Cookies Up Close

You’ve been so patient, and cookie recipe day is finally here! All the participants are posting their recipes on their blogs today, and the links will be available tomorrow…it promises to be a treasure trove of amazing cookie recipes that will be fantastic for the holidays and all year through.


The food blogging community is a large and welcoming one.  Everyone loves to share their recipes and experiences through their blogs, so it’s no surprise that hundreds of us in several countries wanted to take part in the 4th annual swap. Given that it raised funds in support of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national non-profit organization that is committed to using those funds on new therapies in the fight against pediatric cancers, I am truly happy to have been a cookie swapper.

Hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen, the swap has been a great way not only to share favorite cookie recipes but also to raise awareness as well as funding for pediatric cancer research. Did you know that pediatric cancers claim the lives of more children in the United States than any other disease? It’s heartbreaking.  I’m not sure how much was raised from the bloggers’ contributions – and we all contributed – but our four Brand Partners: OXO, Dixie Crystals, California Olive Ranch and Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle matched our funds dollar for dollar, up to $3000 each.  Many thanks to them for their awesome support, and for the goodies they sent to participants!


So, once we signed up, it was time to decide which cookies to make. No easy task! Not only do I have umpteen cookie recipes that I already love, but I’m always reading cookbooks and cooking/baking magazines (and Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter…) in search of new ones. I always have a long ongoing list of recipes I want to try (bake one, add three more…I’ll never catch up!) That’s a happy challenge to have.


I was considering the fact that the cookies needed to travel well and stay as fresh as possible; I didn’t know it when I was choosing my cookie but my three dozen went to bloggers in Washington, Illinois and Massachusetts. I didn’t want my blogger recipients to open their boxes and find crumbled stale cookies…I mean seriously, when you’re baking for other bakers, you really want to send your best!


Then one day as I was reading…well, I don’t actually remember which source, I found this yummy recipe from Midwest Living Magazine for Triple Peanut Butter Streusel Bars.  They sounded so good!  And I thought that if I added fresh dates, cinnamon, cinnamon chips and toffee pieces to the mix, they’d be even more flavorful.  Of course, I baked a test batch to make sure, and they got big thumbs ups from everyone who tried them.  So I was good to go!



This is one of those cool recipes where you make the crust for the bottom of the cookie and save some of it for the top layer. There are oats in the mix…


…and then peanuts, cinnamon chips, toffee pieces and cinnamon are added to the streusel for the top.



Between the crust and streusel layers is a mixture of brown sugar, peanut butter, egg, vanilla, and I added the fresh dates…so sticky-gooey and delicious, they’re a wonderful compliment to the peanut butter…


…you can tell they’re going to be good when you’re spreading that mixture on top of the crust, with the streusel standing at the ready…


You can also drizzle a powdered sugar vanilla glaze on these (to which I also added cinnamon), but you don’t have to. They’re delicious with or without it!


I baked the cookie bars, cut and wrapped them (such fun to pick out the packaging!), and packed them to ship, and off they went.  I was so happy that my fellow bloggers loved them!



In true cookie swap fashion, I received three dozen cookies from three different bloggers, and all of them were just scrumptious!  Make sure you stop by their blogs to get their recipes too ~ and check them out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.  Happy Holidays and heartfelt thanks to my new food blogger friends:


Colleen at Secrets from the Cookie Princess for the Salted Chocolate Truffle Cookies!


Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for the Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies!


Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch for the huge Chocolate Chip cookies!

More info about the links to all the fantastic recipes from The Great Blogger Cookie Swap is on the way, so stay tuned, keep baking and enjoy!


“Christmas cookies and happy hearts, this is how the holiday starts.” Anonymous


Peanut Butter Date Streusel Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious Peanut Butter Streusel Date Bars have an oat crust, peanut butter cinnamon date filling, and streusel topping that's packed with cinnamon chips, toffee bits and peanuts.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: approx. 36 bars
  • For Crust:
  • 1½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sweet butter, cut into pieces
  • For Streusel Topping:
  • To the 1 cup reserved crust mixture (per instructions below), add:
  • ½ cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips (made by Hersheys)
  • ½ cup Heath English Toffee Baking Bits
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • For Filling:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sweet butter, cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy - your choice)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • For Glaze:
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tsp. milk
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a 15 x 10 x 1 jelly roll pan with foil, long enough for the foil to extend over the edges of the pan; spray with baking spray and set aside.
  3. For the crust: in a large bowl, combine the oats and all other crust ingredients except the butter and mix well.
  4. Add the 1 cup butter and cut in, using a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 1 cup of the mixture to another bowl.
  5. Add the peanuts, cinnamon chips, toffee bits and cinnamon to the reserved cup of mixture; mix well and set aside.
  6. Press the remaining crumb mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack.
  8. While the crust is cooling, make the filling:
  9. In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 cup brown sugar, the peanut butter and the ¼ cup butter, stirring until mixture is melted and smooth.
  10. Cool slightly, then add the egg, vanilla, and dates.
  11. Stir in the 1¼ cups flour, the ½ tsp. baking powder and ¼ tsp. baking soda, and mix until smooth.
  12. Drop by small spoonfuls evenly over the crust in the pan and use an offset spatula to spread the filling evenly over the crust.
  13. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the filling.
  14. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center of the pan comes out clean.
  15. Cool completely on a wire rack, then lift the bars out of the pan (using the foil overhang) and cut into bars. (If you're going to glaze the bars you can leave them in the pan and glaze them before cutting. Allow the glaze to set completely before you cut the bars.)
  16. To glaze, mix the glaze ingredients together until smooth, then drizzle over the cooled bars.
Adapted from Midwest Living Magazine's Triple Peanut Butter Streusel Bars.


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