This time of year is so wonderful for bakers. All of the cooking magazines feature baked goods--unlike July and August when there's way too much about grilling, with a few fruit desserts thrown in. =) Heck, there are even whole special (newsstand) issues devoted to things like holiday cookies. I know, because I've purchased most of them. I've lost track of how many recipes I've bookmarked to try, but it's a lot. And on top of it, I even got a new cookie book from one of my favorite authors, Alice Medrich.
So there's lots of new stuff to try. A lot of the recipes are from pretty reliable sources, but sometimes things don't turn out. So how to know which ones are worth making? And of course there are all the recipes in my recipe box from when I was a kid. Nostalgic favorites, but even those often benefit from some tweaking. (For instance, lots of them use margarine, and don't always turn out quite the same when you substitute real butter.) It can get overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that we don't really need to eat all the cookies that I'd have to bake to really find the good ones.
Enter the idea of a cookie exchange. People bake recipes, then get together to sample everything and swap cookies. We all get tried-and-true recipes that may be new to us. There are problems even with that idea, though. This is a busy time of year for a lot of people, so good luck actually getting enough people to actually show up. Plus I don't know that many people who are as crazy about baking as I am. Or do I?
I know a whole bunch of people who love to bake. They just happen to live all over the country--even in a few different countries, for that matter. While I'd really love to have an in-person physical cookie exchange, it occurred to me that the people I really wanted to do this with are my online blogging/twittering friends. I bounced the idea off a few of them and got a very positive response. It's a good excuse to bake cookies, but no need to make a ton of them or send them anywhere. The idea was pretty simple: Bake some cookies. Write about them--why you picked that recipe, or the history of that cookie, or whatever. Take some pictures so we can see what they're supposed to look like. Include the recipe (or a link to it). Have fun!
So today you may see a number of posts out there for the Virtual Cookie Exchange. (My actual cookie post will be up later today.) You can identify them by the lovely badge pictured at the top of this post. (Many, many thanks to my friend Nancy's daughter, who created it.) Don't worry about tracking them all down; I'll have a round-up in a few days. Imagine, a whole list of wonderful cookies to bake. You know, because your list isn't already long enough.