Peanut Butter Christmas Mice

    My mom came out this afternoon and we made “mice” for Leslie Hoffman’s class at Kennedy Grade School. Mom thought the first graders (in the class where she volunteers) would get a kick out of them.
     Actually this was a recipe Barry and I included in a kid’s holiday class that we taught at the Culinary Center of Kansas City a couple of weeks ago . . . and it would be a fun at-home project. 
      For our class I had the dough made so the kids just shaped and decorated the mice. The licorice “tails” are added after the mice come out of the oven; that means the cookie sheets are hot to handle – an accident ready to happen, we surmised.  So, we lined the cookie sheets with parchment paper and then simply transferred the paper from the hot cookie sheets  to counters so we didn’t have to worry about burns.
    Point of Comparison: I made one batch of dough several days ahead and another batch this morning and refrigerated it several hours prior to shaping. The older dough seemed a little dry when I was shaping and as we added “body parts;” however, the mouse bodies sagged less during the baking process. Therefore, I would recommend making the mouse dough several days in advance and then pulling it out about 20 to 30 minutes before it is to be shaped.

Shoestring licorice is hard to find!
Finally located it in the candy store
at the mall in Salina.
Peanut Butter Christmas Mice     Yield: about 5 dozen
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
About 1/2 cup peanut halves (need 120 to 132 peanut halves)
Miniature red and green M&M’s® (need 60 + pieces)
Miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (need 120 to 132 chips)
60 to 66 pieces red or black shoestring licorice – each piece cut to a 2” length

1.     In a large mixing bowl, cream peanut butter, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
I used our BeaterBlade® to cream the mixture. 
2.     Beat in egg and vanilla.
3.     In another bowl, combine the flour and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
4.     Refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
5.     Preheat oven to 350°.
6.     Shape 1 level tablespoon of dough into 1” balls. Place 2” apart on spayed baking sheets. (If you have parchment paper on hand, use it to line the baking sheet before spraying. It helps brown the cookies makes for easy clean up and helps with safety issues when it's time to insert the tails,)  Of course you can always make the balls a little bigger if you prefer.
7.     To create a mouse shape: pinch each ball at one end to create a tapered nose; press the sides of the dough in to raise the 'backs' of the mice, as dough will spread slightly during baking. Add an M&M for nose and 2 chocolate chips for eyes; gently insert 2 peanut halves for ears (in about the center of the mouse’s back). 
The bodies have been shaped.
Body parts have been added & the cookie sheet is ready to go into the oven.
8.     Bake in 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set.
9.     Remove baking sheet to cooling rack and let cookies set a couple of minutes (at this point you can pull the parchment paper off the tray). With a toothpick, make a hole about 1/2” deep where the tail will be inserted; carefully insert a licorice piece into each warm cookie for tail.
10.  When cool, use a spatula to remove cookies from baking sheet.
They're finished and ready to take to the kids!

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