A Giveaway for Cookie Swap!, an inteview with Author, Lauren Chattman, and a Recipe for Walnut Sandwiches with Fig Filling

Cookie Swap! is a delectable new cookbook written by Lauren Chattman. A few weeks ago, her publisher sent us a copy, and we’ve been cooking up batches of brownies and cookies ever since. Even The Meal Makeover Moms let their hair down once in a while! We loved this book so much that we arranged a phone interview with Lauren to hear what it’s like to test recipes whose primary ingredients are butter, sugar, and flour!

Read on for our cookie conversation with Lauren, news on how you can enter our giveaway for Cookie Swap!, and Lauren’s fabulous new recipe for Walnut Sandwiches with Fig Filling (with a minor Meal Makeover Mom twist). Next week, we’ll also post her recipe for Incredibly Fudgy Brownies.

Q: How much butter did you go through when you were testing recipes for Cookie Swap!
A: A ridiculous amount! At the supermarket, people would look at my shopping cart and be horrified.

Q: Do you eat lots of cookies? How do you manage the temptation?
For me, the joy of testing recipes is figuring out ways to give away what I bake. It’s also about portion control. My baking life really changed when I realized I could make cookie dough, form it into balls, and freeze them in zip-top bags. When you have the urge for something sweet, you can take one of the balls out of the bag, bake it off, and eat it … and be satisfied. You can also freeze baked cookies and brownies … just wrap them individually. A small brownie will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

Q: You have two children, ages 15 and 11. How do they handle all the goodies?
A: My children have a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ attitude about cookies. Maybe it’s because we always have cookies in the house. My children are definitely the envy of the neighborhood. Their friends often stop by after school and ask, “What do you have today?”

Q: Do your children like to bake? Do you think baking cookies with kids can help to foster good eating habits for a lifetime?
My kids like to bake, and I encourage them. Baking is often the first fun experience that children have making food for themselves. You can’t be a healthy person unless you know how to cook your own food, and baking can provide that first experience. Having your kids in the kitchen helping you cook or making things on their own will lead to other kinds of cooking. Moms who worry about healthy eating should cut themselves some slack when it’s time to bake cookies.

Q: What do you love about cookie swaps?
At cookie swaps, I get to share the goodies I baked. It’s great when somebody comes over with a recipe I’ve never seen before. There are some really good bakers in my town and within my circle of friends, and you never know what they will bring. At cookie swaps, everyone has an opportunity to also give baking tips to the less experienced bakers.

Q: What are your favorite recipes in the book?
A: The Orange-Cream Cheese Spiral Cookies and the Chocolate-Mint Sandwich Cookies.


Q: What sets your book apart from other cookie books?
A: I wanted to pack as much value into the book as possible. Making cookies is pretty easy. But over the years, I have collected a lot of tips and tricks that I take for granted … but that others may not know. So I share them in the book. The book also includes clever ideas for creating and throwing affordable cookie swap parties. I love to throw parties, and it’s a joy when you don’t have to stress about it.

Walnut Sandwiches with Fig Filling

Makes 36 Sandwiches

Recently, Janice received a gift of walnuts from the Walnut Marketing Board and a box filled with gorgeous figs from California Figs. It made perfect sense to make this recipe from Cookie Swap! since she had each of the star ingredients on hand!

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for working the dough
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (* we replaced 1 stick of the butter with 1/3 cup canola oil)
  • 1 large egg

For the filling

  • 8 ounces dried Calimyrna figs (about 12), tough stems removed, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 peel from an orange, preferably organic

1. Make the cookies. Combine walnuts and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor and process, pulsing 8 to 10 times, until the nuts are finely ground (the mixture should resemble very coarse sand). Transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk in the flours and salt.

2. Place the butter (and the canola oil if you plan to swap out 1 stick of butter for 1/3 cup canola) and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl and beat together with an electric mixer on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and beat on low until the dough comes together in a ball.

3. Divide the dough in half and on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands, press it into two 1/2-inch-thick disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. (The dough can be frozen at this point.)

4. Make the fig filling: Combine the figs, sugar, orange peel, and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the figs are soft and have absorbed most of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Place the figs in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside to cool completely.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

6. Remove one of the dough disks from the refrigerator and knead it 4 or 5 times on a lightly floured work surface to soften it. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of a scant 1/4 inch. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out as many circles are you can. Place the cookies on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Wrap the scraps in plastic and refrigerate.

7. Bake the cookies until they are set and dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Slide the entire parchment sheet with the cookies onto a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough (and any scraps), using fresh parchment paper.

8. To assemble the cookies, use a small offset spatula to spread about 1/2 teaspoon of the fig mixture on half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies. Cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS! As a special end-of-the-year gift to all of our wonderful blog readers, we are giving away three copies of Cookie Swap! To enter (U.S. only please), tell us about your favorite cookie, brownie, or bar recipe this time of year and what makes it so special.

We will enter you into the giveaway multiple times if you …

* Subscribe to our RSS feed and/or e-newsletter
* Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post
* “Like” us on Facebook
* Share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra …. and GOOD LUCK!  The giveaway ends on Wednesday, December 22nd at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winners.

107 responses to “A Giveaway for Cookie Swap!, an inteview with Author, Lauren Chattman, and a Recipe for Walnut Sandwiches with Fig Filling”

  1. Martha says:

    Chocolate chip is our favorite cookie! My daughter who is 6 bakes better than I do! Go girl! Gotta love that!

  2. Katie says:

    My favorite recipe is for sugar cookies with homemade icing. My boys love to roll the dough then ice the cookies after they’re baked.

  3. Katie says:

    My favorite this time of year is my mother-in-law’s recipe for sugar cookies. They are so yummy! I’m glad to only make them once a year because otherwise I would be larger than I am.

  4. Katie says:

    I am an email subscriber.

  5. Katie says:

    I am a Facebook Fan.

  6. kerry wilder says:

    Definitely sugar cookies – my favorite thing with my mom, and now for my daughter and I. I look forward to introducing my 28 month old son to the process…well, part of it. He’ll have no involvement until it comes time to decorate his own cookie. 🙂
    We bake the plain sugar cookies, then hit them with the egg wash and decorate away! This year I found some fun silver and gold sprinkles. We have bowls and bowls of different sprinkles, and we decorate trees and bells with small pipe icings and then top them with the sprinkles, red hots, m and m’s. But by far, my favorites are still the ones just with the egg wash and covered in plain ol’ red and green sprinkles. 🙂

  7. Nicole says:

    I make my mother’s ginger bread cookies with my kids. They like looking at all the cookie cutters and we buy new ones if we find any unique ones during the year. Our favorite is a crab, that I got in Baltimore. I make crabs in honor of our friend who live there.

  8. Cathy says:

    chocolate crinkles….the old fashioned kind. Those aremy “special” cookies that my mom still makes just for me every year. That’s the only time she ever makes them. I have a couple of variatons of the recipe…but none are the same as the original!

  9. Cathy says:

    I am also a facebook fan and receive your newsletter!:)

  10. Cathy says:

    I also just posted the link on my twitter…

  11. Rebecca Mooney says:

    It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t make “Rich Roll Cookies” from Joy of Cooking, and decorate them with Royal Frosting, candies and sprinkles. Outline first, let it set and then “flood” to fill in (got that tip from Martha Stewart!)

    Enter me twice ‘cuz I’m posting this to my FB page!

  12. Maureen says:

    Both my husband and I love eggnog and chocolate and cheesecake so I make a chocolate chip eggnog cheesecake bars. OH so good. it covers all the bases and it is very seasonal.

  13. Jenny says:

    We love cookies, so its hard to pin down a favorite. Traditional chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, and chocolate crinkles are a big hit. I love the 7 layer “magic” cookie bars, but usually only make those around Christmas time. It would be great to try some new ones!

  14. Jenny says:

    I’m a facebook fan and email subscriber too

  15. Mymy Pham says:

    I’m a facebook fan (Mymy Nguyen) and I get your e-mails!! I love baking!! My three year old likes to help put on frosting and eat all the frosting. My niece like to help me bake too 🙂

  16. Miranda says:

    I’m a subscriber

  17. Sandi says:

    My daughter Julie’s and my favorite to make is a ginger spice cookie . The dough balls are rolled in sugar and this time of year I often use colored sugar. The rest of the family love Chocolate crinkles. I use the recipe from the Tewksbury Garden club cookbook, published in the 70’s by my mother in laws garden club. They like then just barely cooked hot from the oven

  18. Miranda says:

    I love making the gingerbread cake from trader joe’s

  19. susitravl says:

    I don’t get to join my family for Christmas (j/k) unless I show up with Aloha Brownies from an old Pillsbury cookie/bars cookbook.

  20. Melanie says:

    My favorite cookie to make this time of year is the Kris Kringle recipe that has been handed down since my great-grandmother. It’s a sugar/butter cookie that tastes delicious (there’s cream of tartar in it? not sure if that’s what gives it the different taste / texture or not). It’s not Christmas without Kris Kringles!

  21. Melanie says:

    I subscribe via RSS feed

  22. Melanie says:

    I also “like” you on Facebook

  23. Elaine says:

    I love basic sugar cookies rolled in all sorts of sprinkles or colored sugars. I love it because my children love it!

  24. Melinda says:

    I love chocolate chip and making my great grandma’s tea cakes.

  25. Melinda says:

    I also subscribe.

  26. Amy S. says:

    Have to say the traditional linzer cookies 🙂 So fresh and yummy!!

  27. Amy S. says:

    I liked ya on FB!

  28. Amy S. says:

    I subscribe to your blog!

  29. Carol says:

    My favorite cookie from this time of year is a one my mom always made when I was little. It is basically a meringue with mint chocolate chips mixed in and she would color them red and green. They ‘cooked’ over night in the oven and I couldn’t wait until the AM.

  30. Carrie says:

    “liked” ya on facebook

  31. Carrie says:

    it isn’t homemade, but my favorite cookie in the world is walker’s shortbread. it is my favorite because it is so simple. satisfying, and delicious. wish i had one now.

  32. penny giles says:

    I am a fan on Facebook

  33. penny giles says:

    I also just subscribed to your enewsletter ….i entered my fav cookie recipe and why on your post on facebook…….thanks for the chance to enter

  34. Mia says:

    I LOVE pumpin cookies with a delicious glaze filling during the holidays!

  35. Mia says:

    I subscribe to your newsletter! 🙂

  36. Mia says:

    I like you on FACEBOOK! Fingers crossed, I would LOVE to win this book! Great interview, ladies!!

  37. Elizabeth says:

    I know how healthy walnuts are. that recipe sounds wonderful. Hope I win your new book 🙂

  38. Michelle says:

    My kids love the mint starlight light cookies. We take an Andes mint candy and make a butter dough and put the mint inside and cover it with more dough. When you bite into it you get a yummy bite of mint! Its soo good.

  39. Cara says:

    i have many favorite for this time of year. my hubby loves the peanut butter temptations – you make a traditional peanut butter cookie but roll the dough and bake in mini muffin tins. once they’re done, you push in a mini reese peanut butter cup into the cooked cookie. they’re cute and delish!

  40. Angela says:

    I have hosted a cookie swap for the last five years. Every year people always ask if I am going to make MY cookies. They are a CRANBERRY PISTACHIO BISCOTTI with melted chocolate drizzled over the top. The secret to this recipe is orange juice and/or orange rind.

    But I really enjoy making gingerbread cookies in the shape of turkeys for Thanksgiving. Each year we use my daughter’s hand shape as the pattern for the cookies. Then we finger-paint them using colored frosting.

    I am a facebook liker and an email subscriber:)

  41. momgateway says:

    I’m a fan of Calimyrna figs! A fig spread between walnut cookies is so irresistible!

  42. momgateway says:

    I’m a subscriber and regularly receive email updates of your blog! Oatmeal berry bars are tops for me this time of the year because they remind me of home.

  43. Danielle W. says:

    I Liked you on Facebook!

  44. Danielle W. says:

    I love to make gingerbread cookies this time of year, it just says Christmas to me! Im the only one in my family who will eat them, but I don’t care, I love to make them anyway!

  45. JJ says:

    It’s hard to choose just one! I like to make:

    1.) Date Pinwheel cookies – simple but delicious with a date walnut filling

    2.) Sand Tarts – tender cresents with nuts and rolled in powdered sugar

  46. Trish says:

    Love making my grandmother’s sugar cookies with my kids. It is our yearly tradition..the kids love to cut them out and frost and decorate them..it creates a crazy, messy kitchen but the kids have a blast! And I am a fan of the peanut butter blossoms…on my second batch already 🙂

  47. arbk says:

    I love butterballs at Christmastime–it makes me think of the four generations of Burkes who now make them for gifts 🙂

  48. Heather says:

    My favorite cookie this time of year is a German recipe called “Nut Roll”. Growing up we had a lovely German neighbor that taught my mother how to make them and now I make them! They are time consuming but beautiful and delicious. I think of Miss Sophie every time I make them!

