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Think outside the chocolate box when hosting a holiday cookie exchange

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Updated: 2/03 12:15 pm

(BPT) - The holidays provide a good excuse to bake and eat cookies. Not the traditional chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies that most of us eat during the rest of the year, but those special recipes that have everyone going back for a second taste.

Hosting a cookie exchange is a great way to expose your friends to a wider variety of cookie recipes this holiday season. But before sending out invitations and asking your friends to make their favorite cookie recipe, consider thinking outside the chocolate box for your party this year.

There are tons of ways to make your cookie exchange party unique. Start planning your party right away using a couple of these ideas.

* Make it a themed cookie exchange. Theme parties are fun at any time of year, but take it one step further with your cookie exchange. Invite your guests to follow the theme with the recipes they choose to make. For example, consider hosting a black and white cookie party, explaining to attendees that the cookies must have a black or white element. Coconut, white or dark chocolate candies, nuts and sugar for icing are just several ingredients that fit the bill, and you can find dozens of recipes featuring these items. Or make it a chocolate party, where all of the recipes have a chocolate ingredient in them. Many cookie recipes include nuts, so a nut theme would also be a great idea. In addition to the recipes featuring the theme, also decorate the party room to match. In need of a recipe? The following white chocolate crunch recipe is great for all three themed parties:

Hawaiian Host Whole Macadamia White Chocolate Crunch

Ingredients:

1 box, 7 ounces, 18 pieces Hawaiian Host Whole Macadamia White Chocolates
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Directions:

Melt chocolate in a microwave oven in 4 quart casserole at 70 percent power for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring periodically, until melted. Stir in peanut butter. Add corn cereal and marshmallows; stir. Pour into buttered 8-by-8 inch square pan or dish. When firm, cut into squares.

* Up the game on the party favors. The purpose of a cookie exchange is to leave the party with a variety of holiday cookies, but you and your guests can have a lot more fun. Ways to think outside the chocolate box include holding a wine pairing with the cookies. Red wine and chocolate go well together, and your guests can determine which pairing works best for their holiday tables. Or indulge by serving some chocolate martinis alongside the cookies. If your group is into games, make up fun names for the cookie recipes everyone brought, or make a unique recipe just for the party, and have guests guess the ingredients in the mystery cookie.

* Introduce unexpected ingredients into the cookie recipes. One of the holiday season's most popular confections is Hawaiian Host chocolate-covered macadamia nuts that tempt frequent snacking all season long. But chopping up these chocolate-covered nuts and putting them into a cookie recipe will introduce a new surprise to all your guests. Try them in the following butter cookie recipe:

Hawaiian Host Milk Chocolate AlohaMac Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

14 pieces Hawaiian Host Milk Chocolate AlohaMacs, chop into pieces
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, granulated
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix butter and sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat, then add vanilla extract. Mix flour, salt and soda, and add gradually to butter mixture. Fold in chocolate pieces. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 8 - 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until light brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Hosting a cookie exchange is a lot of fun, and when you think outside the chocolate box, you can take the fun to a whole new level. So start planning your party, find some unique cookie recipes and get started with your holiday baking. For more recipes or to order chocolate-covered macadamia nuts online visit www.hawaiianhost.com. 'Like' us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HawaiianHostInc.

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