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Chocolate peanut butter crinkles

Chocolate peanut butter crinkles
Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Beyond the colorful decorations and after the initial rush of sugar, holiday cookies are about memories, tradition and sharing with those close to us. Be they humble or ornate, our baked goods are used to celebrate and give thanks — thanks for our childhoods, the blessings of family and friends and the magic that can be found only this time of year.

This fall, we again asked L.A. Times readers to share their special cookie recipes with us for our fourth annual Holiday Cookie Bake-Off and then to help us narrow down their favorites to the top 50.

We received more than 250 submissions, and more than 3,700 votes were cast. We took the top vote-getters to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, where students spent one Saturday morning baking batches of cookies. L.A. Times Food Editor Russ Parsons, Deputy Food Editor Betty Hallock and Times Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter joined KCRW's "Good Food" host, Evan Kleiman, to taste and test each cookie, narrowing it to our 10 favorites.

Earlier this week, the L.A. Times Test Kitchen was jammed with happy bakers and their helpers for this year's photo shoot. Amazing cookies, memories and traditions were shared. The Czechoslovakian nut bars bring back memories of a finalist's Slovak heritage. The holiday crescent cookies bring sisters together one afternoon each year to bake in their mother's honor. The frosted orange crispies were given to a finalist years ago by a military wife; she would serve her cookies on a silver tray at the officers club. The candy cane chocolate mandel bread is a merging of holidays for one family, Hanukkah and Christmas honored together.

As much as holiday cookies might keep memories and tradition alive, they also help to share memories and traditions with new friends in new places. One family is known far and wide for its chocolate peppermint snaps: "Everywhere we have lived — Madrid, Nairobi, Suva, SoCal — we've given these cookies as Christmas gifts to friends."

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Total time: 40 minutes, plus chilling time | Makes about 4 dozen cookies
Note: "When I first decided to make these cookies, I found I did not have baking chocolate in the house. But I did know the conversion for baking chocolate to cocoa plus fat. Instead of using butter or oil, I used peanut butter and have been making them this way ever since." — Carol Gendel
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Step 1In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, mix together the oil, cocoa, granulated sugar and peanut butter until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, then beat in the vanilla.

Step 2In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture until combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate until well-chilled, preferably overnight.

Step 3Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the powdered sugar in a bowl. Drop teaspoonfuls of the chilled dough into the powdered sugar, then roll, shaping the dough into a ball. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are just set to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes, being careful not to overbake. Rotate the cookies halfway through for even baking.

Step 4Cool the cookies on the baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a rack . Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. Store the cookies in an airtight container; the cookies can also be frozen.

Each of 48 cookies:
Calories 98; Protein 2 grams; Carbohydrates 16 grams; Fiber 1 gram; Fat 4 grams; Saturated fat 1 gram; Cholesterol 16 mg; Sugar 11 grams; Sodium 57 mg
Found a problem? Let us know at cookbook@latimes.com
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