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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peanut Blossoms

As we finished up our Christmas dinner, David and I got to talking about the end of the year. His feeling was that the year should be over at Christmas. Christmas, more than any other holiday is a marker of milestones. I have to agree that I do more reflecting on Christmas day than I do on New Year's Day. On New Year's Day I mostly reflect on what I drank the night before. But I disagree that the year should end with Christmas. This week  between Christmas and New Year's Day is very important for transition. What other time of year is it encouraged to eat yourself into a coma for a month and then go on a crash diet and re-organize your life? I usually start eating a little healthier during this week, but at the same time I always purchase one last carton of egg nog and slowly come to grips with the fact that there will be no more Christmas cookies for breakfast. Although there is no reason I couldn't make them year round, I rarely make peanut blossoms outside of the Christmas season. So I will have just a few more cookies (or maybe a batch) this week, maybe with a glass of egg nog (it might have to be milk, the grocery didn't have any in stock today) by the fire while I pull out all my books and plan to make 2011 the best one yet.

This recipe calls for the addition of ground peanuts, which makes them extra pea-nutty. I also put my kisses on upside down, so they stay put when you bite into them.

Peanut Blossoms
adapted from Cook's Illustrated Holiday Cookies 2010

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup salted dry roasted peanuts (I couldn't find salted, so I added an extra 1/4 teaspoon salt)
1/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 if using unsalted peanuts)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
48 Hershey kisses unwrapped (this will make some super tiny cookies, I only used 24)

Adjust oven to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor grind 2/3 cup flour with peanuts until finely ground. Transfer to bowl and add remaining flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Using an electric hand or stand mixer beat butter and sugars at high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add peanut butter and beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla to incorporate. Reduce to lowest speed and carefully add flour mixture in two batches, mixing until just combined. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, until stiff.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls and space two inches apart on baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, until dough is just beginning to crack. Remove sheet from oven and firmly place one kiss in the center of each cookie. Bake an additional 2 minutes until lightly golden. Cool 5 minutes on pan, then transfer to a wire rach to cool completely.

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