Friday, December 19, 2014

Finally Making Time for Christmas Cookies

Christopsomos, Greek Christmas Bread
I had made a decision to do something different for gifts this year. I have been making (probably literally) thousands of cookies, so I have enough to give away as gifts to all the family, and still have enough to keep for ourselves. Instead, I decided on making another of the wonderful breads from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart. I had originally tried the Christopsomos, a Greek Christmas Bread, but changed my mind. There was absolutely nothing wrong at all with the Christopsomos. It tasted divine. I was just unsure how the family would like it, so I switched gears and went for the Panettone. 

I made 10 loaves of the Panettone, the Italian Christmas Bread, for gifts. As it was taking the entire day long for the bread to rise (2 rises, at 4 hours each!), and then baking and cooling time to factor in, well, those were some long days. As we are now at less than a week from Christmas, I did not opt to make a Panettone for us here at home; at least not at this time. I will say, it smelled most heavenly while baking! 

Panettone, Italian Christmas Bread, right from the oven
Today, finally, I started on my cookies. Not getting too far just yet, with other things to do, I did at least get one batch of cookies made, plus the dough for another kind. The ones I made today were an experiment of sorts. I am not a peanut butter fan. Not - at - all. My husband, however, is. The only peanut butter cookies I have made since my kids were little are the ones called "Miracle Cookies". That said, when I look around online, there are so many variations on Miracle Cookies now, that I am standing by the recipe I have had for at least 30 years. I like eating cookie dough. And bread dough, and cake batter, and just about any batter. I know this gives a lot of people the willies, but I have done it since early childhood, at my Mom's apron strings. At almost 65 years old, I am not planning on stopping now! 

I say that because, while I do not like peanut butter, I like the raw dough of these cookies. It may be strange, I know. I ate my fair share of peanut butter and jelly as a kid, and even in early adulthood. But, I have never, ever, in my life, taken a spoonful of peanut butter to eat. I have never liked it enough to do that. I do like the cookie dough! Go figure.

Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies, Christmas 2013
Back to the cookies. I have made these - not every year - but often enough, for my husband for Christmas. The recipe is so deceptively simple it is almost unbelievable, with only 4 ingredients. I know that others have made peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's Kiss set in the center. I remember one time seeing these at one of my sisters' houses. I have never done that, so I decided on making that little change to the Miracle Cookies this year. The basic cookie recipe is made entirely without flour, so they are gluten-free. I did not check the Hershey's Kiss bag to see if wheat is an ingredient, but without the Kisses, these cookies are totally gluten free. 

When making the peanut butter cookies without the Kisses, I scoop out and roll the dough into balls, and then use a fork to press the cookie down, making a criss-cross pattern on top (shown above). To make them with the Hershey's Kiss in the center, they are left in a ball, rolled in sugar and baked as is in the ball-shape. They only flatten slightly, so pressing the Kiss into the center makes the cookie flatten to a normal cookie shape.

Miracle Peanut Butter Kisses, 2014

Miracle Peanut Butter Kisses

makes about 24 cookies

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy as desired
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
a bowl with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, for rolling
24 - 28 Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped

Place all four ingredients into a mixer bowl, or just a mixing bowl. The ingredients can be creamed by hand, but a mixer will made super fast work of the dough. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Once the ingredients are well combined, begin rolling balls of the dough - or use a cookie scoop. Normally, I use the smaller of my two cookie scoops to make the plain cookies as I made last year. For these, I wanted enough of the cookie dough to offset the size of the Hershey's Kisses, so I used my larger scoop, measuring about 1 tablespoon. Scoop out a portion of the dough, roll it in a ball and roll in the sugar, to coat. Set the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately on removing from the oven, set one of the unwrapped Kisses into the center of each cookie, making the still-soft cookie spread, as shown in the photo. Carefully slide them off the sheet to a counter or rack to cool completely. The chocolate stays soft a long time, so allow sufficient time for the cookies to cool before storing.

My next cookies are going to be "Forgotten Cookies". I will be making those this evening. Happy Baking!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.