Peanut Butter Blossoms

by Jamie on December 14, 2011

Post image for Peanut Butter Blossoms

Many of you know that I teach school full time – more specifically junior high. I teach in a separate facility that works with students that require a pretty structured environment due to behavior issues.

I found myself with an extra period each Friday and had to figure out something to do with the 50 minutes that would both keep the kids busy and force them to interact with each other in a positive manner. I remember sitting at the computer when it hit me – I could have them cook and bake together.

Within this flash of brilliance, there was one problem. Our school kitchen lacked pretty much every single piece of baking/cooking equipment aside from an oven, refrigerator and freezer. Our school breakfasts and lunches get delivered from an off-site company, so the drawers revealed a sorry assortment of slotted spoons and a search of the cupboards only turned up some sheet pans.

Refusing to let this minor detail defeat me, I decided to send a few emails to some incredibly generous companies. Within days, the amazing people at Chicago Metallic, KitchenAid, Le Creuset, and OXO were arranging to outfit my little makeshift home-ec kitchen with the tools necessary to bake and cook with my students.

I’ve pretty much relinquished all control over what we cook and bake to my students. I allow them to choose the recipes, create the shopping lists and make the dish from start to finish (minus any knife work). Although I was a little bit nervous with the whole process, the students have displayed an amazing amount of teamwork and enthusiasm – honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Last week, we decided to make Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies. I thought there’s no more perfect time of year to introduce them to this classic chocolate-peanut butter cookie. The kids were all about the OXO “mini ice cream scoop” and were pretty amazed that the Hershey Kisses didn’t completely melt into a puddle.

I originally thought that I would snag of few of the cookies we made at school to photograph, but the kids were so eager to share the cookies with their peers and families, I couldn’t bring myself to take any of them for photos. Instead, I baked up a batch this weekend and overnighted them to my dad along with another dozen holiday cookies – a recipe that will make its appearance later this month.

A huge thank you to Chicago Metallic, KitchenAid, Le Creuset, and OXO for allowing my students to channel their creativity and curiosity in a positive way. Your generous donations of safe, quality kitchen equipment are sure to bring big smiles for years to come.

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Peanut Butter Blossoms

December 14th, 2011

Yield: about 80 cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time:

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar for decoration
2 (9 ounce) bags milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Mix in milk and vanilla.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to the peanut butter mixture until well blended.

4. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to12 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. Allow to cool completely; the kiss will harden as it cools.

Notes:

- This makes a lot of cookies, but it's perfect for cookie exchange prep or holiday parties.
- I have not attempted this recipe using butter instead of shortening.
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Paula December 15, 2011 at 10:28 pm

This is such a wonderful post and you are a wonderful teacher. What a wonderful idea to use that period to help the students create in such a way that enables them to develop their skills in such a fun and cohesive learning environment! Corporations have been using cooking/baking to foster team-building and it is fabulous that you, as a teacher are enabling your students to do the same. My hat goes off to you, to your students and to the generous organizations that are helping you to run this class.
The peanut butter blossoms you made are lovely and I can only imagine how proud the students were of theirs.

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avatar Lori Morgan December 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I thank you for sharing your personal story. I too am a full time teacher and teach at middle school level. The students that I dedicate my teaching too are in a functional skills program. I too have a enormous love for baking and want to share this with each and every child that I work with. To be very honest this is why I have started putting in for every “giveaway” I can find. I am in the same situation with a very make-shift kitchen. I am just lucky enough to have a sink in my classroom. Can you please share with me how I too can contact these generous organiztions and be able to start putting something more functional together for these students. I just sincerely want to thank you for sharing because I have really been trying to brainstorm ideas on how I could provide a better cooking environment. Right now everything I do have, I bring from home.
Thank you again!

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avatar Misi Inskeep December 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Specifically can you tell me what kind of shortening do you use? I usually use Crisco butter flavored but mine never turn out as tasty as others. Also they tend to dry out quickly.

