My mom used to make peanut butter cookies on occasion when I was little. Though I’m not a HUGE peanut butter person, there is something about biting into a moist cookie with the comfort of peanut butter that is quite satisfying. I think it was my sister who started making these in my house and I have simply modified her recipe, which comes from the Hershey kitchen, to make the variation pictured above. Rather than using chocolate kisses, I recommend “hugs” – it reminds me of the classic combo of milk and peanut butter. It’s a very simple recipe but a word to the wise – it’s time consuming. Don’t make these if you want a quick cookie. The rolling and the unwrapping and the placing of the hugs can be a bit tedious (but it’s worth it !)
1 bag of Hersheys’s HUGS
1 1/4 cups peanut butter (I prefer the creamy/smooth variety but chunky/crunchy works just as well. Also, no need to buy “Reese’s peanut butter” as that’s just over-sweetened goop.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar ( + 1/2 more for dusting)
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 flour (depending on the oiliness of the peanut butter…)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Beat the butter and the peanut butter together until creamy. Add the sugar(s), white and brown, slowly. Make sure to beat well after each addition – the dough should lighten in color and be quite fluffy.
Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, beating well. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat again to make sure that everything is well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
NOTE : I often add spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, to this recipe. However, I rarely measure. I would guess that about a tsp of cinnamon and a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg find their way into my mixture. If you wish to add these flavors, do so now and mix in with the flour.
Add the flour mixture to the batter, stirirng slowly as to prevent “flour clouds”. This makes cleanup a pain and everyone knows how much I love to clean…grumble. ;)
Pour some granulated sugar into a small bowl. Then, using a tablespoon, scoop out some of the dough. Roll the dough between your two palms, making the dough into a ball. Drop this into the bowl of sugar and coat. Then, place the rolled dough onto a baking sheet, making a small impression in the center with your thumb.
Cook for around 10 minutes – the cookies will puff slightly and turn a golden color when ready. However, these are “better under than over” – meaning underdone – as if they are overcooked they will be dry. Dry cookies are not happy cookies. Unless they are shortbread. Or ginger snaps.
When cooked, remove from oven. Place in the center of each cookie an unwrapped HUG, pressing down to firmly “mount” the chocolate. It’s handy to have the hugs unwrapped prior to cooking…but I am never that organized so I unwrap them while the cookies are in the oven.
Make sure to sample one when warm – the chocolate will melt but still hold its shape (oh the bizarre would of Hershey’s waxy chocolate) – so while it might get messy, it’s usually a worry-free nibble.
Happy eating !