Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Blossoms and Other Christmas Cookie Favorites

45 Dozen Christmas Cookies

Last week, a group of coworkers gathered in the barn at Wickham Farms to bake cookies. In five hours, we baked more than 45 dozen cookies, and had a blast in the process.

I had agreed to coordinate the recipes, and when I got to the barn, I realized I had forgotten the recipes I had printed out. Not to worry -- my blog is my handy dandy online recipe box! I used my easiest cut-out cookie recipe as well as the peanut butter balls in this post. But I hadn't posted the recipe for my youngest son's favorite Christmas cookies -- Peanut Butter Blossoms. I found them on the Hershey's website, but I like to have my recipes here as well. So here's the recipe, even though I admit it's one just about everyone already has. For more unusual recipes, take a look at the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies and Sweets blog event links below.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
From Hersheys.com (with minor adaptations)

Peanut Butter Blossom (aka Kiss Cookies)
48 Hershey’s Kisses chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional granulated sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Gently press those Kiss chocolates!
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, then quickly but gently press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

About 4 dozen cookies.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: A Magical Bar for all Seasons


Awhile back, I signed up to take part in a blogging event called "Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets." It seemed like fun to share our favorite holiday recipes over the course of 12 weeks. Sometime in October, I sat down to write my first post for the series ... and I just couldn't finish it. I felt that I was like one of those stores who puts up Christmas decorations before Halloween. It was too soon for me.

So I'm just now finishing that post and participating in the Blog Hop. I hope to make 12 contributions, just not over 12 weeks. The first is The Magic Cookie Bar, or Seven Layer Bar, or Hello Dolly bar, depending on where you're from. I go for the magical title myself.

I know they're in just about every cook's arsenal, but with some imagination, you can make them creative and appropriate for any season:
- They are fairly flat when they are made as written (shown above). If you like a thicker bar, just use a smaller pan.
- I have a friend who uses food coloring to color her coconut to make her bars more festive. You could also use other flavored chips instead of the butterscotch chips.
- You can also use different kinds of nuts (I don't like leaving them out because the nuts help keep them from being cloyingly sweet).
- Another great variation is this banana cookie bar recipe, created by Anna at Cookie Madness. She used a chocolate shortbread crust and adds banana to the topping.


Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or try a different cookie crumb)
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips (or use different chips)
1 -2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup nuts -- I love whole walnuts but you can use pecans or another favorite nut

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. (If you like them thicker, try a 7 x 11 pan.) Sprinkle crumbs evenly over melted butter; pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Top evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool magic cookie bars before cutting. My favorite way to eat them is refrigerated.
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