Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies
About a week back, I came across some really adorable looking reindeer cookies someone had posted on Pinterest. So I just went looking for more and fell in love with them. How can anyone resist those cheerful and adorable looking reindeer pins? Frankly with the world being what it is, I think we can all do with as much cheer as we can get, even if it’s just a smile that these cookies will put on a face.
With Christmas round the corner, and our daughter coming home from college I didn’t need any excuses to bake some of my own.
Though we don’t celebrate Christmas, we’ve lived in a place where Christmas cheer is pretty much all around this month. Whether it’s listening to Christmas carols on the neighbour’s radio while I cook breakfast, shops windows in town decked up in Christmas colours, the occasion Santa inviting into the stores, decorated Christmas trees in friends’ homes, Christmas stars and colourful fairy lights twinkling in houses along the street or the Christmas food hampers and trays that come over from the neighbours, we’re always right in the middle of it all.
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and I go way back to when my daughter was about 3 years old. She had just started going to play school down the road for a couple of hours a day and every Christmas before the school took a break for Christmas, they put up a show. That’s where she first met Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer while learning the song. She was so amused by the thought of a reindeer with a glowing red nose that she would dissolve into giggles so that for a long time she couldn’t get beyond the first line of that song!
So it felt like a good idea to surprise her with these cookies when she came home. Why peanut butter cookies? No particular reason really. When looking at recipes for these cookies, I came across lots of peanut buttery Reindeer Cookies. I like peanut butter, I like the idea of a peanut butter cookies and I had a large jar of peanut butter on my kitchen shelves. You could use whatever cookie recipe you like, maybe even gingerbread spiced ones, but look for recipes that are for cookies that are soft when baked but harden when cooling as these make the decorating easy.
I know finding min pretzels can be a problem in most places in India and I was lucky to find a packet at the local supermarket. I’m not sure what else you could use for reindeer antlers….., unless you were also making gingerbread cut out cookies. I saw someone has used mini teddy bear shaped cookies placed upside down to make the “antlers” on Reindeer Cookies.
I had a slight problem while making these cookies which wouldn’t have been there if I had known about it before I started out. It turned out that the mini pretzels don’t really stay put on these peanut butter cookies and tend to fall off! One way to overcome this problem would be to let the cookies cool down completely and then stick them on using a little melted chocolate. Otherwise you could break the mini pretzels into “Y” shaped bits and insert them into the top of the cookies while they’re still warm.
- Beat together the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl with a hand held mixer till soft and fluffy. Do not over beat. Add the sugars, the egg, milk and vanilla extract and beat till combined, scraping the sides occasionally.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder in another bowl and beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can and then stir in the remaining flour. Using your fingers, mix everything together but don’t over work the dough. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill for about an hour to make it easy to handle.
- Pinch off bits of the dough and shape into 1” balls. Pinch the bottom of the ball slightly to form the “chin” and then gently flatten with your hand to make a “reindeer face” shape. Place the cookies about 2” apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking tray. You can refrigerate them for 10 to 15 minutes before baking if you like.
- Bake at 190C (375F) for about 7 to 8 minutes, until they have set and are just beginning to brown. They will be soft when taken out of the oven. Take the cookies out and immediately gently press two brown candy balls for the “eyes” and a red coloured (or any colour) Gem/ Smarties/ M&M for the “nose”. If you’re using pretzel bits for the “antlers” then push them gently into the top of the cookies. Otherwise let them cool first (see below) if using whole mini pretzels.
- Let them cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer them onto a wire rack and let them cool completely. Then melt a little chocolate (about a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped chocolate) and use it to “glue two mini pretzels each on the “head” of each cookie to make the “antlers”.
- Store the cookies in a single layer in an airtight tin. These cookies are a bit delicate as the “antlers can fall off easily.