This year was the most dramatic Champagne & Cookies in Planet Byn history (read that in your best Chris Harrison voice). Not only did Weedy show up to steal the show with her Homemade Bailey’s, but I made all new recipes for 8/10 cookie selections. Unprecedented! Certain people were making noise about the missing Pretzel M&M Cookies, and campaigning for a People’s Choice Cookie for 2017 to get it back. Listen up people: your grievances have been noted. They’ll be back next year, because I admit, I missed them too.
Last year I had a lot of trouble with the ginger cookies I usually make, so I decided to try a new recipe this year. These Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies were everything I envisioned: thin but chewy and a nice crackle on top. I made the full batch and had a ton. So good with chai tea!
I normally have some type of sugar cookie in the mix, so I took inspiration from Bake Shoppe’s Confetti Cookie and used red, green and white sprinkles to make them more festive! I loved the way these cookies turned out. Again, thin but chewy, and just so pretty.
Now in the spot traditionally reserved for the Maple Pecan Square (which I still love, and in fact Bake Shoppe serves one there), I went with the Derby Cookies (a.k.a. Brown Sugar Bourbon Cookies) I made for Baked Sunday Mornings back in April. These cookies were the stealth winner of the night! They don’t look like much, but they’re nutty from the pecans, boozy from the bourbon, and crunchy because of the raw sugar on the outside, and they’re totally amazing.
4. Chocolate Crinkles + 5. Carmelitas
Kristine and I went to Cake & Loaf at the end of November, and I still had a few open spots on my C&C list. She commented on the Chocolate Crinkles there, and I had a moment like, have I been totally overlooking Crinkles this whole time? They immediately went on the baking roster. I used the Baked Boys’ recipe from Baked Occasions, and they were so incredible. They didn’t spread as much as I hoped, so I would flatten them a bit next time, but the flavour was so on point (i.e. rich and chocolatey). Note to self: make a double batch next year!
Carmelitas are one of the squares Danielle and I had at Bake Shoppe, and are basically a brown sugar oat base/crumble with a chocolate and caramel filling. I used the recipe for Dunbars from the Butter Baked Goods book, and while they were good, I feel like they were a tad underwhelming. I don’t think I would make them again.
6. Unicorn Bars
Kristine and I ate these Unicorn Bars from Cake & Loaf while we watched the Gilmore Girls revival and we were so excited for them! They were so cute and tasted so good, I just had to recreate them. I went with a funfetti white chocolate blondie base and a vanilla buttercream icing. I think I nailed the appearance, and I loved the way they looked, but I had two main problems: a) they were WAY too sweet (so much sweeter than the ones from Cake & Loaf), plus I kind of forgot I hated white chocolate and b) not Christmas-y enough! There were a ton of these leftover, so I think the crowd felt the same way. While I’m okay with serving things that are ugly but taste delicious, I’m not okay with the other way around (i.e. cute but gross).
Speaking of things that are ugly but delicious, this Chocolate Caramel Crack isn’t winning any beauty contests, but it is SO. GOOD. I kind of can’t believe I haven’t busted this out in the previous six Champagne & Cookies parties! My sister-in-law Debbie brought these to Christmas dinner approximately a decade ago, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. These get filed in the Hello Dolly category of things I love but don’t make, because I’ll eat them all. Anyway, my friend Jen texted me a couple days after the party saying she couldn’t stop thinking about it, to which I replied “that’s why it’s called CRACK!”.
This is something that both Bake Shoppe and Cake & Loaf sell, and you have to taste it to believe it. It’s basically a Rice Krispie Square, but instead of Rice Krispies, you use crushed Ruffles chips. Did I just blow your mind? YES! They are salty, sweet, and a little bit strange and it’s so much fun to watch people’s faces as they eat them. Bonus points because they could not have been easier to mix up on the morning of the party.
So I couldn’t go 100% scorch the earth with recipes, because I wanted to re-make a couple of my favourite vegan and gluten-free treats. I made these Snickerdoodles for the first time last year, and knew there would be a return appearance. They’re soft, nutty, cinnamon-y and so good, and I love the coconut oil in them. I made a double batch this year and they were all gone.
I made these at Champagne & Cookies 2013, and brought them back this year with a small twist of using almond butter instead of peanut butter. Honestly, these are so good, and if you don’t dip them in chocolate, they’re a pretty healthy Larabar type energy snack. I wish I hid more for myself!
I would give myself an A- this year, only because the Unicorn Bars annoyed me (I also attempted a Swiss Meringue Buttercream for them which failed spectacularly) and the lackluster Carmelitas. Everything else I totally loved, and thought I had a good mix of traditional Christmas cookies and some different things that I was excited for everyone to try (Ruffles Squares, Caramel Crack). I was waffling in the final days of making my list, and almost added a chocolate/mint selection, but I re-read my post from last year and stayed firm. I don’t think anyone really noticed something minty was missing, and I was ultimately okay with this.
And now, good riddance 2016! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!
Flashback to previous C&C parties: