As a cookie maker/decorator, I get asked to participate in a lot of cookie swaps. Well, let me clarify. I USED TO get asked to participate in a lot of cookie swaps. The swaps are typically between other cookie decorators or bakers, and I usually decline. Not because I don't want cookies, because I SO DO. My thought is, though, if I'm going to make cookies for someone, it's going to be for someone who isn't already make cookies all the time. Does that make sense?
Well, this is an exception. And with good reason. The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is a cookie exchange between food bloggers. Here's the catch: the swap is all to benefit Cookies 4 Kids Cancer. Each participant donates to be a part of the swap. This year, $7,000 was raised!!!
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is put on by two of my favorite food bloggers, Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen. These girls have such big hearts...and such talent...really, take a look at their blogs if you don't read them already.
So, for my cookie swap cookies, I made Merry TEXmas cookies! ;) The three bloggers I shipped cookies to don't live in Texas, but I figured I'd make them honorary residents of the Lone Star State.
The cookies themselves are a new cut-out cookie recipe. Butter (Texas) Pecan Cut-Outs. Of course, you can use pecans grown in other states, if you must. There's nothing like a Texas pecan, though.
(Read my pecan story here.)
If you're looking for an alternative to your basic cut-out cookies, try these! They are SO yummy...and you'll have to refrain from just eating the dough straight up. To make the the cookies, you'll make a pecan meal right in your food processor. The cookies also have brown sugar in the mix which adds tons of flavor as well as keeping the cookies soft.
You'll also use Butter Extract. DO NOT PANIC! Yes, it's yellow. No, it's not real butter. You'll only use 1 teaspoon per batch of cookies and it adds a LOT of butter flavor. Trust me on this one.
Butter (Texas) Pecan Cut-Outs
Texas pecans (about 3/4 cup halves)
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup salted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon butter extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove to a plate or bowl to cool. Place the pecans in a food processor and process until a fine crumb (but not pecan butter). Measure out 1/2 cup.
Combine the 1/2 cup pecan meal, flour and baking powder, set aside.
Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom. The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.
Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shapes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Decorate with royal icing. I also used an airbrush for the holly background on the cookies.
To see more of the Food Blogger Cookie Swap cookies, check out the #fbcookieswap hashtag on Instagram. For more info on the swap, see the Food Blogger Cookie Swap website. Learn more about Cookies 4 Kids Cancer here.