Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Chews

Another hit from Rose's Christmas Cookies.

These little squares are rich with a deep caramel flavor. The cookie base has oatmeal and brown sugar in it and the topping has toasted walnuts. Indulgent! Just right for the holidays.

Caramel Topping:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup (use a greased liquid measuring cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Cookie Base:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 (3-ounce) bars semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Caramel Topping:
In a heavy, medium-sized saucepan combine the sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Stop stirring and continue boiling until the mixture caramelizes to a deep amber (candy thermometer will read 370 degrees) (Twice I cooked the caramel to 370 – using a different candy thermometer each time – and twice I burned the caramel. Mine was plenty amber-looking by 355 to 360 degrees.). Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and cream, using a long-handled ladle to pour the cream gradually to avoid spattering. Lumps will form but they will dissolve with further cooking.

Return the caramel to the range and continue boiling on medium-high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees.

Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared cup and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour (caramel should still be pourable). Stir in the vanilla extract after 10 minutes

Cookie Base:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides only of a 9x13” pan. (I lined a 9x13” metal baking pan with parchment paper and lightly greased it. That way, after they baked, I could just lift the whole batch from the pan. Much easier.)

Beat together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl at medium speed until well mixed. At low speed add the melted butter.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan and pat it in to coat the bottom evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on the chocolate pieces and walnuts. Drizzle the caramel mixture evenly on the top and return the pan to the oven for 20 minutes or until bubbling.

Allow the chews to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Use a small metal spatula or pancake turner to dislodge the sides and invert the chews onto a plastic-wrap covered cookie sheet. Reinvert it onto a cutting surface and cut it lengthwise into 4 strips (each about 2 inches wide). Place on paper towels for at least 15 minutes to absorb the excess butter.

I had to read that twice and both times, I thought, “Huh?”

Or do what I did: I lifted the batch from the pan by lifting the parchment paper. I used two cutting boards to do the inverting and reinverting.

These little suckers are rich and I cut them in much smaller pieces; mine were more like 1 ½ inches by 1 ½ inches and that was just right.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature, each layer separated by wax paper.

Keeps about 3 weeks at room temperature or several months refrigerated or frozen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Icebox Cookie: Orange Sable Cookies

From Martha Stewart. Hers are much prettier than mine. That's okay; they all taste good.

1 1/4 cups whole blanched almonds
1 cup confectioners' sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (2 to 3 oranges)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sanding or granulated sugar, for rolling

Place almonds and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal; set aside.

Place butter and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. On low, add almond mixture; beat until combined, 10 to 15 seconds. Add egg and orange juice; combine. Add flour; combine.

Place two 12-by-16-inch pieces of parchment on a clean work surface. Divide dough in half. Form a rough log with each half; place on parchment. Fold parchment over dough; use a ruler to roll and press dough into 1 1/2-inch-diameter logs. Wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours.

If desired, finely chop candied ginger and put in a wide, shallow container. Place chilled cookie dough roll in the ginger and roll, pressing ginger into the dough. I also added a sprinkle of crunchy raw sugar, too.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Spread sanding sugar in a baking pan. Unwrap logs; roll in sugar to coat. Cut into scant 1/4-inch-thick rounds; place on sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until edges turn golden, about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Bake or freeze remaining dough.

Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rose's Crescents

These cookies may not be the showiest cookies on the table. No sparkles or glittering red and green sugar. But one bite...

They are delicate and melt in the mouth. I wish I had one right now.

After baking they do a little roll in a bowl of superfine sugar with a hint of cinnamon is perfect. I had thought about adding a bit of freshly grated nutmeg to the mixture but didn't; the first time I make a recipe I like to go exactly by the directions before I add my own touches and twists. I'm glad I didn't add anything else - it was just right.

Recipe from Rose's Christmas Cookies, a fabulous cookbook.

2/3 cup slivered blanched almonds
1/3 cup sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups of flour

1/2 cup superfine sugar*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*Make your own superfine sugar by whirling granulated sugar in the food processor a bit.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Soften the butter. Grind the almonds very finely. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almonds, butter, and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour and salt and beat them into the mixture on low speed until incorporated.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the dough into 8 portions. Work with 1 section at a time, keeping the remainder of the dough refrigerated. Knead the dough between floured hands until malleable. Pinch off a portion and roll it into a 3/4-inch round ball. On a lightly floured surface roll each ball into a cylinder with tapered ends, about 3 inches long by 1/2-inch thick. Form each cylinder into a crescent shape and place on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Cool the cookies on sheets for 10 minutes. While still warm, lift cookies from the baking sheet and dip them, one at a time, in the cinnamon mixture, turning gently to coat all over. Finish cooling the cookies on wire racks.

Cookies keep 1 month at room temperature, 1 month refrigerated, or several months frozen.

Makes 5 dozen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


You may have seen this toffee recipe before, like last year at Christmas.

It's a classic.

1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped blanched almonds (or coarsely chopped pecans, walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts)
1 cup unsalted butter (do not substitute)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped chocolate or chocolate chips

Butter a 9x13” pan. Sprinkle half of nuts in greased pan and set aside.

Melt butter, sugar, and water together over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often until temperature reaches 300°. Remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and let harden. Sprinkle chocolate over the top and let stand for 5 minutes. Spread chocolate over the top and sprinkle with additional chopped nuts while chocolate is still warm.

Let cool completely and break into pieces.

Keeps well in an airtight container. Can also be frozen; wrap well and place in airtight container.

Chocolate Mocha Cookies

I make these year 'round although Christmas seems especially appropriate for cookies.

What I like about these is that you can mix up the dough, shape into a log and slice and bake the cookies or you can roll out the dough and use cookie cutters. This cookie dough works with you. You can pinch off a bit, shape it into a ball, and roll it in sugar before placing it on the baking pan and gently smooshing it down.

2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons instant coffee
heaping 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

If you’d like to make your own slice and bake cookies, after dough is well chilled, shape into a log shape, about two inches or so in diameter. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in aluminum foil and place in a freezer zip-top bag.

When ready to bake, slice off rounds about 1/4-inch thick and place on ungreased baking sheet. No need to thaw first.

Dough can also be rolled out on a lightly floured surface and cut out with cookie cutters.)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Bake for about 8 minutes or until set. Cool slightly on baking sheet; remove and cool completely on wire rack.