I’ve got this thing with Pinterest. I know you know what I’m talking about. It’s like a black hole… You’re plugging along with your normal, productive life, you see something you want to save for later – and then BAM, two hours later you realize you just pinned like a bazillion things. Matt says Pinterest is the fantasy place, where grown-up women still believe in unicorns and princesses (See The Fall of Pinterest). That may have happened to me last week. Maybe. As soon as I saw these Melted Snowman Cookies on Pinterest it was game over. Because then I believed I could actually MAKE THEM, as if an epic #pinterestfail or #nailedit moment (yes, I just hashtagged in a post) wasn’t inevitable (especially considering I would be making it all at home, instead of using a pre-made kit)! In order to SHARE this super FUN Olaf-In-The-Summer cookies we decided to host a (healthy) cookie swap party!
Cookie Swap Parties are something I’d only ever heard about. Even in my non-Paleo days I was never invited to one, and then once we went grain-free and dairy-free it’s not like I could actually “swap” with normal people. And fair warning here, people, I am NO Martha Stewart. Not only is my stock trading game not on-point, I openly admit I’m terrible at hosting parties – although I love to do it! I actually really just enjoy hanging out with people and eating cookies, so that’s how we rolled for this event too.
Here’s how I hosted the Cookie Swap Party
- Invited a group of friends to a family-friendly paleo cookie swap. I created a Facebook event, that way people could become “friends” with one another after (e-vite or a similar service would work too if you’re not on the book of faces). I loved that before the event people chatted about what they were thinking of making and after we were all able to share links to recipes, all within the same “event” page!
- With an RSVP list of about 15, we had a dozen families show (a couple people had sick families or other things come up).
- I asked each person bring two things: 1) a container to bring home their swapped cookies, and 2) to make and bring 3 dozen cookies, thinking that would mean each person would get a few cookies of each kind.
- I picked up a box of waxed bags for anyone that may need them at the party, took the opportunity to make pinterest-fail worthy cookies with the boys (see below), emptied our eat-in-kitchen table (where I knew everyone would congregate) and made that the “cookie table”. Then I put holiday music on, and waited for guests to arrive.
- I served Chameleon cold brew with Trickling Springs grass-fed heavy cream, sparkling mineral water… and completely forgot to set-up and serve the hot cider we intended for the kids! That’s mostly because all the kids went scattering to the kids’ bedrooms and the basement and pretty much stayed there the whole time!
- The party exchange window was 3 hours long, and only one person left before the last person came (meaning, almost everyone got to see and try everyone else’s cookies).
- While we all chit-chatted about all the “crunchy granola weird stuff” paleo people do, people perused through my paleo cookbook library, tried on a ton of my Primal Life Organics, and checked out interesting products we had that they wanted to try – like Exo Bars, new SustainaPak paleo jerky (check here for discount), and Green Pastures Beauty Balm and Calm Balm. In fact, I ended up giving out samples of a bunch of stuff because people were curious and we were all nerd-ing out excited about fermented cod liver oil on the face and crickets in our food. Side note: not a single person didn’t like what they tried!
Throwing the cookie swap party was seriously SO easy! All in all it was a wonderful experience. I think we’ll make it an annual event and now that we know how it will go in a small(ish) environment maybe we can formalize something next year. But, the best part of the party was (obviously) the food! Everyone. Every. One. Made amazing recipes. I can’t wait to remake some of these recipes, and can now HIGHLY recommend them to you!
What People Brought
Jess made super soft and pillowy marshmallows (yes, we welcome non-cookie treats – especially homemade marshmallows!). She used this recipe from An Organic Wife and then dusted one batch in powder made from freeze dried strawberries and arrowroot and the other in cacao powder.
Kimberly from What In The Health made insanely incredible Homemade Mallomars from Deliciously Organic. You may be sensing a marshmallow theme at this cookie swap. That’s because it’s a food group, like lard.
Amy (who runs the local organic foodie group I’ve been talking about on the podcast and social media lately) made Elana’s Thin Mints, which are one of my favorite holiday cookies. I only got one because Cole ate way more than his share within the first 24 hours. Looks like we’ll need to make our own batch for Santa!
Nikki made these Chinese Almond Cookies from Texanerin Baking on Tasty Yummies blog, and they were spot-on on almond flavor as well as a wonderfully chewy texture in the center! Plus, they’re vegan (egg-free) too!
Anne, our long-time friend and team member, made one of our favorite recipes – Creamy Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons – into egg-free, nut-free bars by simply using a sheet pan!
What We Made: our cookies!
We made our Chewy Molasses & Ginger Cookies (using almonds instead of sunflower) and Melted Snowman Puddle Cookies. How did we do it?
1. Make marshmallows in a big sheet, use a round tool to cut the “melted snowman” shape (we used our pineapple corer). Our best recipe for Marshmallows is in Real Life Paleo, but they’re not hard to make and we posted about them here and here. All you need is an electric mixer and a candy thermometer to make a super special treat at home (WAY better than store bought)!
2. Make the sugar cookies and let them cool. I didn’t have luck with my own test batch, so I used Pamela’s Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Mix since it’s readily available where I am but if I’d had more time I would have played with trying out Elana’s, Against All Grain’s, or Predominantly Paleo’s “Sugar Cookie” recipes.
3. Created 4 bowls of icing using Organic Powdered Sugar and dashes of almond milk and Natural Food Dyes (or other liquid) until the desired consistency is achieved (about 1-2 Tablespoons to a Cup of powdered sugar). If it gets too watery, add more sugar. If it’s too stiff, add a drop or two of fluid. The key is to have a very sludgy, thick icing that doesn’t run. Otherwise, when you pipe on the decorations it’ll become a blurred mess (like the red in first picture – that icing had too much liquid and the scarves became blobs really quick).
Side note: this is the first time I’ve used Color Garden brand of natural food dye and it was SO much more pigmented than India Tree that we have been using. Plus, since it’s sold in small individual one-use packets, it was more affordable (I found mine at Whole Foods)! Of course, Kelly also has a great tutorial if you feel up to making your own! Or, since we ended up liking just the brown ones best anyway, melted chocolate would work well too!
4. Then all you need to do is put the icing in bags and decorate – then EAT! Ok, I know you want more information on how to do fancy decorations than that… but seriously, I am NO expert. I did take a Wilton cake decorating class back in the day (random fact, I know) so I do have a piping bag and tip kit. However, for these cookies I did the lazy-man approach and put each icing in different sandwich baggies, carefully cut off just the tiniest hole of the tip from the bottom of the baggie corner and piped accordingly. Occassionally clumps may get stuck. Don’t worry, children happily suck icing clumps out of baggies for you.
Most importantly, have FUN! We had a blast making special cookies, including all the steps for them. They became a work of art for the boys, and along each step they were thrilled to eat leftover marshmallow bits, lick icing out of bowls, and help with every, single step along the way. Which also made them super excited to “trade” their special cookies with friends at the party. And in return, we were lucky to receive such wonderful swaps – all of which I’d HIGHLY recommend you make (some MUCH easier than our fancy, complicated, melted-Olaf “nailed it” ones)!
Special thanks to Finian, who helped us take photos for this blog post! Don’t you think he did a GREAT JOB?!
p.s. you’d know almost all of this if you were following us on Instagram!