And it's time to wrap up this year's Food Blogger Cookie Swap! This is my second year participating, and I had just as much fun this time around as I did the first time. It was great getting to be part of such a great cause (if you didn't know, in order to take part in the swap, you have to first make a donation to Cookies For Kids Cancer, a fantastic nonprofit that works exclusively towards finding ways to combat pediatric cancer), and it makes the whole swap just that much sweeter. In the swap itself, you are randomly paired with three other bloggers, and to each you must send one dozen cookies, all from the same recipe. In return, you receive one dozen cookies from three other bloggers, so you end up with three dozen different cookies. It sounds a little confusing, but it's really quite simple once you get involved. Both times that I've participated, I haven't been able to decide if deciding what to bake or the waiting for my boxes of cookies to arrive in the mail is more fun!
While it's definitely a close call, I think that this year, I may have had more fun waiting for my cookies to arrive. I always have such a hard time deciding what to bake, because these aren't just any old cookies that need to be made- they need to be sturdy and durable enough to withstand a few days in the mail, yet still taste as delicious as they day they were made, if not better! Last year, I made these amazing Fudge Brownie Cookies with Cherries and Pistachio, but this year I wanted something completely different. Since I went with a chocolate cookie last year, I wanted this year's cookie to be completely chocolate-free. While browsing through recipes, I came across my favorite lemony thumbprint cookies, and I realized that might be the best option for the cookie swap. They're easy to make and definitely taste good after a few days (I know this from experience), so I figured they'd be ok to stand up to a few days tied up with the US Postal Service.
To update the cookies, I simply rolled the cookie dough balls in a little bit of egg wash followed by a quick toss in a pile of shredded coconut. Once that was done, the thumbprint process began. I simply pressed down in the center of each ball of coconut-covered dough to create a small well, which I then filled with raspberry or apricot jam. A short stint in the oven transformed the coconut on the outside of the thumbprint cookies into this lovely golden brown color, and the smell of toasted coconut married perfectly with the sweet jam on each cookie. It took several days to finally decide on a cookie, but once the cookies were all baked, I knew it was they had been the right choice. They just looked perfect!
Last year, I mailed my cookies in these adorable little metal tins, complete with a hand-lettered card. I wanted to pack them up a little bit differently this year, but I know I would be too short of time to come up with something super creative. Instead, I went with something a little bit simpler, in the form of a large glass Mason jar. At first I was nervous that the jar might break in transit, but once I actually got around to packing up my boxes of cookies, I realized that with the amount of bubble wrap and packing peanuts I stuffed inside each box, there was just no way the Mason jars could break (I did keep my fingers crossed at the post office though). I finished off the Mason jars with a simple red and white twine tied into a bow. As simple as my packaging was this year, I thought it showed off the cookies wonderfully.
My thumbprint cookies came out great, and I loved the contrast of the toasted coconut and fruity jam- the two went together seamlessly. As good as I thought my cookies were, I did get some great cookies in the mail this year! Cranberry oatmeal, dark chocolate cherry mint, and loaded fluffernutter cookies...can you say yum!? I was so happy with the cookies I received, thank you Kaylin, Renia, and Monica! Your cookies were all outstanding, and helped make this cookie swap so much fun. See below for the recipe I shared, and with that, it's time to wait for next year's Food Blogger Cookie Swap...I'm already excited!
Coconut Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Emeril Lagasse
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)
8 oz shredded coconut
1/2 cup good jam (I used apricot and raspberry)
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease or line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and whisk together until fully incorporated.
In the bowl of a standard electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolks, followed by the lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture in two additions, beating just until the the dough begins to clump together into a ball.
Divide the dough by the tablespoonful, and roll into smooth balls. Dip the balls of cookie dough in egg wash and then roll in shredded coconut. Place the balls on the baking sheet and, using your thumb, lightly create an indentation in the center of each ball of cookie dough. Place a small amount of jam, about 1/2 teaspoon, in the center of each indentation. Bake the cookies in the oven until the coconut is light golden brown, about 20-22 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies