Friday, December 9, 2011

Advent Day 6: Host A Cookie Swap (Homemade Peanut Butter Cup Recipe)

Let me just say as I wipe my brow and take a deep breath, "Fshew."  My crazy schedule leading up to December 6th's Cookie Party is done...with the grand finale being the Cookie Party.  What a treat!  It was lovely.

I feel alive.  I feel like I can breathe.
I feel excited and ready for a joy-filled December.

Crazy, stressed out, overwhelmed Holly just walked out the door.  
Smiley, happy, goofy, ready for fun Holly just reappeared.


Hallelujah for the dearest of family and friends for making Cookie Swap 2011 so much fun.   From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the time and effort you put into making this year's cookies.  I know we all have some crazy stories to tell in regard to our baking adventures - 84 cookies is a lot to make!  But we did it gals, we did it.  And it was amazing!  Hope you all enjoy your cookie loot!
Here's a little peek into the 2nd Annual Cookie Swap at my house, along with a recipe for Homemade Peanut Butter Cups.  Please excuse some of the pictures...imperfect lighting and focus and such.  I'm over it.  :)
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GUESTS WERE ASKED TO BRING
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1.  1/2 dozen cookies/bars/treats for each guest attending (pre-packaged...ziplocs, tupperware, cellophane bags, etc...totally up to them).  I sent an Evite to confirm the number of guests ahead of time, also asking that they responded with the type of cookie they would bring (to avoid multiples of the same cookie).

2.  1 written or printed recipe for each guest in attendance

3.  1 basket/box/bag to carry home their cookie loot

*  I realize there are a million and one ways to do a Cookie Swap/Exchange.  This is just a peek into how I do mine.  2nd year in a row, and it seems to work well!  Who knows...maybe next year will be a little different!


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THE GUESTS
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I had the privilege to swap cookies with some pretty fabulous women!  I'm amazed at their generosity and creativity.  So sorry to my high school dearest, Nikki, who had to sneak out before I remembered I owned a camera, as well as my sweet friend from church, Pam (and your daughter, and her friend, and the sweetest little puppy that you ever did see) for not having your sweet faces here!  And to  Stella, my sweet Stella, although you were out with your fam, we missed you and were excited to see your cookies wrapped beautifully awaiting the swap.  To all of you, I give you my sincerest thanks...for the fun, the laughter, the stories, the recipes, the yummy treats, and really...just the best darn time.  Thank you for carving a moment out from your busy lives and precious families to join me.  It was my absolute pleasure!

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THE COOKIE SWAPPING TABLES
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Guests were welcomed in and guided toward designated spots for each individual's set of cookies.  I had various sized platters and baskets to hold all the goods.  Thank goodness my sister and Mama came early and helped welcome folks.  I couldn't have done it without them.  Most folks brought the cookies in their "take home" basket, and then transferred them to my dishes so as to have room in their basket to swap and take home everyone else's cookies.


Here is a shot of the cookie table after folks arrived...with a few ladies already having swapped.  (I tell ya.  I literally forgot that I owned a camera until nearly the end of the night.  Lame sauce.)  I gotta say...the cookie tables were definitely a feast for the eyes and tummy.

PS - Do you love my partially painted wall behind the clock and secretary desk?  I know...classy.
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BEVERAGES AND MUNCHIES
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I served a variety of warm drinks, including hot chocolate, various teas, and cider.   If I liked alcohol and knew anything about it, it would be fun to offer wine and other fun girly drinks.  But I don't.  So instead, we enjoyed Pomegranate Fizzies...1 part POM juice and 1 part Ginger Ale.  So refreshing.  It helps to simplify things to offer one main drink...I think anyhoo.  And the gals seemed to enjoy it.  To munch, we gobbled up some chocolate of course...






...and lots of Trader Joe's finger foods.  Yum!

I felt like such a rebel...as I hadn't tasted the flatbreads and mushrooms before buying enough to serve 17 cookie swapping guests.  Chancy; totally chancy people.  Luckily, they turned out amazingly delicious.  Sorry I didn't catch the name of all these yummies before recycling the boxes, but at least you get the picture.  My Mama made the pumpkin dip...finger licking good...like pumpkin pie pudding.  Delish.

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THE LOOT AND A RECIPE FOR

HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS
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I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into each of these delectable treats.  What thoughtful creativity and attention to detail went into these cookies.   I'm sorry I don't have my act together enough to take pictures of all the cookies after opening up these sweet little bundles.  We've made quite a dent already.  If I have a chance in the next few days...I'll see what I can do.  I have a feeling a couple cookie monsters in this house might make it tough.  Seems like cookies disappear before my very eyes these days.  


Almond Strawberry Linzor Trees (Zimsterne)
Chocolate Chip
Gingerbread Snowflakes (inside the boxes)
Glazed Lemon Cookies
Hazelnut Meringues
Honey Almond Madeleines
Pecan Meltaways
Powdered Sugar Cookies
Raspberry Nut Pinwheels
Recipe for Disaster - Snazzed Up Sugar Cookies (I love you dear friend!)
Snickerdoodles
Starbucks Chewy Molasses Cookies
The Ultimate Chocolate Chip

And my contribution...

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

1 cup+ peanut butter...I used a little more than 1 cup
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 tsp vanilla
Powdered Sugar
Chocolate - I used milk chocolate chips.
Mini cupcake liners
Mini muffin tins

For the peanut butter centers, mix all of the ingredients together except for the chocolate. Then, add enough powdered sugar for desired consistency.  I like to taste after this step, and add a bit more peanut butter if needed (I think it really depends on the brand of peanut butter.)  My preference is a very creamy consistency.  But I think if you aim for a consistency solid enough to form a ball, but not too crumbly and dry...you are good to go. Roll the mixture into balls and flatten a bit  into a size that will fit nicely into your baking cups.  The first time I made these, I made the mistake of making the balls too small, and so the ratio of peanut butter mixture to chocolate was not balanced.  Make sure you have enough peanut butter mixture.  I found this to be vital.
Melt your chocolate on a very low heat. Stir often. You can also melt it in batches in the microwave...30 seconds at a time...stirring after each interval...until shiny and melted.  Spoon some chocolate into the bottom of each baking cup (make sure to leave enough room to top them off). Then press peanut butter center into each cup (there should be room around the edges for chocolate). Cover top and sides of the peanut butter center with chocolate. Let cool. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.

Yields:  This recipe varies in the amount of peanut butter cups it yields.  I got somewhere between 24-50 for this recipe.  It really just depends on sizing/filling of each cup.

The recipe for peanut butter cups was found at s.e.i. LIFESTYLE.  Thank you Maria.  These treats are decadent and delicious.  Go for it folks.  So easy.  What I loved about this recipe is the wiggle room.  Measurements did not have to be exact for them to turn out beautifully.
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THANKS FOR COMING
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As folks left, I gave them each a Christmas card with a set of 6 free gift tags (found HERE...thanks Andrea!) and baker's twine.  Attempting to be intentionally frugal, I thought these tags were delightful and a great way to say thank you!  I just punched them out using my rectangular puncher...and voila!  Go to this artist's blog to be inspired and find the tags...they are darling!


ALL CREDIT FOR PRINTABLE GIFT TAGS GOES TO LIFE BY ANDREA VICTORIA


We had a great time.  If you have ever thought about doing a Cookie Swap, I encourage you to go for it.  It is a bit of work to organize and prep, but whether you host or simply attend, the fruit of the labor of fabulous women that join you is SO WORTH IT!!!


What a party!  So thankful!  Goodnight friends!

Hope you are gearing up for a Merry Christmas with dear loved ones and
a heart focused on the most precious gift we could receive...Jesus Christ.

Many blessings,


(For those that haven't had a chance to see, last year's 1st Annual 
Cookie Swap was just as much fun...check it out HERE.)

1 comment:

  1. Holly, this looks like such a fun idea! I wish I had more friends and family in the are so I could host my own! PS. Your hair looks great btw!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for commenting here at Hallelujahs. It means so much to me. I read each and every one and am encouraged and inspired by you! I am shouting a big, "Hallelujah!" for your kindness!

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