate what you did,” McDonald said. At a craft store, you can find Chinese takeout containers, colored bags, colored bins or even Mason jars. Use ribbon to add flair.

5. Be brave and try cookie pops. “These would be a little bit more time-consuming,” McDonald said. Use a sugar cookie recipe and insert an ovenproof candy stick, which you can find at the craft store. Then — and here comes the time-consuming part — put on icing in layers, so colors don’t bleed. “Some people don’t have the time or counter space to let these cookies dry,” McDonald said.

6. Give them something to dye over. Want to be colorful but not spend all that time on icing cookies? Dye sugar cookie dough before baking. If you’re using Christmas tree cookie cutters, for example, dye the dough green.

7. Alter the recipe slightly. For sugar cookies, when the recipe calls for vanilla extract, try substituting almond extract or mint extract. For oatmeal raisin cookies, swap the raisins for cranberries. Instead of peanut butter cookies, make almond butter.

8. Two versions of no bake. If you’re really pressed for time (or don’t want to start the oven), you can layer the dry ingredients in a Mason jar, which makes it easy for a person to dump in a bowl and add a few wet ingredients. Or, you can find cookie recipes that don’t require baking.

9. Go for the bar. Use a standard cookie recipe, but bake it into a sheet pan, which will take less oven time overall because you get more servings at once. Then cut them into triangles, which will give your cookies a stand-out look, too. Just be sure to put them into a container so they won’t break.

10. Be creative, but not crazy. Don’t use ingredients like xantham gum and rose water. “You’re going to have to go to the ends of the earth to find ingredients,” McDonald said. Plus, people probably won’t like it, because it’s too odd or they’ll never repeat the recipe, she added.

Bake or buy?

If baking isn’t your thing, you can opt to buy “homemade” cookies by the dozen. Here are a few of the local bakeries you can call — well in advance of your cookie swap:

The Broken Cookie in Hanover offers royal iced cookies, popular for favors and at Christmastime. It also sells gourmet cookies like chocolate chocolate chip, coconut pecan, white chocolate macadamia nut. Can’t decide on a flavor? Opt for a cookie tray. The Broken Cookie is in the Clearview Shopping Center, 1000 Carlisle St. Call 717-698-1659 or visit brokencookie
hanover.com. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; closed Sundays.

Pomona’s Bakery and Cafe in Biglerville offers triple chocolate, chocolate chip, and orange cranberry pecan cookies. Pomona’s is at 213 E. York St. Call 717-677-7014 or visit pomonas.com. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; closed Sundays and Mondays.

Providence Divine Cakes and Pastries in the Olde Tollgate Village, 2515 S. Queen St., York Township, sells more than 15 different types of cookies, ranging from raspberry and caramel pecan to chocolate truffle-filled. Call 717-741-0120 or visit providencedivinecakesandpastries.com. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Download our app

Find more than 120 cookie, brownie and bar recipes on Smart magazine’s FREE Cookie Cookbook app for the iPad. Click here for more information or search “Smart Cookies” in the App Store.

Join us

We’ll be hosting our annual Cookie Contest beginning at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Kennie’s Market in Spring Grove. Thirty semifinalists will be vying for a top spot in our annual Cookie Cookbook, which will appear in the Dec. 11 edition of the Daily Record/Sunday News and Hanover Evening Sun. Stop by with you iPad for a chance to win gift cards and other goodies from Kennie’s Market.

Jess Krout

Multiplatform features copy editor at York Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter @JessKrout. Email jkrout@ydr.com or call 717-771-2002.

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