Cookie Swap

January 25, 2010 8:43:36 AM PST
Cookie Swaps are traditionally part of the holiday scene; but you can enjoy sharing cookie recipes all year long, says Julia Usher, a St. Louis-based pastry chef and author of Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share throughout the Year. She recommends Cookie Swaps for garden parties, bridal showers, children's birthdays, summer get-togethers, and other parties.

A cookie swap has all the same traits that make a potluck so effortless to host, Chef Julia adds. Guests share in the baking and cost burden by bringing their favorite recipes. The exchange of treats leads to more variety, with less work. And, armed with goody baskets or boxes, guests are sure to spotlessly clean up. Plus, the idea of a party all about cookies is simply irresistible, no matter what the season!

In her book, the talented baker shows how are infinitely adaptable to different party themes and times of year. Among her suggestions: a kids' summer bash, with Lemonade Slices and Chocolate Chip Watermelon Wedges; a spooky Halloween fest, featuring Witches' Fingers and Friendly Ghosts; and a classic Christmas swap with Hot Buttered Rum Meltaways, Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti, and Eggnog Cheesecake Streusel Bars.

With dozens of invitation and favor ideas, over 50 delectable recipes, 100 color photos, and tips galore on hosting the best swap possible, Cookie Swap makes it easy to warm guests' hearts simply by sharing.

You can learn how to make Cookie Swap decorations including:

Dish towel invitations (also a photo from the book to use as a teaser) Recipe card files/invitations made from repurposed vintage Christmas postcards (also a photo from the book to use as a teaser) Glass ornament cookie identifiers (also a photo from the book to use as a teaser) Gift tag-shaped cookie identifiers, also made from vintage postcards Corkboard coasters, also made from vintage postcards Repurposed ornament box used for displaying or taking home cookies (instead of paper plates and plastic wrap)

"Cookie Swap strikes a timely and resonant chord by showing readers how to create one-of-a-kind events - all without breaking the bank or enlisting high-priced caterers or party designers," Chef Julia says. "Cookie Swap is affordable inspiration that puts sweetness at the center of every event."


Julia M. Usher, a celebrated pastry chef and food writer, has designed desserts for Chocolatier, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appétit, and Modern Bride, and such books as Vera Wang on Weddings and For the Love of Food. Usher is a James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards finalist and a director of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She divides her time between St. Louis, Missouri, and Stonington, Maine.

Steve Adams loves making beautiful photos of all kinds of food and beverages for companies like Nestle, Anheuser-Busch, Bacardi, Panera, and Kraft. He is an active member in IACP and the American Society of Media Photographers and has taught studio photography at the university level and the Maine Media Workshops. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


Wednesday, December 9: 7pm at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, 773-293-2665

Thursday, December 10: 7pm at Borders, 1 North LaGrange Road, LaGrange, 708-579-9660

Friday, December 11: 10am-2pm at The Chopping Block, Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 107, Chicago, 312-644-6360 Friday, December 11: 4pm-6pm, The Chopping Block, Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 107, Chicago, 312-644-6360