Munching our way through four categories of cookies, we judges at the South Florida Fairgrounds Holiday Cookie Contest were having a tough time deciding on the ultimate winner. There could be only one – yet several were in contention for Best Cookie at the Yesteryear Village holiday event. Mary Beth Mudrick of Mary Beth’s Baked Goods in West Palm Beach and Christina Waters of Christy’s Cheesecakes and Bakery in Wellington were the other judges.
After tasting and retasting several cookies, at last, it came back to the first we tasted – the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies baked by Tia Hunt. Judges agreed these were a peanut butter lover’s dream come true. “A peanut butter cookie on steroids” is how I’d describe them – the best of a creamy, peanuty filling, and terrific cookies that easily could stand on their own. The baking technique was superb – the texture was just right and the balance of flavors perfect.
Another favorite, R.D.F. – (Raisin, Date, Fig-filled) Cookies won the “Yesteryear” theme – cookies from long ago. We were leery of tasting these, expecting a cookie that was raw in the center, till we saw their name. These are staying in our memory as one of the best cookies we’ve all tasted in a long while. These were submitted by “Sweets by Jen” – and unfortunately, no further information about the baker is known.
Here are recipes for these cookies.
Peanut butter sandwich cookies
(Recipe by Tia Hunt.)
For the cookies:
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar, plus extra for pressing cookies
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup flour, sifted
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
For the filling:
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Make cookies: In large bowl of stand mixer, use paddle to cream butter on medium speed. Add peanut butter and beat to incorporate. Add sugars gradually, scraping sides of bowl. Add well beaten egg; beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients gradually, scraping bowl frequently. Use a tablespoon to scoop a well rounded amount of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
Dip a fork in sugar and press to flatten cookie, making a cross-hatch pattern on the cookie.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until set and browned. Remove cookies to a rack to cool completely.
Make filling: Cream peanut butter and butter together, using paddle attachment on stand mixer as above. Add about half of the powdered sugar slowly; mixture will thicken. Add milk gradually, scraping sides of bowl. Add remaining powdered sugar and vanilla. Mixture should be creamy and slightly fluffy; if too thick, add a few drops more milk.
Spread the bottoms of half the cookies with filling and top with remaining cookies to form sandwich cookies.
Makes approximately 24 individual cookies; 1 dozen sandwich cookies.
These will freeze well as a dough or finished cookie. Freeze on a cookie sheet until filling is set, then wrap individually in waxed paper and pack in airtight freezer containers. Use within 3 months.
For the following cookie, the filling can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in refrigerator until time to bake the cookies.
R.D.F cookies – Raisin Date Fig Cookies
(Recipe from Sweets by Jen)
- 1 cup shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 6 ounces raisins
- 7 ounces golden raisins
- 4 ounces dried pitted dates
- 4 ounces dried figs
- 1-1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
Grease or spray vegetable spray on two cookie sheets (or line with parchment); set aside.
In a large bowl of stand mixer, using paddle attachment, beat together shortening and eggs. In a measuring cup, stir together baking soda and buttermilk; add to bowl and mix to incorporate. Add brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Gradually mix in flour, folding last of it in by hand if needed.
Form dough into two balls and flatten into disks; chill till firm.
Make filling: Place raisins, dates, figs and sugar in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to cover fruits. Cook 7 minutes on medium heat; add cornstarch and cook about 5 minutes more or until syrup begins to thicken. Lower heat to low and cook until fruits are soft and syrup is very thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in chopped nuts. Cool completely. (Note: The filling can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Form cookies: On floured surface, roll dough to just under 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 2-inch round cutters (or shape of your choice). Cup one dough circle in your hand and add 1 tablespoon filling to center of cookie. Top with another circle and press edges together to seal. Place filled cookies on prepared cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are done; center will look unbaked as filling shows through.
Remove to a rack to cool completely. These cookies will freeze well, packed in tins with waxed paper between layers.
Makes approximately 18 2-inch filled cookies.