Today is the day we post our cookie recipes and link them all up at Lindsay’s and Julie’s link party and we wash our hands of it. But it was so much fun!
They promise us there will be another next year – I sure hope so. This one was wildly popular – I think the end count of sign-ups was over 600 and although they originally planned it to be open to the US and Canada only, it ended up being in several other countries too – I don’t have all the stats but I’m sure Lindsay or Julie will post them. This was one impressive swap!
I signed up and stated my preference for naturally-sweetened goods. Because I was in Canada, Lindsay wrote to me to explain that the only other bloggers who had also specified naturally sweetened goods were in the US, and only one of them was willing to ship to Canada (the idea of the swap is that each person sends cookies to three people and gets three sets of cookies in return).
I didn’t mind, it was great just to take part!
I received my cookies from Meg at Harmonious Belly on Saturday and let me tell you, she made up for all three batches of cookies I could have received. These were amazing. I may or may not have eaten three in quick succession and called that my dinner for the night.
They are sweet morsels of spicy, warm, honey-sweetened goodness, topped with plum preserves made from plums Meg grows in her own backyard!!!!!!! (Yes, the cookies – and the plum preserves – are deserving of all those exclamation marks).
My mom was just in love with the preserves and was ready to place an order for a whole jar (I don’t think Meg sells them in a jar – but you should Meg, you should!)
I’m not really describing these cookies properly, so I will use Meg’s words to explain them to you: “These cookies are a take-off of the Russian gingerbread cookies called pryaniki. They were adjusted by The Nourishing Gourmet, and I adjusted them further. They are sweetened with honey and filled with homemade vanilla plum preserves (the plums grew in my backyard).”
Yeah, I was pretty chuffed to get this pretty parcel in the mail, let me tell ya.
As for my end of the bargain, what did I send to Meg, you ask?
Vegan, naturally-sweetened Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread.
The key with the swap was making cookies that would still taste as good on the day of arrival as the day of shipping. This was a challenge because a lot of my favourite cookies are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, but they would soften being in airtight containers to be shipped, and therefore would arrive just a soggy mess, or they would fall apart because they are too delicate.
Shortbread was supposed to be a little firmer, so hopefully would hold its shape and its firmness well during shipping. I wrapped each cookie in parchment paper, sealed the lot in a freezer bag and shipped in a cookie tin.
I cut out a few star shapes but didn’t send too many to her as stars, because of the risk of the ‘arms’ falling off during shipping. I went mostly with different-shaped circles as a safer bet.
I finished with a drizzling of dark, vegan 85% cocoa chocolate, melted. You can easily make this recipe non-vegan by using regular butter and regular dark chocolate, by the way. My natural sweetener was coconut sugar.
Here you go!
Anna’s Cookie Swap Peppermint Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
INGREDIENTS (makes 24):
1 cup Earth Balance butter (use the sticks)
3/4 cup coconut sugar
3 tsp peppermint essence
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 bar vegan dark chocolate for icing
1. Preheat oven to 275 F. Cut the butter into small pieces.
2. Cream together the butter and coconut sugar.
3. Add the peppermint essence (you can add a drop at a time and taste, if you’re not sure how minty you want it).
4. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, mix till it is well combined and forms a ball.
*Depending on how soft your butter was to begin with, you may want to refrigerate your dough for 10 minutes or so to set it, so it isn’t too soft when rolling out.
5. Roll out dough and cut cookies out using a cookie cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Keep a keen eye on these because you won’t be able to tell how done they are by the colour, due to the cocoa powder! They will firm up a little when cooling too, so don’t overcook.
7. When cookies are done, put on a cooling rack and allow to cool. Meanwhile, break up the chocolate bar into small pieces in a glass bowl and place over the top of a saucepan of hot water. Keep the water on a low heat, simmering, and allow the steam to melt the chocolate.
8. Once the chocolate is melted, take a teaspoon and scoop a little chocolate up, then just move quickly from left to right, drizzling the chocolate over all the cookies. It’s supposed to look messy, so don’t worry about it being perfect! That’s the brilliance of a drizzle ;).
9. Place into the fridge to set the chocolate, then package up and ship, or – you know, for most of us – just indulge at home :).
Nutritional information below is per cookie if recipe makes 24: