On the fifth and sixth day of the Christmas Cookie Challenge …

I got tired of unwrapping candy and tried a new cookie.

Cookie #5

Baking with candy is great.

We never have candy in the house.

Unless it’s Halloween.

Or my birthday.

Or I had a rough day at work.

Or I need to bribe the kids.

Or we’re making popcorn (because we always add M&Ms to popcorn at my house).

OK, we have some type of candy in the house most of the time, but rarely to we have Hershey’s® Kisses because I have been known to grab “Just one” and wake up hours later surrounded by little piles of foil, reeking of chocolate and guilt.

But I had to make Peanut Butter Sealed with a Kiss as part of the cookie challenge, partly because that’s what Kristi always made when we had our Christmas baking day in St. Joseph, but also because I really wanted chocolate and baking chocolate wasn’t going to cut it.

(Side note: I let Emma try some unsweetened baking chocolate. She’s still mad at me. I probably shouldn’t have laughed that long.)

My kids continued their “We’re the best kids ever” campaign by taking on the task of unwrapping dozens of Hershey’s® Kisses – “testing” only a few the entire time.

They have a lot more restraint than I do.

PEANUT BUTTER SEALED WITH A KISSpeanut butter blossoms

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 9-ounce package of Hershey’s® Kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream with peanut butter, butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together. Combine with the peanut butter mixture.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the extra white sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes, remove from the oven, and press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Return to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe courtesy of Family Fun’s Cookies for Christmas by Deanna F. Cook

Cookie #6

Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a new recipe to the mix. I try a new cookie recipe every year. Some recipes are awesome and are now part of my cookie rotation. Others were a one-time-only cookie, but that’s OK. Trying new things is how traditions begin.

This year I decided to try a savory cookie. I chose the following recipe with two colleagues in mind. As expected, they liked it.

CORNMEAL COOKIES with ROSEMARYCornmeal Cookies

¾ cup salted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Dried rosemary (optional)

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat well. Mix in the vanilla.

Stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add them a third at a time to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge until firm, about 1 hour.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured board to ¼-inch thick. Cut out cookies (any cookie cutter works; I went with a simple flower cookies cutter) and place them an inch apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle each top with a few pieces of rosemary, lightly pressing the herb to adhere.

Bake at 350 degrees until the edges start to turn golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. (Less if you use a small cookie cutter shape. I also did miniature Christmas trees and they were ready in about 8 to 10 minutes.)

You can add a citrus twist to these cookies in several ways:

Orange: Add the grated zest of one orange into the butter while mixing. The rosemary is optional. (I chose this option and the result is crisp, light cookie; perfect with tea.)

Lemon: Add the grated zest of ½ a lemon into the butter while mixing.

Lime: Add the grated zest of ½ a lime into the butter while mixing, and skip the rosemary garnish.

Recipe courtesy of The Cookiepedia: Mixing Baking, and Reinventing the Classics by Stacy Adimando

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