The Annual Cookie Exchange: Some Friendly Competition and a Keeper from the Recipe Box

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Years ago when I was teaching at an elementary school in Kennewick our librarian organized a Christmas cookie exchange. The idea was greeted with enthusiasm, particularly since our staff was mostly women. This was how it worked. Each participant chose a favorite cookie recipe, then brought an assigned amount to the exchange. Each staff member then collected a mixture of new cookies to take home. There is always a bit of friendly competition when it comes to sharing baked goods and recipes among women. Will they like my cookie... will they really like it? Will people take any off the tray? Will mine be back on the staff lounge table the next morning with a sign that says, " Help yourself!". Of course, since elementary teachers are well-versed in finding the positive in each person, each would smile and take yours whether they thought the cookies looked like clumps of dirt or gems of sweet confection.

The first year we did the exchange our kindergarten teacher Joy brought these incredible cookies. It was hard to tell the exact ingredients. They were soft and buttery with hints of other flavors. I had to have that recipe. To this day I don’t know the real name for this cookie recipe. After baking them for more than twenty years I still call them Joy’s Cookies. My mom has since added the recipe to her Christmas repertoire. She refers to them as “Those Sesame Seed Cookies.”

I still have the 4x6 note card that Joy, using her perfect kindergarten teacher printing, carefully wrote out for me. At the top of the card it says “Here are those yummy cookies- Joy”. If a prize was given that year for the best recipe brought to the exchange Joy would have won hands down.

Joy’s Cookies
2 cups softened butter
1 ½ cups sugar
3 cups flour
½ cup finely sliced almonds
1 cup sesame seeds

Cream the butter and sugar. Add flour until mixed. Add sesame seeds and almonds. Divide dough into thirds. Roll and wrap in waxed paper. Chill. Cut into slices and bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.
Tips: Buy the sesame seeds in bulk or the cookies will cost you a fortune.
Splurge on the almonds already sliced. If there is a way to slice them by hand, it escapes me.
Watch the time. They burn easily depending on how thin you slice them.

I can’t say how many the recipe actually makes because JEJ usually samples the first warm cookies from the oven and somebody usually samples the dough. If some burn, dogs do love them as a treat. These are perfect any time of year. For some reason I always make them at Christmas. Enjoy!

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To see other Sunday Scribblings on the topic of competition go here.


  1. what a very different and delicious sounding recipe.. the spoils of your cookie exchange competition and we all win!!!!!

  2. Sounds scrumptious! I'm going to pass the recipe to my daughter who cooks as there's no way I could compete with her! Grin! Nice post!

  3. Right paisley... it is a winner of a recipe.
    Hi tumblewords... I hope your daughter makes it!

  4. Great post... and an interesting recipe -- I could eat that delicious photo!

  5. Anonymous9.12.07

    Great topic.... that made me hungry!! The recipe looks good too... thanks for sharing.


  6. your post made me smile.

  7. One year someone brought chocolate chip cookies to a "friendly neighborhood" cookie exchange and I thought one woman was going to take her out. I kept hearing her mumble about how much time she had to put into her cookies, and ... Well, you get the picture.

    Thanks for the post and the recipe!

  8. Clever approach to the rather 'huge' prompt: giving your reader a recipe to take home. I tried to have a cookie exchange one year in Pocatello; only 1 other neighbor came BUT with the most delicious homemade shortbread which I now make every year.
    I love your festive blog too and Abe's quote is a keeper.

  9. Thanks Rob:You'd love the recipe!
    Hi Dee, I loved visiting your blog also.
    cynthia: Thanks so much.
    tickled pink: I understand completely. I hope you try the cookies.
    Noni: Thanks for all your kind words. The homemade shortbread sounds great. That is one cookie I have never tried.


I always enjoy reading comments!