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Thu, Dec. 05

Snickerdoodles the base of great holiday cookie exchange

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

I didn't know that I had missed it until I was reunited with it. After living in Arizona for a few years, a cookie exchange brought me back in contact with one of the cookies I crave - the snicker doodle.

Once reunited, I began baking snicker doodles over and over, perfecting the cookie to my specific liking. At this time I also began the wonderful holiday tradition of a cookie exchange.

Bakers, neighbors, co-workers, and family can participate in a cookie exchange. Each participant brings three to six dozen of his/her favorite cookies and leaves with a variety of cookies from the group. 'Tis the season for sharing and sweets and variety is the spice of life (and cookies).

I think cookies are the perfect food. One cookie (or three) might be just what's needed to curb the appetite, get through a tough afternoon, or as the ultimate late night (late afternoon, late morning) snack with a glass of milk.

I love cookies. In my 30-plus years (that long?) of baking, I've finally figured out that cookies are what I crave. I've made coffee cakes, pies, tortes, muffins, and cupcakes and find that there's nothing like a good cookie or two. They keep well either cooked or raw for days - if you can keep them around that long.

So which cookie will be the contender for this year's exchange?

While shopping recently I saw a book called Cookies by Martha Stewart. The cover photo was a Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookie that looked better than and more enticing than a centerfold. The cookie was quite photogenic and drool-inducing - I had to bake it, eat it, have it, share it.

I requested the book through my local library and was to have it in my eager little hands within a week (libraries can fulfill dreams). I was ready to embark on a fantastic cookie ride with the help of an ex-con (thank you Uncle Sam for your fully baked prison rehabilitation programs). Okay, so I don't know whether Martha learned these recipes in the big house, but they're a big hit in any sized house.

I kind of set the stage for my cookie baking whether everyday baking or holiday baking, making sure my schedule is free to bake, the fridge was stocked with milk, and I put on appropriate music for the occasion.

A gingerbread cookie is perfect for the holiday and this recipe uses both fresh and ground ginger, some other spices, molasses and, of course, chocolate. I opt for a combination of chips and chunks - both dark chocolate with a cacao range of 65 - 72%. The recipe resembles a snicker doodle (my lost love) in that you refrigerate the batter to firm and then roll into balls and dip into sugar before baking. It is such a unique blend of flavors that I almost wasn't sure whether I liked it at first, but I didn't not like it, you know what I mean?

Remember, though, when hot, food does not expel all its flavors or the high temperature doesn't allow our taste buds to fully appreciate that which is ingested. I find that if I wait until warm (or cool) the flavors are able to meld, which can bring about measured improvement to the taste. But then again, I love a warm cookie. Oh the convoluted path to the ultimate cookie heaven.

Due to copyright laws and me not really knowing Martha (though a friend's cousin is married to her ex son-in-law), you'll have to do your own search for these amazing cookies. They're called: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie. It's the thought that tastes so good! Eat well.

Email your questions, comments, concerns, recipe ideas or stories to: delish@inbox.com

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