Cookie Exchange – Meatball Cookies

I have never been to a cookie exchange/swap, so when Jen suggested I write up something for Getting Ready to Go on preparing to go to one, I was at a bit of a loss. I wasn’t even sure of the concept, honestly. But some searches online helped me sort it out. And I may even host one, last minute, exactly the way everything says you shouldn’t, and if I do, I’ll write it up for GRTG.

Cocoa, sugar in a pie plate, two large tupperwares bins. Baking supplies strewn about.

But what it did do is prompt me to consider what cookies I’d take to the exchange. And while I’m very proud of The Groom’s Cookie and I love the fall flavors of the maple cookie and I simply adore cookie cutters, one cookie immediately sprang to mind. I think because it is chocolate, a bit weird, and my friend Norm keeps asking me about them.

Meatball cookies.

They’re perfect for a cookie swap because they are delicious, cute, sturdy, last a long time, and did I mention delicious? They’re also a snap to make and, best of all, a single batch makes five dozen cookies. Thus, unlike some folks, you only have to make one batch to fulfill your cookie obligations. Maybe two if you and/or anyone (everyone) in your house is a snitcher1.

A very close-up of creamed butter and sugar stuck to the paddle attachment of a standmixer.


Note: I don’t know where this recipe originally came from, but it’s been part of the family cookie recipes for at least three generations. It’s one of the “cookie cake” recipes, which is a big part of our family continuity. You can read about more in the category Wedding Recipes to get a sense of why. You can also see one I invented for the most recent family wedding and one I adapted for the gluten-free members of our families if you’re curious about more recipes. This recipe’s ingredients are basically unmodified and the instructions are simply made clearer/more step-by-step.

1 c butter, softened (The original recipe calls for Oleo, but I’ve never used margarine.)
2 eggs

3/4 sugar

4 c flour

4 tsp cocoa

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp salt (If using kosher, which is all I have on hand, make it a heaping teaspoon.)

1/2 tsp soda

2 tsp baking powder

2/3 c milk

1 c chocolate chips

OPTIONAL (I have never used the following):

1 c raisins

1 c “chopped nuts” (If I did, I’d use pecans, I think. But I don’t think I would.)


Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream together the butter and sugar until it’s fairly light and fluffy, or you run out of patience. Beat the two eggs together, then mix them with the butter/sugar mixture until they are fully incorporated. Then do the same with the milk.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, except chocolate chips and any other mix-ins you may be using2. No need to sift, but definitely mix together with a fork or something to get the spices evenly distributed. Then toss in any mix-ins and toss to coat them.

Combine the wet and the dry, then roll out into small balls, or use a cookie scoop, and put onto a greased cookie sheet fairly close together. (Honestly, I don’t use a cookie scoop anymore, but I do use silpats instead of greasing the sheet. I like getting my hands in the dough, but I don’t like scrubbing cookie sheets.)

Bake for (probably) 17 minutes but check at 10 minutes, in case your oven is more like the ovens of my ancestors. THEY say to bake for 5 – 10 minutes, but I’ve never had a batch done in that time.

Yield: 4 – 5 dozen

Several dozen light brown chocolate chip cookies on a cooling rack.


No kidding, this will make you four to five dozen cookies, depending on the size of your dough balls. They’ll spread a bit, but not a lot, so you can cram two dozen on a half-sheet pan. What they do is rise. They get tall and oddly airy for how dense they also are.

The original recipe calls for warm rolling in powdered sugar. You could do that, I guess, but it’s gilding the lily. And then they look less like meatballs.

So, what gives with the name? I honestly have only guesses. Namely, they’re brown and kind of meatball shaped. Beyond that, maybe it’s that they’re not super chocolatey despite two kinds of chocolate in there, but they are highly spiced, kinda like some meatballs.

Basically, I have no idea. But they’re really tasty, and when made right, they stack well.

Enjoy. And may any cookie exchange you go to be fun and low-stress.

Meatball cookies on a cooling rack in the foreground. A mason jar full of lemon slices midway, and an out-of-focus iPad in the backgroud.

1 “Everyone” would be the people in my home who snitch cookies.

2 Unless you’re like everyone else in my family, then just dump all of it in the mixing bowl containing the wet ingredients. You’ll get a slightly denser cookie that way, but still quite tasty.