02 January 2012

Double Crunch Almond Kiss Cookies

Whenever you inquire as to a person's favorite cookie, peanut butter kiss cookies are almost always in the top five.  And a well deserved ranking it is!  Peanut butter and chocolate are the way to any man's heart.  I've tried a ton of variations on the classic recipe, but the recipe we made for Christmas this year was the best my husband and I have ever had.  One batch didn't cut it....we went through three!  And why, you might be thinking, is this recipe so great?  That would be because of the crunch, my fellow foodies....the glorious crunch from an almond kiss.

The crunch in this recipe comes from not one but two sources.  Double the crunch for double the yum.  Please see the cookie picture above right (sans kiss) and note the almond pieces in the cookie itself.  And hidden inside that tempting little kiss on the left is another almond.  What joy!  All the goodness of nut butter, melty chocolate with an extra added crunch of savory nut bits.  I'm telling you, these cookies will knock your socks off.

The other great thing about the cookie, in our humble opinion, is the chocolate to peanut butter ratio.  Sometimes the sold kiss can overpower a smaller cookie.  If the cookie is a large one, you end up eating two bites of peanut butter cookie and one of peanut butter chocolate.  The slight reduction in chocolate, thanks to our friend the almond, makes for a perfect two-bite cookie with chocolate in each (or, if you're the hubs, an even better one-bite cookie!  They're not too big for that.)

One of the most important things in these cookies is the shortening.  I know, I know...it's so unnatural!  But substituting butter really changes the entire look of the cookie.  Shortening ensures that you have a fluffy, tall cookie while butter gives you a flatter, thinner cookie.  That's the way my Mormor did it, and my mother after her....so I carry on the unhealthy shortening tradition when it comes to my peanut and almond butter cookies.

I love them all lined up....like cute little soldiers, all ready to march right down to your belly.

You can pick up crunchy almond butter at Trader Joe's for a really reasonable price.  It can also be found in your health food isle of your local market.  Ours even has a machine which lets us grind it fresh!  But if you're a peanut butter loyalist, by all means go with that.  Just don't leave out the double crunch....so great!

Double Crunch Almond Kiss Cookies (about 30 small cookies)
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Hershey's Kisses with Almonds
Mix shortening, peanut butter, both sugars and egg thoroughly with a blender or by hand.  Spoon flour into a measuring cup until full, leveling with the straight edge of a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and stir.  Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture and blend until well mixed.  

Important step!  Though it's hard to do, cover the dough and place in the refrigerator for at least 2-4 hours, until dough is well chilled.   It makes the cookie rolling process far easier.  You can refrigerate the dough for 3-4 days, if you like to prep in advance, and bake them off fresh as needed (yes, you NEED cookies!)

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375.  Roll the dough into little balls, slightly smaller than golf-ball sized, or about 1 1/4 inches in diameter.  Place in three rows of four on a 17x11 cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are puffed and lightly golden on top.  Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes.

While cookies are baking, unwrap your Kisses and set aside.  When your cookies have cooled for a few minutes, place one kiss in the center of each cookie.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.  The kisses will be soft and melty for a while, so eat a few hot (delicious!) and allow the rest to cool until chocolate has re-solidified before putting in the jar.

Crunchy, peanut buttery, chocolaty and melty.  In other words, perfect.

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