  49. kerry says:

    Gobs of Whoopsie Pies – my Grandma always made them for my dad at Christmas and whenever I see a whoopie pie, I think of her!

  50. tamar says:

    I love baking imitation reese’s peanut butter bars–no mixer, my kids love to help, they freeze well, few ingredients

  51. Stephanie says:

    I am always collecting cookie recipes and love alot of different cookies. One of my favorites at this time of year is chewy ginger cookies. My guilty indulgence is peanut butter blossoms!

  52. tamar says:

    I subscribe!

  53. tamar says:

    I love to bake reese’s peanut butter cup cookies–not too healthy, but easy, the kids love to help, look festive, freeze well

  54. Norma Wyse says:

    Our family likes whole wheat snickerdoodle cookies.

  55. Lori Myers says:

    My favorites to make are either sugar cookies or a sandwich type cookie w/ Sunbutter in the middle of 2 Ritz type crackers & dipped in chocolate. They are my favorites because I can include my son (5 y.o.) with food allergies. It’s a great way to have fun together!

  56. Joanna says:

    I love making Bejewled Mascarpone cookies with Raspberry filling for the holidays. They are so festive and a big favorite in our family!

  57. Joanna says:

    I subscribe to the e-newsletter!

  58. Gloria says:

    I love the cookie “Christmas BonBons” that was in Family Fun magazine a while back. I love it, because it introduced me to almond paste which I love the taste of and it has maraschino cherries in the center. So pretty and tasty.

  59. Kristine says:

    This is the best time of year for cookie swaps! I love getting recipes for new cookies too as well as eating them !!!!

  60. Kristine says:

    At Christmas time I always make Pizzelli from a recipe from my grandmother and I use her very old press too! It’s a great time to remember all the memories from cooking together and recipes passed down.

  61. Marla says:

    I love making meringues! They’re a seasonal item (too humid to make them in the summer!) so people seem to wait for them! I also love making spritz cookies for cookie swaps.

  62. Kristine says:

    My favorite Christmas cookies are sesame cookies, pizzelli, gingerbread, wedding cookies and decorated sugar cookies! They make great gifts too!

  63. Martha says:

    My favorite cookie to make and eat is a lace almond cookie. It’s sweet, yet light. I can’t find the real name of it, but I get requests for the recipe every time I make it. Delicious!!

  64. Brooke says:

    I love to make Chocolate Chubbies – 3 kinds of chocolate and nuts. I love to make them b/c, well, they are so GOOD 🙂

  65. Brooke says:

    Just posted your giveaway on twitter! thanks

  66. Brooke says:

    Just shared your link on my FB page!

  67. Danielle Krueger says:

    We made molasse cut out cookies for our cookie walk -they kids enjoy them. Yum….

  68. Jamie says:

    I have so many favorite cookies. But I love the classics…chocolate chip, sugar, peanut butter, macadamia nut. I also make a Lime Meltaway cookie by Martha Stewart that is one I make alot.

  69. Jamie says:

    I subscribe to your newsletter.

  70. Jamie says:

    I am a Facebook Fan.

  71. Beth says:

    My favorite cookie for the holidays is probably a molasses cookie, although it’s so hard to pick just one!

  72. Colleen says:

    Saltine Toffee Cookies from allrecipes.com are ridiculously easy but so good!!!! The base layer are saltine crackers, then on top you add a melted butter/brown sugar mix, then chocolate chips and finally some finely chopped pecans. They are a family favorite!

  73. Colleen says:

    I am also a Facebook fan.

  74. Rachel R. says:

    My favorites – at any time of year – are chocolate chip cookies. But we make sugar cookies or honey cookies to cut out and decorate at Christmastime, and we don’t bother with those most of the rest of the year.

  75. Kim C. says:

    Our favorite is the peanut butter blossoms. Since my son was diagnosed with celiac disease it has been difficult finding baked goods everyone can eat- and like! With 3 ingredients, sugar, peanut butter and egg, they are super easy. During the holidays we add a chocolate kiss on top!!! Who does love that!

  76. LBC says:

    I don’t know how to choose!

    My mother loves her sugar cookes (the kind you bake and cut to decorate with colored icing and sprinkles), but I think general consensus is that the real prize is Moravian molasses cookies. They’re a lot like gingersnaps but with a smoother texture and stronger molasses flavor, and rolled super-thin. If they’re done right, they will crack and sort of melt on your tongue. It’s very, very, hard (both in terms of skill and in terms of sheer physical stamina) to roll them out thin enough, though, so they are definitely a special-occasion treat.

