Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - November 25, 2011

Don't wait until the holidays to start planning your annual cookie exchange

'Tis the season for delicious treats and festive gatherings. The fun of baking, sharing recipes and getting together for holiday parties, such as a cookie exchange, are what make the season extra special.

For those looking to create the ultimate cookie exchange, Hershey's Kitchens Linda Stahl and Betty Crocker Kitchens Kristen Olson offer the following tips to turn any party into a sweet success:

* Invite guests at least two weeks in advance and ask each guest to RSVP with the recipe they plan to make to avoid duplicates.

* Ask each guest to bring at least a half dozen cookies for each person attending the party.

* Encourage participants to bring an empty, sealable container to take home goodies, along with copies of their recipe to share. Be sure to have extra bags or containers on hand for guests to transport cookies home.

* Make it personal -- showcase the cookies in a decorative arrangement and ask each participant to introduce themselves and explain why they chose their recipe and what ingredients they used.

* Be sure to offer refreshments, such as seasonal beverages, but keep it simple so the cookies are the stars of the show.

* Send guests home with a goodie bag filled with a homemade recipe booklet you've created to commemorate your party. Ask for participants' recipes in advance so you can prepare.

Can't decide what holiday cookie you should make as the host? Try the classic Peanut Butter Blossoms.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Ingredients:

36 Hershey's Kisses Brand Milk Chocolates

1 pouch Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon water

1 egg

Granulated sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Stir cookie mix, oil, water and egg in a medium bowl until soft dough forms. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about three dozen cookies.

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