Christmas cookie exchange party

Who can resist a sugar cookie with crisp edges and decorated top? Some people use a time-tested recipe passed down from generation to generation. Others prefer to be adventurous and try a new recipe each year. A recent holiday trend in the US is to have a Christmas cookie exchange party. It is both a chance to get together with friends and an opportunity to try new cookie recipes.

Organizing a cookie exchange party is easy. First, invite nine of your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors or anyone you know who likes cookies! Tell each person to bring 20 of their favorite homemade Christmas cookies. They should also bring ten copies of the recipe and a cookie tin.

At the party, exchange so that each person leaves with a tin filled with ten different types of cookie and their recipes. Be sure to have lots of milk for dunking and tasting!

Christmas sugar cookie recipe, from Real Simple magazine

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl or 64-ounce Pyrex cup. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and flatten each portion into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350° F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Scraps can be combined and rolled out again. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

3 dozen cookies