Peanut Butter Reindeer and Candy Canes

Baking, Cookies, Holiday Baking

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Now I know Christmas was almost a week ago but really, who grows tired of Christmas cookies? If you’re going to be a Grinch about it, nix the red m&ms and pretzels and make yourself some chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.

I got the idea for these adorable reindeer from dear old Betty Crocker. I used my old standby recipe for Hershey’s peanut butter blossom cookies for the peanut butter cookie dough. I have used it many a time to make peanut butter blossoms but I figured it would be great to make these peanut butter reindeer with too! It makes such a great moist and chewy peanut butter cookie.

These cookies are fairly simple but there is a bit of assembly required, i.e. a big ol’ pretzely mess. I learned while making these cookies that it is very important to bake the cookies with the mini chocolate chip eyes, mini red m&m nose, and pretzel antlers. If you bake the cookies first and then place all these fixings on after, they will fall off! Also, as the pretzels bake, they harden and get a nice glossy finish to them.

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I also made our annual candy cane cookies. Ok so that was kind of a lie…my Mom made them. She’s just better at them! They are a simple cookie dough to make but I cannot roll them out and weave them together like that woman can. She has been making them for like fifty years! How can I compete with that??

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These candy cane cookies are also a Betty Crocker favorite. We use the recipe from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book, but this recipe is very similar. However, we add almond extract instead of peppermint extract and don’t sprinkle them with crushed candy canes. I actually never knew that this cookie contained any  peppermint until this year! The recipe in the book has you sprinkle the cookies with candy cane pieces. But the one year my Mom did that, she didn’t like them, thus she never did it again! I’m not complaining. I’m not that big on peppermint and since these cookies really just taste like sweet almond extract, they are the only candy canes you will ever see me eating once December comes around! I also include them in my cookie boxes that I give out to my friends every year and they have become a favorite amongst them as well!

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Since I follow Betty Crocker on pinterest, I saw this article they recently posted about the Betty Crocker Cooky Book and how the recipes stand up today, fifty years later. Now you can read the article, but it wasn’t really what I was expecting. I thought they would compare other recipes, see how they had evolved since the original book was published. But they more or less just baked the cookies and described how they tasted.

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I have been baking cookies out of this book with my Mom for as long as I can remember. And after reading that article, I wondered if the book my Mom has is indeed the first edition of this book! So I interviewed her about her history with this cooky book and baking memories.

She said, “My Mom bought that book when it first came out in 1963. I was nine years old and she let me pick out which Christmas cookie I would like to learn how to make. I picked Russian tea cakes because I liked walnuts and we had walnut trees growing in our backyard. Every year she would let [my sibling and I] each pick out our favorite cookie to try and make. I wanted to make more of them. I would make the Russian tea cakes and a new one each year. It’s not Christmas without Russian tea cakes.”

Just this year, my Mom had her Cooky Book out to make Russian tea cakes and she asked me to show her the recipe for them that I had found on pinterest. I looked at my Holiday board and we compared the two recipes. I hadn’t realized until I pulled it up that I had pinned it from Betty Crocker. We compared the recipes, and they were exactly the same! It made me so happy to see that fifty years later, people are still making these cookies exactly the same way!

“After I had my first child, my mother gave me the book (in 1982), because no one loved it like I did. I had drawn stars next to the recipes I liked and the book is taped together with some pages missing. I always loved trying the Christmas cookies around Christmas time. With you kids I made more cookies than my Mom ever made with me. The boys preferred eating them rather than making them. It is still my go to book for cookies for any occasion.”

So it is in fact the same book! I should have known! But I mean even from 1982 to now, there would be some wear and tear. I feel so special knowing that this book is a first edition, like I am living with a piece of treasured cookie history, a real family heirloom.

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