Monday, August 25, 2008

Unbearably Cute Cookie

I have been making this cookie recipe as long as I can remember. My mother and I discovered peanut butter balls in a cookbook I was given as a preschooler, A Child's First Book of Cooking. When we first tried the recipe, I dutifully rolled the sticky dough into balls. As my skills progressed, I crisscrossed the tines of a fork to make classic peanut butter cookies. Before too long, I was tucking a Hershey's Kiss into each cookie. And by high school I was fashioning the dough into all kinds of shapes.

Teddy bears were my favorite design, so I felt inspired to revive this recipe when I learned that Christian's first-grade class was planning a teddy bear picnic. So I pulled out my dogeared 1975 cookbook and invited my children to join me in the kitchen. Always eager to bake, they had a great time shaping -- and sampling -- the dough. As our cookie baked, the wonderful aroma of peanut butter balls filled our house with warmth, blending yesterday's cherished memories of childhood with today's treasured moments of motherhood.

Peanut Butter Balls

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Mix ingredients, and roll into 1" balls. Bake on cookie sheet until browned.

I doubled the peanut butter ball recipe above to make this jumbo-size cookie. To make a teddy bear, roll dough into a ball and flatten it on a cookie sheet to make the head. Add smaller dough balls to make the ears and to add details to the face. Shape bigger balls of dough to make the body and legs. Roll tubes of dough to make the arms, and use scraps to make a bow tie. Lightly press a knife into the dough to add details, and add the finishing touches with chocolate chips and Hershey's Kisses. Bake until golden brown, and allow the cookie to cool before gently easing it onto a serving piece.

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