I went on another baking adventure, today. Yes, I’ve been putting it off, but the I kept reminding myself that if I didn’t make them soon, one of the girls was going to swipe the chocolate candy from the freezer, and then I’d have to buy more. Or another way of looking at it, I’m putting them out of their misery, because whenever they’re looking for a snack, I hear the freezer open and one of them says “Look, chocolate!”. As if they didn’t know it’s not for them.
So, this was a safety precaution, really. And a kick in the pants, for me, because I’ve been putting off doing any cooking for so very long. But I have American measuring cups, recipes, and my mom sent me our pumpkin pie recipe. So, I really have no excuse. Though I do wish I could find mace on the spice shelves, at the store. Before you ask the usual question, let me explain this, once and for all.
When people think of mace, they tend to think of pepper spray. In fact, Mace is a pepper spray manufacturer, and it’s the name of a tear gas. This kind of spray is not legal to be sold in most countries, nowadays. So, when you tell a store employee that you want to buy Mace, you really mean to tell them that you want pepper spray. Because that’s the one it’s legal to buy.
But there’s also a spice called mace, and it comes from the nutmeg plant. Obviously, the one that sells the most is nutmeg, which comes from the seed of the plant, but mace comes from the coating on the outside of the seed. It’s flavor is a bit stronger than nutmeg, though one can be exchanged for another, in a recipe. A quarter teaspoon of mace is equal to a teaspoon of nutmeg. So, when my press cookie recipe calls for a teaspoon of mace and I have to replace it with nutmeg, I’ll be throwing in four teaspoons of nutmeg. Assuming I did that math correctly, of course. My press cookies will look brown!
I’ve gone off topic, however. Today, I made peanut blossoms, which (like the press cookies) are a Christmas cookie staple at my home in America. So, of course, I have to introduce them to my Aussie family. You know, I really didn’t do it on purpose, the first two recipes I’ve made, they both have peanut butter in them. The reason I did that is that cut-outs (rolling out the dough) and press cookies (filling up the press) take a little more time, as does pumpkin pie (making the crust) and buttermilk biscuits (rolling and cutting out the dough). But I’ll get to those, too.
Having made some cookies already, I remembered that a stick of margarine in the U.S. was equal to about 113 grams over here. With it being so very warm out, I thought I’d be able to turn the mixer on, and the margarine would warm right up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to turn the mixer on… or, I thought it was broken. So, until Mrs. B arrived on the scene, I was doing my best to beat cold margarine into submission, with a wooden spoon, and get it mixed in with the sugar.
Again, as you’ll see in the recipe, these are American measures and temperatures, so you’ll have to do some translating, if you want to make them work here in Australia. My only remaining adjustment was to translate Fahrenheit into Celsius, and then see what number to set the oven at. Our oven is numbered about 1-10, so Mrs. B told me I wanted it on #4.
When the mixer was finally working, things went quite smoothly, though I continued to have to swat the flies away. One unfortunate bug managed to get mixed into the batter, when I wasn’t looking, but I scooped him and the surrounding dough out. Yuck, I know. And with no Hershey kisses available, I had to use Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate (they look like Rolos, but don’t have caramel in them). In seems to have worked well.
1 & 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine (or butter)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
~48 Hershey kisses (or Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolates)
Combine all except kisses. Blend and then shape dough into balls. Roll in sugar and put on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes. Top each cookie immediately with a kiss, pressing down firmly.
A word to the wise… I’ve had these cookies in other people’s homes, and they’re always hard and dry. As my family thinks it’s a cardinal sin to have a cookie be hard or crunchy, we’re very careful of the cooking time (ok, I stalk the oven, for the first tray or two), and even pull them out early, sometimes. The bottoms of the cookies should barely be any darker than the rest, and even if it looks like the inside isn’t cooked, they’re still hot enough on the inside to finish cooking, outside of the oven.
For the first time in my life, I baked my first batch of cookies just a LITTLE too long, so they weren’t hard, but they weren’t as soft and chewy as the second batch. I’ll have to make some again, sometime soon, so that my other Aussie friends can try them. We’ve run out. : )