The weary world rejoices! Those lyrics really sum up the whole holiday season, I think. All the running around and baking and decorating and shopping and dealing with insanely crowded parking lots (apparently everyone doesn’t shop online now?) leaves us with one day to sit back and just be with the ones we love. And the cookies we love. These are those cookies. I’m going to make this short and sweet, because you don’t have time to waste on some long, rambling essay on cookies and the meaning of Christmas. And honestly, I’d rather spend a few more moments rejoicing. We all should.
All you need to know: peanut butter, and chocolate. Rolled up in sugar. There’s a reason my photocopied recipe page for Peanutty Gems has a little hand-scribbled star next to it. The shimmery edible glitter really makes them pop when tossed in with the heaps of other Christmas goodies. And they really are fun and easy to make, as long as you don’t mind discovering specks of green and red all over your kitchen for the next few days. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of peanut butter, but I always use at least 3/4 cup. It also claims that the yield is four dozen, but I usually end up with closer to three dozen gems. It just depends on how much dough you use for each ball. The recipe says roll into 1-inch spheres, which is what I try to stick with. Some versions I’ve seen produce a flatter, tennis-ball sized peanut butter cookies that require several bites just to get to the chocolate kiss. This recipe produces smaller, but thicker and more pillowy cookies, with just the right cookie-to-chocolate ratio.
Peanutty Gems – Makes Approximately 36 Cookies
Adapted from some relatively old cookbook of my mom’s or grandma’s, page 65.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup peanut butter (if you can, go with freshly ground)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Green and Red crystal sugars, for rolling
Hershey Kisses, removed from their wrappers (you’ll probably need at least one 12-ounce bag)
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. At slow speed, gradually beat in flour mixture until well combined.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place sugar in shallow bowls (the plastic containers the Christmas sugars usually come in work just fine). Roll balls in sugar, coating them completely. Place each one about two inches apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment/wax paper. Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into center of each cookie. Remove from pan and let cool completely.
Happy Holidays, readers!