This time of the year is so fun! Christmas lights everywhere, spending time with friends and family, and the parties are endless! My neighbor and I had been trying for a year and a half to get together. Ever since we moved in next door, we’ve both just been too busy or couldn’t coordinate our schedules to meet. Imagine my delight when I got a FB party invite over to her house on a night I had absolutely nothing planned!?!? I was sincerely elated! Until…
I realized it was a cookie swap.
PUMP THE BRAKES! Sincere panic swept through me. In my 28 years of living, I have never made homemade cookies. Like…ever. Where I’m from, cookies come in a plastic tube with a happy dough-man printed on the front. I typically slice them off and bake them in the oven or microwave them for a couple minutes if I’m feeling especially impatient. I couldn’t possibly show up to a cookie swap with those cookies. What to do, what to do?
Pinterest…duh! I looked through a multitude of cookie recipes until I found one that I liked the sound of. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip. Another friend of mine makes the best chocolate chip cookies and she adds sea salt to them to give it just the slightest bit of saltiness. I go crazy for them! I was thinking this recipe may sound like a winner. As I read over the directions though, it sounded super complicated and I was ready to throw in the towel. Ask me to cook dinner and I can whip up something yummy…ask me to bake and I’d rather just shoot myself in the foot. You’d probably like to do the same if forced to eat my baked goods…
I decided to google salted caramel chocolate chip cookies instead. I found what I thought was a much simpler, but still homemade recipe here. I purchased all the needed ingredients and set up shop the night before the party to start the process.
I was starting to feel a little bit better about making cookies from scratch. I had given myself the appropriate “put-your-big-girl-panties-on” pep talk, assembled all the ingredients and tools, and cleaned the kitchen before starting. Then I remembered the one tool I don’t have that would have made this task much easier. A stand mixer. If you read my Un-Traditional, Traditional Thanksgiving post, I ran into this problem making a pumpkin cheesecake. You’d think I would have learned my lesson…but naw.
Nevertheless, I continued on my journey. However, I have decided that I need a stand mixer. It is a necessity. My poor hand blender started to give up about halfway through mixing the first batch. We took a little break. I had to give Mr. Blender a pep talk and wipe the ashamed tears from his eyes, but he agreed to carry on to the end. Also, my right arm has some newly acquired muscles from mixing on that side. I swear my shirts don’t quite fit my right arm now!
I needed to make 4 dozen. I doubled the recipe and made them slightly smaller. It directs you to make each cookie two tablespoons in size. I did a little over one tablespoon. Also, I baked them at 340° instead of the recommended 350° and 13 minutes worked quite well for me.
I baked my two batches and to my astonishment, they were quite delicious! Grayson was showering when the first batch came out the oven. I was so fired up that I delivered one to the shower and shoved it in his face with excitement! (sorry for the visual lol) I did get the second batch a little browner than I prefer, so I boxed those up and sent them with Grayson to work to share.
Fast forward to party time! I was so excited to get to hang out with my neighbor, meet her friends, and eat cookies, of course! I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch in preparation for the sugar feast that awaited me. I walked across the street with my cookies, nervous about sharing them with others since baking really is out of my comfort zone.
The dining room was laid out so beautifully! There was a plate for each lady to place 12 of her cookies for sampling. At the far end of the table was a pretty cool set up for the “Most Unique,” “Best Tasting,” and “Best Overall” cookie to be displayed. It reminded me of the winner’s stand at the Olympic Games. The “Best Overall” display was taller than the other two and featured a beautiful bell-shaped glass. It made me think of the rose display from Beauty and the Beast (my most favorite Disney movie). I longingly looked at that beautiful arrangement. Maybe one day, when I have a real stand mixer and don’t have to endure flour all over my floor, just maybe my cookie would be worthy of such a title.
I walked into the breakfast nook and was greeted by a beautiful glass of Winter Sangria made just for me. Made with white wine, fresh cranberries, and green apples, it was just the perfect party drink for a cookie swap! It was garnished with a sprig of rosemary that had been generally sprinkled with sugar! If this was the drink, I couldn’t wait to try her cookies!!
Each lady told a little bit about their cookie. Some shared that it was their Grandmother’s recipe, other’s said their cookies didn’t turn out the way they liked so they made different ones, and others just brought their favorites. When it was my turn, I shyly admitted that it was the first time I’d ever made homemade cookies from scratch. Que the gasps and “oh dear…really?!”s. I giggled and owned up to it. No need to fret, right?! It was almost time to EAT COOKIES! (*insert Cookie Monster voice*)
I made my plate and gathered with the other ladies in the kitchen. We all sampled cookies and discussed which ones we liked and shared recipes. Lots of sangria-induced giggling took place, too! I just love giggling! I made a small pile on my plate of the ones I liked the best. Once I had re-sampled them, I decided it was time to vote on my favorites. I cast my ballot and returned to my sangria.
Then came the announcement: “All the ballots are in! I’m going to tally them up!” I glanced again at the beautiful bell shaped display and reassured myself that maybe one day I could have that title.
About ten minutes went by. I was chatting with another girl and I felt a tap on my shoulder. “CONGRATULATIONS! You won Best Overall Cookie!!” No. Not my cookie?? There must be some mistake. I stole a glance at the bell shaped display and sure enough, there was MY cookie. My, mixed-with-a-hand-mixer-flour-all-over-the-kitchen-slightly messy, salted caramel chocolate chip cookie. I swear it looked like a light from Heaven was shining down on it! Doves flew overhead. I squealed with excitement and jumped for joy! I began my “Thank-You” speech that I had prepared in the event something like this would happen…just kidding! I did thank everyone for being so kind to such an amateur, infantile baker like myself.
I enjoyed the rest of the party and bid everyone farewell. It was truly an awesome party with the absolute best hostess! I practically skipped back to my house!
I burst in the front door and couldn’t conceal the huge grin on my face. “How was it,” Grayson implored. “Best Overall Cookie!!!” I squealed! He just smiled and said he didn’t expect anything less from me. Such a sweet boy he is. He then proceeded to tell me that his friends at work were asking for another batch and asked if I could make some more…
Not anytime soon dear, sweet husband of mine.
As soon as the feeling returns to my now muscle-ripped right arm…you’ll be the first to know 😉
*A Special Thank-You to Alicia Pajerski for hosting such a beautiful party!*