During our live cookie-baking chat earlier today, someone chimed in asking for a great recipe for the classic Peanut Butter Blossom Cookie. Here's the one I use. It's from "A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies" by Dede Wilson (Harvard Common Press, $14.95), an extremely useful source for all things regarding classic Christmas cookies.

Is this a part of your Christmas cookie baking arsenal? If it isn't, it should be.

Here's why the book is the one I find myself turning to above all others come December: Each recipe has a photo, and isn't it helpful to have a visual target? The recipes themselves are logically written and are packed full of important details. Wilson promotes the use of premium ingredients; for example, I often see this recipe made with dreaded shortening, but she's a butter proponent, through and through, and when she bakes with peanut butter, she sticks to the natural stuff, no hydrogenated-for-long-shelf-life junk for her. The result? A cookie with a perfect texture: slightly crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

Another bonus: Wilson also tosses in all kinds of fun-to-know trivia and information. For example, did you know that these cookies, when stored in an airtight container in a single layer, will keep for up to two weeks? That's good to know during prime baking crunch time.

Now get baking. Do you have a favorite Peanut Butter Blossoms recipe?


Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From "A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies" by Dede Wilson.

1 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 c. smooth, unsalted, natural peanut butter, at room temperature

1/2 c. granulated sugar, plus more for coating

1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

36 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped


To prepare dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and reserve. In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and peanut butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add about 1/3 of flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing until just incorporated. Scrape dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Use wrap to help shape dough into a large, flat disc, then cover completely with wrap. Refrigerate until dough is firm enough to roll into balls, at least 1 hour or overnight.

To prepare cookies: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough between your palms into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar to coat completely and place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Gently flatten cookies just enough so they don't fall off. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake until just light golden brown on bottoms (peek to check), about 18 minutes. Remove from oven and press chocolate kisses into centers of cookies (cookies might crack, and that's OK) and return cookies to oven and bake for 1 minute. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.