Saturday, December 20, 2008

Signature Christmas Cookie: Sunflower Seed Butter Mice

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a Sunflower Seed Butter Mouse

Back before my adult-onset soy allergy, we used to make Peanut Butter Mice, from a Woman's Day magazine back in the 80's, as one of our Christmas cookies. Then one year, I developed a rash and breathing problems while making them, prompting me to stop eating peanuts and peanut butter. I have since eaten a peanut or 2 by accident with no reaction, so I think the peanut butter must have had soy oil in it. Most of them--most of the non-"natural" kind--do. [Peter Pan does not, at least not as of this posting.] In any case, we have gotten used to making the Mice Cookies with other nut and seed butters, and this year it was sunflower seed butter.

Sunflower Seed Butter Mice

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For decoration:
sunflower seeds or pignoli nuts
candy decors (for cake decorating)
red licorice laces, cut in 3" lengths

1. Beat butter and peanut butter in a large bowl with electric mixer until creamy. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended.

2. Measure out the 1/2 tsp baking soda into the bottom of a 1-cup measure and put flour on top of that. Dump the flour, plus the other 1/2 cup flour, into the mixing bowl and beat on low until blended. Cover and chill about an hour, until the dough is firm enough to handle.

3. Heat oven to 350F. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1" balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press your fingers onto one end of each ball to make a teardrop shape. Gently push 2 decors into narrow end for eyes, then 2 sunflower seeds or pignoli above the eyes, for ears. With a toothpick, make a 1/2" deep hole in the tail ends.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Immediately after you take them out of the oven, stick in the licorice lace lengths, before the cookies get hard. Cool 5 minutes on the pans, then remove to rack to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Soy-free considerations:
Candy decors: check for lecithin (usually not a problem).
Soy-free licorice whips: these can be hard to find. I check candy counters all year long for them. Fortunately, they last a long time, so you can buy them way before Christmas. Unfortunately, Twizzlers Pull 'n' Peels, the most common kind out there, have soy oil in them. The ones we used this year are by Haribo, the same company that makes Gummi Bears.

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