IT IS cookie swap time once again in the Ridgewood Village section of Chevy Chase. On Tuesday morning neighbors will gather, as they have for the past seven years, at the home of Ruth Boone to trade holiday cookies. The rules are simple: Each guest must bring two dozen homemade cookies. All the plates are placed on the dining room table.
When each guest is ready to leave she selects two dozen cookies to take home and share with the family.
Springerle from Germany, shortbread from Scotland, lourambiedes from Greece, brownies and chocolate cookies from the United States -- all tell of hidden family heirlooms and national traditions in this melting pot neighborhood.
Everyone makes an effort to come, or at least send over a plate of cookies. From 94-year-old Grace Walker, who never cooked in her life if she could help it (her daughter makes the cookies), to new neighbors with toddlers, the Boone's dining room is filled with old and young alike. Name tags are provided to make it easier for new neighbors.
Ruth Boone cannot remember exactly what prompted her to begin this popular tradition. For years at Chrismas she would prepare cookie plates for neighbors and her husband Bill's colleagues at work. One day she thinks she may have heard about a cookie swap in another neighborhood or decided it was a good way to exchange cookies with her neighbors.
Cookie gift offerings at Christmas are not a new custom. Throughout Europe hundreds of cookies are baked in each household for weeks prior to Christmas. In Sweden they are pilled in large glass containers and given to visiting guests. In Norway people offer plates filled with cookies when they are invited out. In Denmark, throughout the holiday season, the Danes enjoy cookies with a little Schnapps or Gluhwein.
Here are recipes for some of the cookies that are swapped in Chevy Chase. FLORENCE SWARD'S SPRINGERLE (4 dozen) 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar 3 or 4 drops anise oil 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Separate eggs. Place yolks in small bowl of electric mixer and beat until very light. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy.
Beat egg whites with salt in large bowl of electric mixer until frothy. Add 1 cup sugar gradually and beat until stiff.
Pour the yolk mixture into the egg white mixture and beat until bubbles start to rise. Add the anise oil and sifted dry ingredients.
When thoroughly mixed, roll out about 3/8-inch thick. Dust, with flour and press with springerle board or rolling pin. Cut around the pictures on the board or cut out with cookie cutters and place on a baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Bake in 300 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden. MAGGIE ROOT'S OATMEAL COOKIES (5 or 6 dozen) 1 cup shortening 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 2 well beaten eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 3 cups quick oatmeal 1 cup of either chopped dates, raisins, currants, coconut, nuts or a combination
Cream together the shortening, brown and white sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda and add to the above. Mix well. Add the oatmeal and fruit or nuts and blend well.
Drop by teaspoon on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. RUTH BOONE'S PEANUT BUTTER BALLS (Makes about 5 dozen) 3 cups crisp rice cereal 2 cups confectioners' sugar 1/4 pound melted margarine or butter 1 jar (18 ounces) chunky peanut butter 12 ounces milk chocolate 1 package (6 ounces) chocolate chips 1/2 bar (2 ounces) paraffin
Combine cereal and sugar in a large bowl.
Melt the margarine and add the peanut butter, mixing until smooth. Add to the cereal mixture, mixing with the hands, forming balls the size of walnuts. In a double boiler melt all the chocolate and paraffin. Keep warm. Using tongs drop the rice balls in the chocolate and place on waxed paper to set. MARGARET McFARLANE GOLDBLOOM'S SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD (8 to 12 pieces) 4 ounces or 1 cup all purpose-flour 2 ounces or 1/4 cup sugar 2 ounces or 1/4 cup rice flour or cornstarch 4 ounces or 1/2 cup unsalted butter
Put the flours and sugar on a board. Cut in the butter with your finger, kneading the dough until the butter has been absorbed in the dry ingredients.
Take the ball of dough and press down with your fingers in a buttered 8-inch cake tin or shortbread mold. The dough should be about 1/2-inch thick.
With the tines of a fork press the edges of the dough all around. With the points of the fork pierce dough to the bottom of the tin in the center of the shortbread.
Bake at 325 degrees 35 to 40 minutes until shortbread is a pale, sandy color. When done, cut the cake immediately around the edges and into 8 to 12 pieces. Do not remove from pan until cool. Store in airtight tin in a cool place. BOBBIE JELLINEK'S TOFFEE BARS (24 slices) 1/4 pound unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 eggs 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup grated coconut 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
Cream together the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Add 1 cup of the flour and press into the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes. Remove. Beat the eggs well and stir in the remaining 1 cup brown sugar. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder, salt, coconut and nuts.
Spread the mixture over the cooked base and return to oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes. Cut and remove from pan.