Get ready for holiday baking


Thanksgiving is over and I’m already thinking about what to bake for the Christmas Eve cookie platter. For the past few years, I’ve been the designated baker for the annual holiday get-together at my grandma’s house. Every year on Christmas Eve, my mom’s side of the family gathers at my grandma’s house and exchanges gifts. There are typically about 30 people, so each person draws a name and buys something for that person. It keeps it manageable. Everyone gets a gift and no one feels bad for not getting something for everyone.

Each year I’ve spent weeks testing new recipes I’m considering before deciding what will make the tray. I like to change what I make each year, with the exception of sugar cookies. Over the years, thin mints, ginger snaps, window cookies, cranberry layer cookies, coal cookies, cinnamon swirls and others have found a place next to staples such as sugar cookies and peanut butter blossoms.

I’ve had several people ask me for my recipe for peanut butter blossoms. I use the recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook because it has the best flavor and holds together better than other recipes I’ve tried. The key is not to cook them too long. Take the cookies out when they’re puffy and lightly browned so they’re flexible enough to accommodate the kisses without crumbling. Let them sit long enough for the kisses to soften and the cookies to cool. It’s worth the wait.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some of my go-to Christmas cookie recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter or shortening
54 milk chocolate kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine butter (or shortening) and peanut butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

Place the 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.

Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.

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