Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

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As I mentioned last week, this weekend was cookie baking weekend. This year, I made cookie tins for 16 different people, so I made 5 full batches of treats in total. That is not an insignificant amount of cookies. In fact, I was in the kitchen so long that I went through my entire Christmas playlist. That’s a good 5 hours of Christmas music. As a side note, Straight No Chaser’s new album is excellent. I’m partial to “Text Me Merry Christmas” and “Nutcracker“. You should watch both of those videos before you keep reading.

Fortunately, last weekend I got a head start with salted caramel chocolate shortbread bars, so yesterday I was really only making 4 types of cookies, including Christmas roll sugar cookies, gingerbread men, peppermint white chocolate cookies, and, today’s feature, peanut butter reindeer cookies.

For this recipe, I took the peanut butter base that I usually use for peanut butter blossoms (those cookies with the hershey kiss on top), and just pressed in some different decorations to copy the pictures that are all over Pinterest. When you make peanut butter blossoms, you want the cookies to crack a bit, but for these reindeer, that’s not actually a good thing. Lucky for you, I tested a couple different methods to figure out what worked best, so you don’t have to.

Basically, the best strategy is to slightly underbake the cookies so they’re still soft, and to move quickly when putting on the decorations. You still might end up with a couple one-eyed reindeer when an m&m decides not to stick, but it’s better than a reindeer that crumbles to pieces when you try to attach an antler.

First, cream together the shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl.

 

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Then, add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.

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Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat well.

 

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In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.

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Add it to the peanut butter mixture gradually and beat well until the dough comes together.

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Roll the dough in 1 inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  I found the best cookies were when I rolled them more into a flattened but fat disk, since that gave a little more surface area to press things later on.

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Bake the cookies at 375°F for about 6-8 minutes. You want them to still look a little soft – as soon as they look dry, you’re risking crumbly reindeer.

Remove from the oven and immediately press in the pretzel antlers and m&m faces. I first put antlers on all of them before going back to do faces since they were what I was more concerned about sticking.

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For the antlers, I used mini flips, which I could only find in little pouches on the way out of the grocery store. The eyes are brown mini m&ms, and the nose is a regular red m&m. Here’s a close up:

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Let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. And I do mean completely here. The candies and such are attaching to the cookie by melting and re-hardening, so it’s really important that you let them go through that whole process before you move them anywhere else.

If you get through all of those nitpicky steps, the results are adorable!

Enjoy!

IMG_2033 Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • sugar, for rolling
  • m&m’s and mini chocolate pretzels for decorating

Directions:

  1. Cream together shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed.
  2. Add sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
  3. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat to combine.
  4. Combine flour and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add gradually to peanut butter mixture, beating until dough comes together.
  5. Roll dough in 1 inch balls, roll the balls in the extra sugar, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 6-8 minutes, until slightly underbaked.
  6. Immediately press pretzels and m&m’s into cookies to make reindeer faces. Allow to cool slightly on baking pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Dream Cookies

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Christmas is a baker’s dream come true.  There are so many parties to make desserts for.  So many people to give cookies to.  So many excuses to use lots of butter and sugar to make everyone happy.  So it should be no surprise that I have a bit of a backlog of recipes to share with you.  Back in December, I mentioned my Cookie Project – every year I make cookie tins as gifts with at least 4 different kinds of cookie included.  One of those didn’t make it onto SMiLes before Christmas itself (I forgot to bring the recipe home with me so I posted other stuff instead), but since cookies are not actually a Christmas-specific dessert, I decided to share it now.

I adapted these cookies to make them more Christmas-y, but they are equally good with a couple other variations, such as switching out the m&m’s for white chocolate chips and the pecans for macadamia nuts.  Really, the beauty of a drop cookie is you can put in whatever extras you want to make it your own favorite cookie.  Don’t feel like you have to follow this particular recipe exactly!

First, beat together the shortening and butter in a large bowl.  You’ll notice it doesn’t look like nearly as much as the recipe calls for – that’s because I cut all my Cookie Project recipes in half since only a couple cookies per type make it into each tin.  I’m still going to give you the full recipe at the end.

 

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Next, add sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda, beating until combined.  Look at those brown sugar sand castles!

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Beat in the eggs and vanilla next.

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Finally, beat in the flour and cocoa powder.  This recipe is basically a lot of add ingredients; beat.  The dough should be pretty stiff since they are a drop cookie.

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You can now put your hand mixer down.  The last couple of ingredients should be stirred in by hand.  The oats and chocolate chips are non-negotiable in my book, but you can put in whatever else you want for the m&m’s and pecans.  As I said earlier, I definitely recommend white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.  Butterscotch chips and pecans might also be good.  I just happened to have a whole bag of christmas m&m’s on hand that I didn’t want to eat in one sitting.

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Drop the dough by the spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving a couple inches between them to give them room to spread.

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Bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes, or until edges are brown.  Allow to stand on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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You can also drop the dough by about 1/4 cup to make big bakery-style cookies.  I thought the red and green made them look kinda cool in hindsight, since it wasn’t too over the top like my sugar cookies can be.  But as long as you like chocolate and chunky cookies, you really can’t go wrong with these.

Enjoy!

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Dream Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packet brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup m&m’s (or other type of baking treat)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (or other nut)

Directions:

  1. Beat together shortening and butter in a large bowl on medium speed.
  2. Add sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda, beating until combined.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Beat in flour and cocoa powder.
  5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, m&m’s and nuts by hand.
  6. Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.  Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes or until edges brown.
  7. Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.