The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 12.05.03


Friends, exchange cookies and smiles

From Mirella Allocca: 'In response to your article featured in The Chronicle on November 12, I am sending you my Top Five lists.'

Top Five 'Can't Live Without' kitchen Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta Canned tomatoes
"If you haven't already guessed it, I'm Italian," she wrote. Here's more…

Mirella's Top Five Most Used Utensils

  • Wooden spoon
  • Chef's knife
  • Ladle
  • Medium saucepan
  • Large pot
Pet Peeves
  • Empty milk container in the fridge.
  • Hand-washing the blender twice a day, every day.
  • Grating cheese. It grates on my nerves
And now, just in time for those Christmas parties -- A holiday cookie exchange…the perfect way to simplify baking and have fun doing it.

As the holiday season approaches, stress levels can rise when thinking about the holiday baking and entertaining that are part of the festivities. Cookie exchanges are a great way to simplify the holiday baking process, decrease the stress level, and accelerate the fun factor. You can get together with family, friends, or colleagues to either swap cookies or bake batches of treats together. It is a delicious way to spread some old-fashioned cheer and stock your pantry for this busy time.

Here's how a cookie exchange works:

Invite a group of friends, family, or colleagues to get together for a cookie exchange. You can have them bring their baked goodies when you get together or you can all bake together as a group.

Make the organization process as easy as possible by inviting everyone to participate via electronic invitations online (E-vites). Make sure they RSVP so you know how many treats to make.

Have each guest pre-bake a dozen cookies for each person attending to take home with them plus an extra dozen to taste. Or, if you are baking together, have them bring enough ingredients for their yummy treats. Ensure there is no duplication to guarantee the best variety. Have your guests bring large containers for their cookies.

Go to for more ideas and e-vites to host the best cookie exchange ever. The Kraft Kitchens experts provide the perfect resource for your holiday baking and more.

Here are some easy baking tips to make baking during the holidays and all year round even easier:

  • Preparing cookie sheets (unless a recipe gives other instructions, always grease baking sheets with butter or shortening or coat with non-stick spray). Some no grease options: No stick cookies. If you use parchment paper (also known as silicon paper or baking paper) to line the pans, cookies slide right off, and you don't even need to wash the pans in between.
  • Easy way to line a pan: To make clean up easier, line baking pans with aluminum foil - mould the foil over the bottom of the pan then pop the pre-formed foil into the pan.
So get out your pans, cookie cutters and aprons and organize a cookie exchange. You'll be amazed at how easy it is and your friends and family will be even more impressed with your incredible holiday treat selection. Here is a great recipe to get you started, for more recipes and information on cookie exchanges, visit

Snow-capped cookies

1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 squares Baker's white chocolate, coarsely grated

1. Combine flour and pecans and set aside.
2. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla. Gradually stir in flour mixture until well blended.
3. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.
4. Microwave semi-sweet chocolate in microwaveable bowl on medium for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir until smooth and completely melted. Grate white chocolate into a separate dish.
5. Dip each cookie halfway into melted chocolate, then into grated white chocolate to create a 'snowy' appearance. Makes about three dozen cookies.