On the ninth day of Christmas … my true love gave to me … Peanut Butter Ginger Shortbread.
This cookie started out innocently enough. I have never put peanut butter in a Christmas cookie and the thought occurred, “Why not?’ But I definitely didn’t want a chewy peanut butter cookie, even though I love them to distraction. To my way of thinking, Christmas cookies must keep for weeks, and that means they need to be nearly moisture-free after baking. Chewy cookies are almost always best on the day they are baked.
I also wanted my Christmas peanut butter cookies to be unusual and well, Christmassy in some way. That’s where the ginger comes in. It’s a divine flavor pairing with peanut butter. Then I started to think about texture and the next thing I knew, I was chopping a handful of roasted peanuts. And what’s better with peanut butter than even bananas? Right! Chocolate. So I melted a half bar of that as well.
Then I rolled and cut out the cookies, arranged them on a baking sheet, topped with chopped nuts, baked, and drizzled with melted chocolate. And they were delicate, tender, and delicious. But as I was eating them, I had another thought. Wouldn’t it be amusing to make peanut butter and jelly cookies too?
So for the next batch, I chose a different cookie cutter and sandwiched a layer of warm raspberry jelly between two cookies. And those were delightful as well.
When my darling Miss Lillian is a little bit older, I will make these for her in miniature. They’re perfect for a Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas tea party. And she’ll have to have this tea set. I’m sure she will say they are delectable. That’s fancy for yummy.
Peanut Butter Ginger Shortbread
I give two finishing options for these delectable cookies: you can either top with chopped peanuts and drizzle with melted bittersweet chocolate or sandwich with warm raspberry jam. Either way, you will get raves.
3 cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cool room temperature
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
¾ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
powdered sugar in a shaker
½ cup seedless raspberry jelly, warmed in a microwave and then whisked to smooth
1 cup chopped roasted, skinned, lightly salted peanuts
2 ounces premium-quality bittersweet (60%-72% cacao) bar chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and cornstarch. Reserve.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, ginger, and salt until smooth and creamy.
- Add the vanilla and incorporate.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on very slow speed very briefly, just until a dough forms.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and flatten each portion to a ½-inch thick disk on a sheet of plastic wrap. Seal the plastic wrap around each portion of the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (The sealed dough can be refrigerated for 2-3 days if necessary.)
- With a cloth-covered rolling pin, roll the dough out thinly (1/4-inch or less) on a floured pastry cloth. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. If you plan to make a cookie sandwich, with a small cookie cutter, cut the center out of half of the cookies.
- Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, top with chopped peanuts if you are going the peanuts and chocolate finishing route, and bake at 350° for about 8-10 minutes. Watch closely to prevent cookies from over-browning.
- Remove cookies from the oven and cool on wire racks.
- For peanut and chocolate topped cookies, combine the chopped chocolate and oil in a glass measuring cup and microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring at each interval. When the chocolate is about half melted. Remove from the oven and stir until entirely melted. Immediately pour into a small piping bag fitted with a small plain tip and drizzle the chocolate over the nut topped cookies. Let sit until the chocolate is dry to the touch.
- For jelly-sandwiched cookies, first dust the cutout cookies with powdered sugar. Then, put 1 teaspoon or a bit less of warm jelly onto the bottom of each cookie stack, and immediate top with a cutout cookie.
- Store cookies in air-tight cookie tins, layered between sheets of waxed paper, in a cool, dry location.
- Without the chocolate glaze or jelly filling, these cookies improve with age and will keep, if stored properly, for many weeks. You can also freeze them.
Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cutter.
Follow along as we bake this year’s cookie collection, and check out our past two collections:
- Season 3: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Silver Bells
- Season 2: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Starry Night
- Season 1: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Deck the Halls
Copyright 2010 Susan S. Bradley. All Rights Reserved.