    (Yes, you can buy them, and they’re good, but the recipe is an old family one and it would be an awful shame not to keep it in use!)

  77. Chrissie says:

    I love brownies with white peppermint frosting and crushed candy canes! Yum!

  78. April Vereb says:

    My favorite is just a simple sugar cookie recipe so that my kids can help make them and it’s nothing complicated! They love it! 🙂

  79. Monica E says:

    I love homemade chocolate chip cookies.

  80. Monica E says:

    I subscribe to your e-newsletter. Thanks for the blog and podcast!

  81. Stacey says:

    Cookies are an all year round food in our house! My girls (ages 2 and 4) love to bake! This holiday season I decided not to go the traditional sugar cookie route so I found, modified, and have tested a chocolate sugar cookie recipe. The kids love to roll and cut and we don’t have to put all the icky frosting and decorations on them. My husband mentioned that they would be even better dipped in chocolate…. we may have to try that next!

  82. Allison W. says:

    My mom always made these peanut butter and chocolate candy bars. A sinfully, heavenly mixture of crunchy peanut butter, melted milk chocolate morsals, melted butterscotch morsels, corn flakes and corn syrup to bind it all together. Simple, but AMAZING. It isn’t Christmas with them!

  83. Jen says:

    I am a Facebook fan and newsletter subscriber.
    Our favorite holiday cookie is peanut butter star cookies! We love them but don’t always make them any other time of the year.
    We also like sour cream sugar cookies. The kids love to decorate with frosting and sprinkles.

  84. Jill says:

    I liked you on facebook!

  85. Jill says:

    I shared you on facebook!

  86. Jill says:

    I love the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe…soo many yummy times to have those! S many memories!

  87. Ilana says:

    I like to make gingerbread and sugar cookies this time of year because my youngest daughter loves to use cookie cutters and to decorate the baked cookies. I also like to make oreo truffles (crushed oreos mixed with cream cheese and covered in melted white chocolate melties) because they’re really easy to make and are very popular.

  88. Courtney says:

    My boys and I make spice cookies every Christmas, nothing says the holidays like the smells of cinnamin, cloves, ginger & nutmeg!!

  89. Fun giveaway and that recipe looks fabulous. My favorite cookie is probably anything with peanut butter and chocolate!

  90. Teri says:

    Love baking cookies for the holiday. The hit this year has been a soft ginger cookie with raisins. I am a fan on facebook as well.

  91. victoria kantor says:

    I am a Facebook fan!

  92. Lisa says:

    My favorite cookies are sugar cookies which my kids can decorate and give away! 🙂 Also gingerbread people… just something about baking with the kids and decorating cookies to give away puts me in the holiday spirit! 🙂

  93. Lisa says:

    I am an email suscriber… 🙂

  94. Lisa says:

    I am a facebook fan!! 🙂

  95. Lisa says:

    This year I discovered some limited edition dark chocolate and mint chips from Nestle. Using a recipe on their bag made for some delicious chocolate cookies with a rich chocolate and mint flavor. Otherwise I really enjoy some ginger molasses cookies my friend first gave me at a cookie exchange. They are like ginger cookies – just more mild.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  96. Lisa says:

    I am an email subscriber.

  97. Lisa says:

    I am a fan on facebook.

  98. Elaine says:

    I love cut out sugar cookies and decorating them with my kids.

  99. Elaine says:

    And I’m a facebook fan!

  100. Elaine says:

    And I subscribe to RSS feed!

  101. Valerie says:

    Almond cookies dipped halfway into melted chocolate. My husband’s favorite!

  102. Rose S says:

    I am a fan on Facebook! 🙂

  103. Lisa Titus says:

    I love making a Neopolitan cookie for parties or swaps. It’s a three layer cookie. The dough isn’t hard to make at all and can sit in the fridge for up to a week. When I’m ready to make them, it’s just slice and bake!.

  104. Lisa T says:

    I’m a Facebook Fan!!

  105. Lisa T says:

    And of course I get the newsletter!! 😉

  106. Hi Everyone:
    Thanks for your wonderful comments and thanks for entering our giveaway. The giveaway is now officially closed. We’ll announce our three lucky winners on our Facebook page as soon as we track them all down. Happy holidays everyone 🙂

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