What’s more exciting than receiving a package in the mail?
Receiving a package in the mail… full of cookies!
Despite writing here for over two years (!), I’ve resisted using terms like “food” and/or “blog” to describe what I do in my spare time. This hesitance is mostly due to crippling self-consciousness and a fear of failure. I mean, how can my sleep-deprived rambling and shoddy iPhone pictures compare to the exquisitely-produced posts of proper food blogs? It just doesn’t. I didn’t want to risk embarrassing myself by slapping labels around willy-nilly.
This year, however, I made the conscious decision to get over it. I swallowed my pride, fought back my anxiety, and signed up for my first official “food blog” “thing”: the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.
What’s more exciting than receiving a package in the mail, full of cookies?
Receiving multiple packages in the mail full of cookies.
A few weeks later, they started arriving from all corners of the country. From New York, gorgeous coconut thumbprint cookies, filled with raspberry and apricot jam and stacked high in a sweet Mason jar. From Nashville, cornflake cookies, chock-full of pecans and southern flair, with an iconic Goo-Goo Cluster thrown in for good measure. From the neighbor of my hometown, Long Beach, tender chocolate butter cookies, packaged in festive tissue paper and a cute holiday tin. I was beside myself with joy.
What’s more exciting than receiving multiple packages in the mail full of cookies?
Sending multiple packages in the mail, full of cookies.
The only thing more exciting than eating cookies four at a time was baking some myself. Being on a cardamom kick, I decided to highlight citrusy, light flavors and counterbalance the rich, intense eating of the holidays. These lemon cardamom wedding cookies from Carla Hall were the perfect prescription: perfumed with an addictive je ne sais quoi from the spices and subtly sweet thanks to a little romp in lemon sugar. My taste-testers adored their floral aromatic notes and delicate, airy texture. Once these babies were wrapped up and put in the post, I waited with bated breath to hear from my lovely recipients. Seeing their posts of gratitude pop up on Instagram under #fbcookieswap officially kicked off my holidays.
What’s more exciting than sending multiple packages in the mail full of cookies?
Sending cookies for a good cause.
The best part of all this wasn’t that I conquered my fear of being a “blogger,” or that I ate about three dozen cookies within the span of two weeks, or that I got to share my creations with others, or that I met awesome people doing wonderfully delicious things, or that I got my first free swag (a baker’s decorating kit from one of my favorite brands, Oxo!). Granted, those are all inexpressibly awesome things… but The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap has an even greater mission: fundraising for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer by the Childhood Cancer Foundation. Collectively, we raised over $12,000 alongside some fantastic partners. This really gets at what baking is all about, during the holidays and year-round: sharing, caring, and the indomitable spirit of giving.
Lemon cardamom wedding cookies
Adapted, very slightly, from Carla Hall.
I made about 70 bite-sized cookies (and I would know, as I was very careful measuring them out with a tablespoon scoop so that I had at least a dozen to send to each of my three matches). However, Carla Hall advises that their size will depend on how you’d like to present them; some may want to portion them so that they fit nicely into small cupcake wrappers. There was also quite a bit of lemon sugar left over at the end of the batch, so do with that what you will; you could certainly roll any number of other cookies in them or melt them into cinnamon roll frosting for a nice, sweet zing.
- 1 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 5 cups cake flour
- 1 cup walnuts, ground (if using pistachios, which I imagine would be phenomenal, add an extra 1/2 cup)
- 4 teaspoons lemon zest (for more complexity, sub out half for orange zest)
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 lemons, zested
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. You may want to pause the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl every once in a while.
- Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and salt; beat until combined.
- Add the flour and mix until almost fully combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together ground nuts, zests, cardamom and salt until combined. Add this into the butter mixture and blend until evenly distributed.
- Portion out dough and roll into balls. Place the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, trying to avoid brown spots but making sure the top is just firm to the touch. You may want to check on the bottom of the cookies to make sure they don’t burn, as well.
- Meanwhile, make the lemon sugar.
- On a piece of parchment paper, spread out the lemon zest and pop it in the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the zest gets barely crispy-looking. You don’t want any color on them; this is simply to dry them out so that they don’t clump up later.
- In a rimmed baking dish or pie plate, add the zest to the sugar and mix evenly.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool slightly. The cookie should still be warm when rolling in the lemon sugar.
- Roll the cookies to coat completely in the flavored sugar and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Reserve the remaining lemon sugar.
- When ready to serve or package, roll them again in the Lemon Sugar to heavily coat.