Christmas cookies

I love a hosting parties, but I find the best parties are the ones where everyone brings a great story and their favorite recipe to share. A cookie Christmas party checks all those boxes, and it’s an inexpensive way to entertain.

The first cookie exchange party started more than 70 years ago. It was usually a social event for women and extremely popular with women’s clubs and church groups. Each person baked one or two dozen of their favorite cookies and exchanged one with each person in attendance. The party also is a wonderful way to collect the personal stories behind the cookies. Sharing stories also acts as an icebreaker and a way for guests to get to know each other.

  • Set a beautiful table and arrange all the cookies as the guests arrive. You can place the plates of cookies at different heights using a few books covered by a tablecloth, or by using cake pedestals.
  • If the cookies or candies have been frozen, label them “Previously Frozen.” This will prevent the recipients from freezing the items again, which may alter the flavor and texture of the cookie.
  • Arrange the furniture and the serving tables so that your guests can move easily around the room and the serving tables.
  • Provide small cups, mugs, plates and napkins so that your guests can serve themselves.
  • Eating sweets induces thirst! Have self-serve pitchers of ice and sparkling water on hand, along with coffee, cider, hot chocolate, juices or sodas.

Here are two recipes — one for a cool and refreshing Christmas Fizz, and another for a warm and flavorful Tres Leches Hot Chocolate With Coconut Milk. Both recipes go perfectly with cookies! Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

CHRISTMAS FIZZ

For the Simple Syrup:

If your cranberry and/or pomegranate juice is already sweetened, reduce the amount of sugar in the simple syrup to 1/2 cup.

1/2 cup unsweetened 100% cranberry juice

1/2 cup unsweetened 100% pomegranate juice

1 cup sugar

To Make Simple Syrup:

1. In a small pot, stir together fruit juices and sugar.

2. Set pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until sugar completely dissolves.

3. Pour syrup in a jar and cool completely. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

For each Christmas Fizz:

1 ounce simple syrup

3 to 4 ounces seltzer

Squeeze of fresh lime juice

Whole cranberries and slices of lime for garnish, optional

To make the Christmas Fizz:

1. Pour 1 ounce of cranberry-pomegranate simple syrup into a champagne flute or glass. Top with 3 to 4 ounces of seltzer. Squeeze a wedge of lime into the glass.

2. For a garnish, use a toothpick to skewer a whole cranberry and half slice of lime, if desired.

To make a pitcher of the Christmas Fizz, mix 1 cup of cranberry-pomegranate simple syrup with 3 cups of seltzer water. Squeeze in the juice of one lime. Taste and add additional simple syrup, if desired. Chill before serving.

TRES LECHES HOT CHOCOLATE WITH COCONUT MILK

If you’re expecting a crowd, double the recipe and place the hot chocolate in a slow cooker on low heat. To serve, ladle drink into mugs and top with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and toasted coconut, if desired.

3 cups almond milk

1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk

2/3 cup (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped cream

1/4 cup chocolate shavings (optional)

1/4 cup toasted, sweetened coconut flakes

1. In medium saucepan combine fat-free milk, coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Whisk in cocoa powder until well-combined.

2. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Serve in mugs topped with whipped cream, and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings and toasted coconut. Makes 5 (1 cup) servings.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

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