I wanted to make something simple and fun after the golf course, so I chose these adorable cookies. I first saw these cookies here: http://dailynibbles.com/2011/02/01/in-the-kitchen-pink-peanut-butter-hugs/, and immediately fell in love. Pink is my favorite color, they mimic the hot pink/zebra combination that is so popular right now, and they just make me smile. Turns out, as is often the case with baking something for the first time, it wasn't so easy! Coloring these correctly took a few tries...3 batches of dough later I was finally pleased with the result.
To make these cookie you will need the following things:
Your favorite Peanut Butter Cookie recipe, pink sanding sugar, Hershey Hugs, neon pink gel food coloring, and red gel food coloring (optional). I have a Peanut Butter Cookie recipe I have been following forever and I love it so much I would hesitate to even think about using another one. Here it is:
Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (I prefer Reese's Peanut Butter)
1/4 cup shortening (I prefer Crisco baking sticks, butter flavor)
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cream together the butter, shortening, and peanut butter. Mix in sugars, egg and milk. Add the remaining ingredients. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 - 2 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet at least three inches apart. Using a fork make a crisscross pattern by pressing down on the cookie. Dip the fork in flour between cookies to prevent the dough from sticking. Bake between 9-10 minutes. Let cookies cool several minutes before removing them from cookie sheet.
Since I was making pink cookies, I added a few drops of AmeriColor's Christmas Red gel food dye. I read this would make a terrific shade of hot pink. I used a hand mixer to incorporate the color; doing it by hand proved to be impossible for me, I am not strong enough to evenly mix it completely.
I had some issues with coloring the dough, which I will explain in a moment. Once the desired color is mixed into the dough, roll it into 1 1/2 - 2 inch balls, dredge through pink sugar until fully coated, and bake:
After the cookies are finished baking, immediately place a Hershey Hug in the middle of the cookie, pressing it down about 1/2 way. The Hug will keep it's shape as long as it's not touched (the chocolate will half melt from the heat of the cookie). Once the cookie and the chocolate cool completely, the Hug will become solid again and the cookies can be packaged or placed in an airtight container to store.
Voila! Adorable hot pink zebra strip peanut butter cookies! Now, let's go over coloring the dough.
For the first batch I mixed up, I didn't think it was possible for it to turn pink with only a few drops of Christmas red, so I added some neon pink. I baked them and was not pleased. So, I mixed up another batch and mixed in the neon pink, still was skeptical of how they would look baked, panicked and added some red. This was close, much better, but still too dark for my taste. After thinking about it, and not ready to give up, I decided to mix up a third batch of dough and split it in two. In one half I mixed in only Christmas red dye. In the other half, I mixed in only neon pink. Here are the results of all four trials:
|From Top to bottom: Uncooked dough, baked cookie with no sugar, finished cookie with sugar and hug.|
The first column is the mostly red dye with some neon pink added. The second column is mostly neon pink with some red added. The third column is red dye only, and the fourth neon pink only. I had to use my judgement on how much dye to add. I was almost ready to stop at my second attempt (second column), but I'm happy I experimented with only using one color. Here is a close-up of column two and column four finished cookies, the two I decided were closest shade of the hot pink I was trying to achieve:
|Cookie on left is neon pink and red dye, cookie on right is neon pink dye only.|
The cookie on the left had a bit too much of a red hue and in certain light did not appear pink enough. So, the cookie on the right is the winner! I mixed approximately 6 drops of food coloring in one batch of cookie dough. I may add a bit more to darken the pink a bit, but three batches of cookies later I finally achieved my goal and I'm happy!