Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Christmas Cookie Conundrum

Thankfully, I now belong to a supper club, thanks to an invite from my best friend, with an amazing circle of women who are phenomenal people and phenomenal cooks.

Each December is the annual cookie exchange. This will be my first one, and although when we actually meet that day we will make salads and taste one or two cookies, we all get to go home with bags and bags of cookies we swap! Each member usually makes at least two types of cookies. I already know one cookie I will definitely make are the peanut butter and jelly thumbprint cookies I make each year (pictured in the photo above from last season). I would hardly call them light, too. I make sure I use grape jelly so that they are almost as good, if not better, than an actual peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

It is the second cookie that is now a conundrum. I cannot decide on the kind of cookie (I have less than a month to decide) or bar I want to make. My Everyday Food magazine arrived the other day and I wasn't that impressed with the cookies or bars there this year for some reason. I am leaning towards a kind of peppermint chocolate bar, but I am not one hundred percent certain yet. I look forward to taking an hour or so in the next week or two and sitting down to browse recipes.

I suppose more emphasis is being placed on this one cookie or bar than usual, but these Christmas cookies will just about be the extent of Christmas in my apartment this year. I cannot and and will not put up my Christmas tree. It is the first time in my 31 years, but the pain is really not worth going through all the motions for. I decorated my tree last year with him - I even got him his own ornament and we received one that said "First Christmas" together. I never would have believed the first was the last. I am making a decision to give my heart ache a break this holiday season and keep it simple. I am sure I will go to Pottery Barn for a few accents here and there that are new and place them around the apartment (maybe even a nice cranberry centerpiece and new hurricane lantern for the table). But that tree is staying in the box, the ornaments are staying wrapped up, and the lights are to remain as tangled up as my heart feels these days.

Still, there will be Christmas cookies baking away in my oven and filling up my apartment with a different kind of holiday joy. The beauty of it all is that I get to share it with friends and family that I love.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies - (Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine)

Yield: 3 dozen (serving size: 1 cookie)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray
  • 7 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves (*I USE GRAPE JELLY!*)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.

Place sugars, peanut butter, and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until combined.

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Shape dough into 36 balls (about 2 1/2 teaspoons each). Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each dough ball, leaving an indentation. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on a wire rack.

Place preserves in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 20 seconds, stirring once. Add juice, stirring until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon preserves mixture into the center of each cookie.

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