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Peanut Blossom Taste Test — Four Good Recipes

by on December 3, 2009 · 29 comments

Peanut Blossom cookies were a 1957 Bake-Off entry from Freda Smith of OH. Her blossoms made the finals, but the grand prize went to Gerda Roderer’s Accordion Treats. Though they didn’t score enough points to win, Peanut Blossoms became very popular and 50 years later they’re still a national favorite.  Pillsbury sticks with the version from 1957, Hershey’s uses less sugar and more peanut butter, Betty Crocker adds a little baking powder and omits the shortening, vanilla and milk, and Land o’ Lakes uses butter (surprise!) and leaves out the milk.

Today I baked all four versions to see which one I liked best. I’d predicted my favorite would be the Hershey’s recipe. It called for shortening, which meant it would have a great texture, it had less sugar so I figured the cookies wouldn’t be overly sweet, and it had a little more peanut butter.

After making all the dough and keeping track of which was which…

blossom dough

…I did a couple of tastes tests and found my prediction to be wrong.  The winner was the Land o’ Lakes recipe.

  • The Hershey version was great, but not as sweet as the others and lacked the butter flavor which I really did notice in the Land o’ Lakes cookie. I didn’t think the butter flavor would matter much, but it did.
  • The Pillsbury recipe tasted almost identical to the Hershey’s, but a little sweeter. It was very good and the shortening gave it a light texture, but I missed the butter flavor.
  • The Betty Crocker version was excellent. It was less tender so it had more of a bite to it than the others and wasn’t as crumbly.  It  had a good butter flavor, but I  missed the vanilla and I think the cookie could have used a little salt.
  • The Land o Lake’s version, my favorite, had a good texture (not as crumbly and light as the shortening, but good overall), and great flavor from the butter and vanilla.

So even though shortening improves the texture of some cookies, in peanut blossoms the shortening texture was trumped by butter’s flavor. And while I worried the all-butter cookies might spread too much since shortening cookies usually hold their shape better, it wasn’t an issue. The cookies looked pretty much the same, with the shortening versions being a bit more crackly.

peanut blossoms

Just for fun, I tried making a fifth cookie following the Pillsbury recipe but swapping out regular shortening for butter flavored. That was the worst cookie thanks to the artificial butter flavor. I don’t mind artificial butter flavor in some things, but instead of enhancing the peanut flavor, it detracted from it.

Below is a chart with the ingredient lists of each company’s recipe, but for the actual recipe you’ll have to click the headings which have links.

Note: All butter is salted, so if you don’t use salted you should adjust the salt by adding about 3/8 tsp. per half cup. All peanut butter was Skippy Natural Creamy and flour was Gold Medal unbleached.

Peanut Butter Blossom Recipes

Pillsbury Hershey’s Betty Crocker Land o’ Lakes
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp salt
Granulated sugar
48 Kisses
1/2 c. shortening
3/4 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
Granulated sugar
48 Kisses
1 c. butter
1c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs


3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. bkg. powder
Granulated sugar
84 Kisses
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg

1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
Granulated sugar
48 Kisses

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Published on December 3, 2009

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is December 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm

This is my favorite cookie! I also use the Land o Lakes recipe – so did my grandmother!

Sue December 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

I’m not surprised that you liked the butter cookies the best, but I’m surprised that the Betty Crocker version had the bite you described. I would have guessed that the baking powder would have lightened the texture a bit. Apparently not!
This is a great side by side comparison! Thanks for reporting your research!

Katrina December 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Fun “research”! I had to go pull out the recipe I grew up using that my mom had forever and wondered where she got hers. Her hand written recipe doesn’t say. But it is exactly the same as the Pillsbury cookie (I knew Moms would be the one with shortening!). But the only difference from the PIllsbury cookie is that Moms has no milk.

It is GREAT to know that butter works and is your favorite. Moms would be the same as Land O Lakes but with shortening instead of butter. (We grew up on margarine (cost savings!) and all Moms recipes used shortening, which must have been much, much cheaper than butter back in the day.

Peanut Blossoms are a GREAT cookie for sure.

Judy December 3, 2009 at 4:13 pm

My hat is off to you, Anna. I’ve done similar experiments and it’s mind-boggling to keep the different recipes straight. Now if I only liked these cookies. They’d be great if you didn’t have to bite into a hard kiss. I want my chocolate soft and melty.

Sara December 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Great experiment! I love these cookies and now I’m for sure going to make the Land O Lakes version.

HeartofGlass December 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

I’m so happy ‘butter was better’ since er, I don’t bake with shortening. I know, I know…

I love, love your ‘experiments’–you are the Ms. Wizard of the cookie world!

I like dark chocolate better than milk chocolate kisses, though. I have made a version with all almond butter and dark chocolate. They were really soft, but since they were just for myself it didn’t matter. It would be fun to try different nut butters and combos of chocolate. I’m thinking cashew butter and white chocolate might be good…

It’s funny how many second place Bake-Off recipes became popular, like Tunnel of Fudge.

Anonymous December 3, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Thanks for sharing the results of your taste tests, Anna! I love PB Blossoms but they cannot stay in the house with me. I need to give them away or I’ll eat every last one. I like to make these with Brach’s chocolate stars — they look so pretty, as if you piped the chocolate with a pastry bag.

Louise December 3, 2009 at 8:19 pm

I’m with Judy. These don’t appeal to me either. It’s just something about the Hershey Kiss sitting on top of an otherwise OK peanut butter cookie. My favorite pb cookie is hard core. It has pb, chopped peanuts, and pb chips. :-)

Anna December 3, 2009 at 8:32 pm

If you’re lucky enough to get one of these about an hour after they’ve been baked, you’re in for a treat. The cookie part sets, but the chocolate kisses stay soft while still holding their shape. I’ve never had one that fresh and while I don’t like gooey cookies, the soft chocolate was so good.

