Peanut Blossoms

The air is thick with memories during the holiday season. Especially when the bright lights of the big city have seduced you away from your cold and snowy roots. My mind wanders to my own family traditions as I create and shape what I will take with me as I start my own family (right now consisting of one husband and two cats, no more.)

Every single year, my mother and I would make Christmas cookies together. Even as my brothers and I grew up, I would still insist on keeping this tradition alive while trying desperately to pin my family members down to decorate a few cookies. The younger of my two brothers would always create something that could be mounted on the wall of the MoMa and it used to drive me nuts… now, it just awakes fond memories and longing.

Two years ago, we made cookies with the first of the next generation of McCaffreys. My niece was just old enough to sit up and Grandma Tae decided it was also time for her to taste frosting for the first time. My sister-in-law was less than thrilled. Baby’s first sugar high. That was the same weekend that my now husband got down on one knee in the middle of a snowy wonderland and asked for my hand. My father was the only one who knew it was happening and, unbeknownst to the rest of us, had secretly smuggled a bottle of Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon to celebrate the occasion. It was, in all honesty, the best Christmas ever.

Christmas 2007

Engagement 2007

Memories are made special with food. Traditions, memories, laughter, love: it’s all surrounded by plates of cookies, fancy dinners, homemade salty treats and endless wine.

My mother has successfully passed the cookie-making tradition down to me. Even when life is hectic, I will always find the time to bake something delicious. So, even if sugar cookies are too big an endeavor this year, try these: Peanut Blossoms, another Minnesota holiday tradition…only my mother replaced the Hershey Kiss with Brach’s Chocolate Stars (which of course I couldn’t find!)

Peanut Blossom Cookies:

Inspired by my mother, recipe from JoyofBaking

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup (185 grams) peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

1/3 cup (70 grams) light brown sugar

1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Coating:

1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar

48 milk chocolate Kisses, unwrapped

Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter. Add the peanut butter and sugars and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 – 3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Beat in the milk. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Cover and chill the batter for about an hour, or until firm enough to roll into balls.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven.

Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.54) round balls. Place the granulated white sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each ball in the sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.

Bake the cookies for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. Immediately upon removing the cookies from the oven, place a chocolate Kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down until the cookie just starts to crack. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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