Cookie exchanges can be hosted in a variety of ways, and we’ve been to them all! There’s the laid-back exchange, where you bring your own container and sample the cookies, then pack up a few of every kind that you liked. There’s the hyper-organized one, where everyone is assigned to a particular category of cookies. Then, there’s the mack-daddy of all cookie exchanges, where the host gets prizes donated and everyone votes on their favorites. The winners can walk away with anything from gift certificates to kitchen gadgets and more!

Whichever way it is held, you are guaranteed to go home with some great recipes to recreate. But, what do you bring to the party to stand out from the crowd? Have no fear, we’ve collected three sweets recipes that will knock the socks off of everyone at the cookie exchange!

Raspberry Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies

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These cookies are perfect for those that like their sweets to be a little less — well — sweet. And when it comes to making a recipe for a cookie exchange, one that is less sweet will definitely stand out from the crowd! Cream cheese is whipped into the cookie dough to give it a distinct cheesecake flavor, and they get a double dose of raspberry with preserves in the cookie as well as in the thumbprint on top. These cookies are a hit with kiddos too — have them help by rolling the cookies in sugar or by making the indentation for the preserves!

Print Recipe
Raspberry Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies
You'll get double the raspberry with preserves mixed into the dough as well as in the center of the thumbprint!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add in 1 3/4 cups sugar, beating for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Stir in the egg, vanilla, and raspberry preserves until well combined. Next, add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Scoop the dough and shape into 1 1/2-inch round balls. Pour the remaining sugar in a small bowl and roll each ball in the sugar. Place on a large baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough. Press a small indentation into the center of each cookie with your thumb or forefinger, and fill each with about 1 teaspoon of the remaining raspberry preserves. Bake for 13-16 minutes, or until lightly browned around the sides. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before moving the cookies to a wire rack.

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Bars

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Snickerdoodles are cinnamony, sugary, buttery, vanilla-y yumminess all wrapped up into a baked good. Well, we are here to let you in on a little secret. Browning the butter before mixing it into the batter makes it 100,000 times more rich and delicious! Brown butter — in a nutshell — is just regular butter that is heated in a pan until it is foamy and the milk solids start to turn to a golden-brown color. The aroma is nutty and intense, and this simple addition enhances the classic flavors typically found in snickerdoodles. These bars may seem simple at first glance, but we guarantee that a plate of these babies will disappear faster than snow in the South!

Print Recipe
Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Bars
Brown butter is the secret to making these irresistible snickerdoodle bars disappear in a flash!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
9x13" pan
Ingredients
For the Bars
For the Topping
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
9x13" pan
Ingredients
For the Bars
For the Topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Once butter is melted, gently stir until it starts to get a bit foamy and turn light brown. Remove from the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Beat together the browned butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla for one minute. Next, add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt, beating until well combined.
  3. Spread the mixture into a greased 9x13-inch pan and smooth the top. In a separate small bowl, stir together 1/4-cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle the batter with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place the pan into the freezer for 20 minutes to cool the butter, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

Dark Chocolate Bacon Guinness Cookies

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You know that statement, “Bacon makes everything better?” No? OK, maybe we made that up. But whatever, it is totally true, especially when combined with three types of chocolate…and beer. These cookies are not only show-stoppers, but they perfectly straddle the line between sweet and savory with bacon mixed into the dough, as well as sprinkled on top. The Guinness enhances the dark chocolate, and the white chocolate drizzle balances out the flavor and keeps the cookies from being too rich.

Print Recipe
Dark Chocolate Bacon Guinness Cookies
Cookies are not just for kids! These adult-pleasers feature dark, milk, and white chocolate along with bacon and a bit of Guinness beer!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings
dozen
Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings
dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a skillet, brown the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then chop into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating for another minute. Pour in the Guinness, and beat until smooth. Combine the flour, cocoa powders, and baking soda in a separate bowl, then slowly add to the wet mixture. Beat until well combined. Pour in the semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 of the chopped bacon. Stir by hand until combined.
  4. Scoop out 2 tablespoon-sized scoops of dough and place onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until cookies are set.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven and let sit for a few mins on the baking sheet. Next, place the cookies on a wire rack to cool. While the cookies are cooling, place the white chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl and heat in 20-second increments, stirring after each time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the cookies with the chocolate, and then sprinkle with a bit of the reserved bacon.

Headed to a party and need to bring more than just some sweets? Check out our No-Fail Potluck Recipes for some of our tried-and-true favorites!

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Photo Credits: Christina Carter

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