Sweet treats



Christmas cookies are traditional in many cultures, are fun to make ahead of time and give as gifts at cookie swaps. Depending on the recipe, cookie doughs can be either pressed, rolled, molded, dropped, baked, cut into bars or deep fried. 

Some cookie swaps have a theme — one fun event is the Ugly Sweater Cookie Swap. Guests are encouraged to not only decorate their cookies with the tackiest, gaudiest sweater designs but to wear their ugliest, decoration-laden sweater as well, all the better with blinking lights. Hosting a cookie swap, unlike a diner party with a long to-do list, is a great way to bring together friends with much less effort. All you need to stage a casual get-together is to send out invitations, decorate a table for displaying the cookies, then prepare hot cocoa or coffee or serve wine. 

Practice the art of finding an easy recipe that looks like a lot of work went into it: rum balls and chocolate truffles seem like they’d require lots of baking acumen but most recipes are simple and need only a handful of ingredients. Best of all, no baking is necessary. 

Around the world, popular Christmas cookies include melomakarona (Greece), pizzelle (Italy), spritzgebäck (Germany and Alsace), springerle (Germany), Berner Honiglebkuchen (Switzerland), macarons (France), polvorones (Spain), speculaas (Netherlands), maslenki (Bulgaria), hojarascas (Mexico), casadinhos de doce de leite (Brazil), cocadas (South America), and Peppernuts (North America). 

Gingerbread cookies are especially popular shaped into little people or used to make elaborate gingerbread houses. Most importantly of all, baking cookies brings families and friends together. And who doesn’t want to leave a little plate of cookies for Rudolf and his reindeer friends to nibble on?