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avatar Jamie December 17, 2011 at 9:18 am

Misi-
I used regular Crisco this time, but have used butter flavored Crisco in the past. I don’t find that they dry out too quickly, in fact I shipped these to my dad and he said they were perfect although a few were missing the kisses. Hope this helps.
-Jamie

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avatar Misi Inskeep December 20, 2011 at 8:01 am

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Also thanks for the inspiration you must be in and out of the classroom. Happy Baking!

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avatar YayaOrchid December 16, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I agree with each and every comment above! Wholeheartedly!

But, now, I simply MUST comment that I also LOVE those milk containers in the photo. Care to share where you found them. I’m the same person who asked you about the other vintage milk jars you used in another post some time back, But I think these are different. Lovely photos!

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avatar Sara M December 17, 2011 at 1:29 am

I think it’s great that those companies helped you and the kids out like that! Thumbs up!!!

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avatar Paula B. December 18, 2011 at 7:55 am

Love these cookies, they are a classic and rightfully so. I have tried many variations on this but will use yours this year. Echoing all the praise for your work in the classroom ( from a fellow teacher), not sure why “they” ever thought getting rid of Home Ec. or Family and Consumer Science, as it was later called, was the right move. We need to be teaching these life skills to all our students. Keep up the good work and keep us posted on what the kids are making!

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avatar Rose M. December 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I use nonpareils instead of Hershey Kisses. At holiday time they are available w/green, red & white pellets. They are much easier to stack and store. Nothing to unwrap and they taste great too!

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avatar Emma December 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm

That is so amazing and inspiring! Teachers like you, who go above and beyond, are truly the backbone of a great start in life.

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avatar ann marie December 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm

you know you can make these cookies gluten free. and it makes quite a good science lesson. what is gluten, what is protein, why does gluten add to cookie structure, what is the role of sugar in cookie structure, what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder, why do cookies come out better if the dough is refrigerated, what role do eggs play in cookie structure.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossoms

2 cups peanut butter
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder

beat all together and chill

use small cookie scoop, roll in palm

roll balls in sugar

place on parchment lined tray

bake in 340 degree oven on high rack

they are finished when just turning brown on bottom (about 12 mins)

careful not to burn. they will continue browning on bottom after removal from oven so err on the side of light brown on bottom

squish in hersheys kiss (or rollo etc) on top immediately

do not attempt to remove from pan till cool.

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avatar Jamie December 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Ann Marie-

Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Holidays and thank you for following MBA!

-Jamie

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avatar Christine (CookTheStory) December 5, 2013 at 7:49 am

I love your story. I never had basic cooking or sewing when I was in high school, and didn’t think anything about it then, but looking back I realize how important it is to know the basics of both. A big thank you to the sponsors who helped make it possible.

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avatar Jeannie December 5, 2013 at 9:13 am

I look forward to making these with my grandchildren. The ingredient list has “white sugar” listed. Confectioners or granulated? Thanks for sharing your story and the recipe. As a former teacher I certainly appreciate your efforts!

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avatar Jamie December 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

Jeannie-
White sugar = granulated. I hope this helps!
-Jamie

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avatar Deborah December 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

People do love Peanut Blossoms, anytime and everytime!

Definitely use butter. It is healthier than shortening and always taste better in cookies. In any cookie it will make the difference between okay and delicious. You can use all whole wheat pastry flour and they still get raves. When we are teaching children to cook we might as well teach them how to do it in a healthier way so we can all get some nutrition our of our sweets. AND the dark chocolate kisses make them so much better!

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avatar Sharon C December 11, 2013 at 12:02 am

Any ideas on ways to substitute for peanut butter? My son has a nut allergy but I live the ideas of putting Hershey’s kisses in the cookie.

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avatar Jamie January 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Sharon, you should be able to substitute Sunbutter for peanut butter in this recipe. It is made from sunflower seeds, and completely nut-free.
- Jamie

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avatar Tim December 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Just finished making this recipe. Sorry to say, it’s not good. Well, it is good but not special at all. I should have made one of my moms old recipes. These taste like I could have bought them from the local Kroger.

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avatar Deborah December 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

Did you use Crisco or butter? I think anytime one uses Crisco it tastes like store bought. Do your mother’s recipes use Crisco or butter? If you want a WOW cookie, you really need to use butter.

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