Christmas is riiiiight around the corner, and while this maple peanut butter recipe has nothing to do with Christmas, I’m sharing it anyways. Why? Because everyone loves peanut butter and you still have to eat some normal things in a pool of holiday potlucks, parties, drinks, and all the sweets you could ever hope to graze on in one room. I work at a food company, so you can only imagine what our dessert table looks like. I’ll revisit the peanut butter topic later.
Anyways, I’m also sharing my holiday cookie guide. You’re probably wondering what that means. If you’re anything like me, that means you have one weekend to do all of your holiday baking. I spent most of yesterday decorating sugar cookie cut outs so that leaves me with one day to bake all my cookies, try to get a yoga class in, pick up my prescription from the pharmacy, and do laundry. Challenge accepted.
First, you have to decide what cookies you are going to make. It’s easy to get carried away, but there are also a lot of “staple” holiday cookies that everyone makes. The cookies I’ve decided to make for my holiday tins are:
- Pecan snowballs
- Chocolate crinkle cookies
- Ritz thin mints
- Gingerbread biscotti
- Shortbread thumbprint cookies
- Chocolate covered pretzel rods
Ingredients and time permitting I will also make some double chocolate snowballs. Gingerbread, kisses peanut butter blossoms, and linzer cookies are also some of my holiday favorites. Because I only have one day, I’ve decided to stay away from any cuts outs because they involve additional rolling and I’m on a time crunch.
First things first, ingredients. You can typically account for about 1 cup butter for each batch type cookie you are making. Obviously, the pretzels and thin mint cookies don’t count so you don’t have to worry about those. If you are making shortbread, add in an extra cup for good measure. This is a rough estimate, so if you really want to be sure then you should check each recipe. Based on the cookies I am making, I will need the following ingredients and will add most, if not all of these to my shopping list if I think I am low or haven’t recently bought them.
- Butter (see note above on how to estimate)
- Cane sugar
- Brown sugar (you will need this if you are making anything gingerbread related)
- Molasses (you will need this if you are making anything gingerbread related)
- Powdered sugar
- Corn starch (egg substitute)
- Unsweetened cocoa
- Chocolate (dark bars and chunks, depending on what you are making)
- Vanilla/almond extract (check before if you have these because they can be expensive)
- Jam (for thumbprint cookies)
- Ritz (for thin mints)
- SPRINKLES (duh)
- Parchment paper for lining baking sheets (if you don’t have silicone pads)
So now you’ve got all your ingredients and it is the morning of the big extravaganza. What now? Here are some things to consider when you are baking a lot of cookies:
Bring butter to room temperature. Remove your butter from the fridge as soon as you wake up. You don’t want to have to deal with softening butter in the microwave and this will make your life a lot easier.
Chilling your dough. Take a quick look at the recipes you are using and note which ones require chilling. If you have shortbread, cut outs or anything in balls, it best to chill them in the fridge prior to baking. In this case, I will chill the crinkle cookie dough, thumbprint, and snowballs. Since the snowballs require only an hour of chilling, I will make that dough after the crinkle and thumbprint as those chill times are between 2-4 hours. You can also make a lot of these the day before and chill overnight so you only have to bake them the day of.
Leave chocolate coating for last. In this case, I’ll be doing the ritz thin mints and chocolate covered pretzels for last because they don’t require baking and I want fridge space to cool them. If I make them first, it is likely I won’t have space for them to cool since there will be dough in the fridge.
Counter space. It sounds silly, but remove any unnecessary accessories or clutter from your counter since you will most likely need if for either mixing, rolling, or decorating.
Icing and decorating. Icing and decorating is easiest with a group of people and can be an event in itself. If you are making cut outs or gingerbread, you can store these in a airtight container or in the freezer before you decorate them.
Last but not least, music. Blast those holiday tunes and have fun.
And if you still care at all about the peanut butter recipe after all this cookie talk, here ya go!
Maple Peanut Butter
Servings: 16 2 TBSP servings
Time: 60 minutes, includes roasting and cooling of peanuts
- 3 cups dry roasted peanuts (COOLED COMPLETELY)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (agave works as a sweetener as well)
- 3 TBSP flax meal (optional)
- If roasting your peanuts, place in the oven at 350 deg F for 15 minutes in a single layer. You should be able to smell them around 5-6 minutes in. Around the 12 minute mark, you need to watch them VERY closely because they can burn easily.
- Once the peanuts have started to brown, remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely to the touch. This should take about 30 minutes. Note that you can also just buy roasted peanuts if you would prefer.
- After peanuts have cooled (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: You can melt your blender/food processor/vitamix container otherwise), place all ingredients in your vitamix/blender/food processor on HIGH for about a minute or until it starts to make a “chugging” sound.
- If you have a smaller food processor, you will probably have to push some of the nuts down to achieve full mixing because it starts to become thick after the first few pulses. Be careful with over laboring your vitamix/mixer here – if the mixture become too thick, you need to be sure to push down the nuts so that the blades have something to work through. I once tried to make cashew butter and fried my vitamix (thank goodness for 7 year warranties) because I wasn’t paying attention.
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup will definitely be enough to make this nut butter creamy. If it’s TOO creamy for you (how is that possible? but okay) you can add 1/4 cup additions of peanuts to achieve desired consistency.
- Remove nut butter from Vitamix/blender/food processor and store in air tight container in fridge for up to 2 months. **
** NOTE: Nut butter lasts forever in the fridge. If you want to keep the butter at room temperature for easier spreading, I recommend taking out small servings to keep on the counter and leaving the bulk in the fridge. If homemade nut butters are kept at room temperature for too long they start to get this weird smell. Moral of the story people: FRIDGE.