Times-tested cookies perfect for holiday giving.

Peanut-Butter Molasses Chews

2-2/3 cups all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2/3 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup white vegetable shortening
1/4 cup dark (not blackstrap) molasses
2 large eggs
About 1/2 cup (21/4 ounces) finely chopped unsalted peanuts, for topping

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, shortening and molasses until well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until very well blended and smooth. Beat in half of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Stir or beat in the rest of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for at least 11/2 hours or up to 12 hours, or until firmed up.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray.
Shape portions of the dough into generous 11/4-inch balls with lightly greased hands. Place the peanuts in a small bowl. Dip one half of each ball into the peanuts until some are embedded. Place the balls, peanut side up, on the baking sheets, spacing about 2-3/4 inches apart. Using your palm, press down on the balls until the tops are just flattened.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tinged with brown and just barely set when pressed in the centers. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.

Makes 40 to 45 (2-3/4- to 3-inch) cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days or freeze for up to two months.

Times testing notes: Watch the time on these! Because of the dark brown sugar and molasses it’s difficult to determine when they are “tinged brown.” One sign of doneness, besides smell, is that tops of the cookies should look dry. Also, look for unsalted peanuts in natural or whole food stores or in the natural foods aisle of your grocery store.

Source: “The All-American Cookie Book” by Nancy Baggett (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001).

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