Thanks for the tip on using the chocolate stars! I’ll have to try that.

CindyD December 3, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Very Interesting! Would it make a difference if you made the final version using half butter and half shortening? Did you use Crisco or Spectrum?
Like Katrina, I had to dig out my go to recipe, which is an Amish peanut butter cookie, and it’s close but not quite the same. All butter, all baking soda, an extra egg.

Anna December 3, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Cindy, I used Crisco. Really, I don’t think there’d be a point to using half Crisco half butter because the texture was good in both — just a *tiny* bit crumblier and lighter with the Crisco, but not enough to really make a huge difference. One thing I might try is making these with European style butter. It might offer the best of both worlds.

CindyD December 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm

I thought maybe some butter would give it a bit of butter flavor.

Emily Rose December 3, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I was just thinking about trying to find a really good pb blossom recipe! This was pure luck! Thanks for your hard work!

Emily December 4, 2009 at 12:18 am

You’re awesome!

Louise December 4, 2009 at 6:05 am

I was just looking at the dough balls. Did you make a quarter recipe of each?

Yvonne December 4, 2009 at 8:20 am

Hey Anna,
My whole family loves Peanut Blossom cookies and I’ve always wondered about all the different recipe versions out there and if I should stray from Mom’s recipe. I always used Mom’s version–which turns out to be the Hershey’s recipe. I’m going to try the Land O’Lakes one for this year’s Christmas baking. I might try to find a chocloate cookie recipe so I can use up some Hershey’s Hugs, too. They look neart in a cookie tin for gifting… Thank you for the graph–the side by side comparison is really helpful.
-=^..^=-
Yvonne

Stephanie December 4, 2009 at 9:35 am

Anna, Thanks so much for the awesome recipes – I first tried your Almond Toffee and then the Applie Pie (with the DANISH butter – YUM!!) and you have never lead me astray! Do you stick with land o lakes butter for most of your baking or do you ever use store brands?? Thanks so much for the info! Merry Christmas!

Erin F December 4, 2009 at 10:08 am

This is great, and it really has me craving Peanut Butter Blossom cookies. I would like to do this experiment also to see how different they taste. What’s even better about the experiment is that you end up with 4 times the amount of cookies!!

Another idea- sometimes I make these with peanut butter cups instead of kisses. Or I will do half peanut butter cups and half kisses. My husband likes the cups better, I like the kisses better. Either way is great though!!

Jen December 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

These are my favorite kind of posts. I love that you do this! These were also my favorite cookies that my mom would make at Christmas. Strangely, I’ve never made them myself.

Susan December 4, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Did you see the recipe Cook’s Country recipe? They developed it using chopped peanuts to add more peanut flavor. They also suggested pulling the cookies out of the oven a couple of minutes early, placing the Kiss, and returning them to the oven. I got good feedback from my testers.

Heather December 9, 2009 at 11:30 pm

So glad you posted this! I just made these with Jif Peanut Butter, butter and regular. Mine were as flat as pancakes, but I followed the Hershey’s recipe (with same amount butter, as called shortening). I should have likely changed the amount. Was going o bake again with shortening, but this answers my question. Thank you!

Juliana December 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm

My mom’s recipe, which is the best one I’ve ever had, actually calls for a combination of butter, shortening, and peanut butter. It’s a bit unusual in that it asks you to cream the peanut and shortening together with the sugars, but to cut the butter into the flour. I swear it makes for an incredibly tender cookie.

Anna December 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I love the idea of cutting the butter into the flour mixture. That always makes cookies flakier and I’m sure it would do wonders for the peanut blossoms. I’ll have to try that one day.

John December 13, 2009 at 8:13 am

If I make these cookies on a Sunday, but don’t plan on serving them until Thursday – will their favor degrade with time in the frig. If so, is there any way to stop this degradation. Thanks for any thoughts

Anna December 13, 2009 at 8:34 am

Hi John,

The cookies won’t be as good 4 days later. You have two options. 1) Make the dough on Sunday (or on a day when you have more time), wrap it tightly and bake the cookies Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Dough keeps longer than baked cookies and baking up the dough shouldn’t take much time at all. The other option is to make the cookies, wrap them tightly, and freeze them.

Linda from Iowa December 16, 2009 at 12:02 am

Dear Anna:

Thanks for making my task easier…to round out our holiday cookie trays I knew I wanted the peanut blossoms…but where to begin with the “best” of the numerous versions out there!? I think I’ll use the Brach’s chocolate stars…because that’s how I remember them as a little girl (hey, I was born in 1957…a good year for cookies!) We’re going farm girl “butter” — thanks again, Anna!:)

Michael December 19, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I made 10 dozen of these cookies today using a recipe similar to that of the Land o’Lakes. I would encourage you to put the cookies back in the over for 20-30 seconds after placing the kiss on top. In that brief time the kiss softens up completely, yet keeps its shape. After a few hours of cooling the kiss is no longer mushy but becomes soft and chewy. I know this may make it difficult to stack and store, but it’s so worth it! No hard block of chocolate sitting in the middle of your chewy cookie!

Carrie December 2, 2011 at 7:35 am

I too have used the Land O’Lakes recipe and it always turns out great. My only substitution is I used Brachs Chocolate Stars instead of Kisses. You don’t have to unwrap, they are shorter and therefore not as difficult to bite into and I believe they are prettier. Yum

Carrie December 2, 2011 at 7:36 am

Oh, I forgot to mention…I always put the star on before baking and press it into the ball a bit.

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