Confessions of a First-Time Cookie Exchange-er

Wanna know a secret? I am terrible at baking. Cooking I've got down--I can improvise that if I need to. Baking, however... not so much.

As a rule, I love the challenge of making things healthier than they are supposed to be. I love substituting less healthy ingredients with super foods, or subbing sugar for natural sweeteners, or baking things that are traditionally fried. I love saltless recipes, much to the chagrin of my fella. I love vegan twists on tradition, I love sneaking vegetables into things, and I love the idea of cutting out the fat/oil/butter needed to make cookies.

If you bake, you know that reducing a cookie's fat content simultaneously reduces its likeness to an actual cookie. My go-to cookie is not even based off a recipe, but is more or less me throwing a bunch of oats and trail mix type ingredients into a bowl, slathering it all with some coconut oil and peanut butter, and hoping for the best when it all goes in the oven. Don't get me wrong--these cookie-ish concoctions are delicious. But they are more like granola clumps than cookies, per sé. 

This fall, a friend of mine asked me to co-host her Christmas Cookie Exchange. She's been doing the exchange for years, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I announced in September that I was going to make peppermint Macarons. Yeah...that was destined to fail. In October, I announced that I had decided to make snowflake sugar cookies instead. By the beginning of November, I changed my mind again and decided I needed a much simpler approach. I am a novice cookie maker, after all.

Eventually, I decided on a Chai Spice Snickerdoodle recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen. It seemed simple enough, and I am a sucker for all things Chai. I even used the ingredients exactly as they were laid out, without attempting to sub anything or improvise. And guess what?? My cookies tasted like cookies.

Two things: this is by far the most amazing raw cookie dough I have ever pigged out on, and holy moly does the house ever smell magical while these bad boys bake.

A photo posted by C.Lem (@creativeclementine) on

Notes if you use this recipe to make a million cookies like I did:
A quadruple batch of cookie dough make about 13 dozen cookies. A double batch of sugar topping was more than enough for a quadruple batch of dough--- don't make 4 batches of sugar if you're making 4 batches of cookies. About one batch of sugar for every three batches of cookies will do. Leftover chai spiced sugar is never a bad thing, though.

Full disclosure: I flaked and added a few minutes to the bake time for these puppies. They were not the soft, delicate snickerdoodles they were meant to be. But this is entirely my fault, and not the recipe. It's just that part of me that insists on changing things. And there may have been an external influence in the form of my fella over my shoulder telling me the cookies didn't look done, and me believing him because he's older and wiser and more experienced in baking cookies than I am. So, crunchy snickerdoodles are what we ended up with. Still tasty, though.

Here are some updates via my Instagram:

A photo posted by C.Lem (@creativeclementine) on

A photo posted by C.Lem (@creativeclementine) on

Since I was co-hosting the party, it was up to me to make sure things were pretty and whatever else cookie exchanges are supposed to be. Using the search power of Pinterest, my friend pointed me in the direction of some awesome printables and prize ideas.

I picked up some adorable eco take-out containers from our local wholesale store, and we dressed up some paper lunchbags with doilies for my friend. In the end, I think we had a pretty cute set up. Here are the links to the pretty tags and printables we used for the party/our packaging:

Are you a terrible baker?? Do you participate in a Christmas Cookie Exchange?? Tell me all about it in the comments. :)

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  1. I am CONSTANTLY trying to incorporate healthy ingredients into our dinners, much to the chagrin of my fella too! :) Every time I want to put something healthy in a usually fried/fatty dinner he's always like "Oh, no, you're not gonna mess up this meal with THAT are you?" And by THAT he means veggies. Hahaha. And those printables are just lovely! I'm so glad the cookies came out tasty! :)


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