Holiday Cookie Exchange

A tradition I’ve started over the past few years to personalize holiday gifts to friends and family (and maybe save a few bucks between contract jobs and full time work), is to buy super cute Christmas plates and make a bunch of different goodies to give to people. The treats seem to becoming healthier with each passing year. I even buy red and green cellophane paper and different coloured ribbons to dress it up and make it look like a beautifully wrapped gift. My father taught me well =)

This year is my first holiday in California and the customs & border agents seem to frown upon food crossing between the US and Canada. And it would be a huge pain to pack anyway. I’ve recently heard of people talking about cookie exchanges and I really wanted to be a part of one, but shy away because most people use non-vegan products in their baking. Those of you who know me, know that I am not shy. So I hosted my own cookie exchange and it was super fun!

I set up the table with plates for sampling, water to keep hydrated during the afternoon of indulgence, and cute boxes for people to put their treats in.

I made my rice crispy squares again:

I also made peppermint bark. I used to love incorporating candy canes into my baking, but after going vegan, the ingredients on the mainstream ones kind of scared me. Until Terry found some that weren’t so scary, no high fructose corn syrup, no refined sugar, no red #5… We found them at Whole Foods :

http://www.trujoysweets.com/

I just melted some chocolate chips, crushed up the candy canes and stirred some of the crushed pieces into the chocolate:

I added a bit of peppermint extract and put this mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

I added the rest of the crushed up candy canes on top & put it in the fridge to harden.

When I was finished melting the chocolate I kind of paused to look at it. Terry asked me what I was thinking and I told him it would be much more fun to just start spooning out the chocolate to eat instead of making the bark. But I snapped out of it. I did however lick the pot when I was done haha ;p

Here are the finished rice crispy squares:

I made some rolo knockoffs from ohsheglows: http://ohsheglows.com/2012/10/17/homemade-rolo-knock-offs-vegan-gluten-free-5-ingredients/ (pictured on the right).

On the left of the above picture are snowballs. The recipe has been adapted from:

http://thehappyrawkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/03/fudgie-hemp-balls.html

14 medjool dates (softened by soaking them in warm water for 30-60 minutes)

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp raw cacao powder (or carob – it works well too)

2 tbsp raw shredded & unsweetened coconut

3-4 drops peppermint extract

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Form them into cute little balls and coat in coconut. Put them in the fridge to set. These are super fun for the holidays (or anytime really).

Here is the peppermint bark after it set in the fridge and I broke it into pieces:

Some of other guests brought cookies, biscotti with cranberry and pistachio (for red & green holiday colours) and brownies with white chocolate chips:

Here’s one of the goody plates I made up for sampling. It didn’t last long so I’m glad I made extras:

This was really fun and I look forward to hosting this again next year.

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