At the moment, we’re only going up to my in-laws’ condo about once a week, picking at cleaning things out. No, we’re not making a lot of forward progress that way, but what’s the rush? It all has to go through probate court, and with the housing market the way it is, and the construction on the exterior of the building going on, no way we’re going to be able to sell it for at least a year. *Sigh*
But going slowly has its advantages, too. Mike started gathering up their books and set aside the only cookbooks they had, for me to look at: the 1967 Joy of Cooking and the 1956 and 1974 Betty Crocker Cookbooks. Flipping through them, I kept running across newspaper clippings of lamb shanks recipes. Not sure why – I don’t think they cooked anything from scratch in over 20 years.
But, lovin’ me some old-timey cookbooks (I own several going back to 1920’s), and thinking about the 12 Weeks of Holiday (Christmas) Cookies, I then turned to the cookie (or as they wrote it, cooky) chapters, and found several that I think I will share with you over the next few weeks.
First, my version of the recipe and then my notes:
Yield: About 20 cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla extract (yes, that’s one tablespoon, not a typo)
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
5 full-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, cut into quarters
Nonpareils, or decor of your choice
Preheat oven to 350º F.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together till well-blended and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt. Beat on low speed till thoroughly incorporated, and you get a good, stiff dough.
For each cookie, scoop out 1 level tablespoon of dough. Flatten it out in the palm of your hand and place one of the peanut butter cup quarters in the center. Wrap the dough around the candy and roll it lightly between your hands to form a ball. Roll the cookie ball in the nonpareils and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, spacing the cookie balls about 1 inch apart. They will spread a little.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are set, but not browned.
The basic recipe in the cookbook did not call for cocoa powder. I added that, as I thought a chocolate cookie dough would work best with a peanut butter cup center. Alternatively, you could melt and add a one ounce square of unsweetened chocolate. But for me, why make another pan dirty? And yes, there is no egg or leavening in the recipe.
You can make them plain and use virtually anything you can think of as the center surprise. Other kinds of candy bars, drained & dried maraschino cherries, dried fruit, maybe even a whole hazelnut!
You can decorate them in so many different ways, too! There’s a recipe given for a thin icing you can dip the baked cookies into. You can even color the cookie dough and the icing with food coloring, then maybe sprinkle with colored sugars or holiday sprinkles. Or just roll the unbaked cookies in different colored sugars.
I baked these for the full 15 minutes, resulting in a crisp cookie. If you’d like a softer cookie, you might want to take them out of the oven at 12 or 13 minutes.
I loved the crispy exterior, and the peanut butter cup piece inside kind of melded with the cookie interior itself, making a soft, rich texture contrast. But what I love best about this recipe is the myriad ways you can change it up to suit your taste and the flavors of the seasons.
Go ahead – Play with your food! You’re only limited by your own imagination!
Week 8 Twelve Weeks of Christmas: