Holiday cookie exchanges don't excite me in the way they should. The thought of taking home dozens of cookies does not fill me with cheer, because I could care less about sweets, and yet I still love a good cookie exchange. My take on it is to bring something savory, but still in keeping with the spirit of the exchange. And for that, I turn to little cheese biscuits.
But first, back to cookie exchanges: At the one in my old neighborhood, we would gather in one neighbor's living room, each guest with a basket of her own cookies, packaged into festive, individual portions, so everyone could take home a basket of cookies prepared by various neighbors. We went around the room when the time came, sharing something about our offering.
Some people had elaborate, interesting stories. Their recipes were handed down through generations, or stolen from stingy friends. Some explanations were simple, "I saw it in Better Homes and Gardens and thought it sounded good." Neighborhood daughters grew old enough to come to the cookie party, new faces appeared around the cookie table and faces that had left the neighborhood re-appeared for the occasional cookie party visit. And if you missed a year? You'd be there in spirit, because the gossip about you would flow. But it was all in good fun.
But I digress. My recipe for little cheese biscuits, which I recorded in my recipe book as being from Bon Appetit, December 1992, cannot be found online. Perhaps the good folks at Bon Appetit didn't think it was special enough for Epicurious.com. I don't know why, because it's easy as pie, and delicious. Their recipe was long-winded, but I think it can be shared in a much more succinct way.
- Take two cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 3/4 stick of butter (room temperature), 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce and a dash of your favorite hot sauce and blend them in a food processor.
- In a bowl, blend the cheese mixture with 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour, and drop the ball of dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.
- Roll the dough into a log, about an inch-and-a-half in diameter. Now wrap it a refrigerate it for at least three hours or freeze it to be thawed at another time.
- When you're ready to make the biscuits, cut the log into 1/4 in slices and put them on a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with celery salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried chili flakes, or whatever you think looks pretty and tastes good.
- Bake at 350° for 12-13 minutes, or until slightly brown at the edges.
I love this recipe, because I can store the frozen logs and pull one out when I need a cute, home-made snack on the fly. Though I tend to make them around the holidays, they're perfect any time of year. Bon Appetit calls them "biscuits," but they're more like crackers or cheese straws, perfect munchies to go with Champagne, beer or anything else, really.
What do you bring to the cookie exchange? And what easy appetizers can you make on the fly? This is a great time of year to be generous with those recipes!