So I know Christmas is over and the New Year is UPON us! But I really just have a few cookies that were baked over the last few weeks that I haven't been able to share yet, and want to. Why? Because they were/are that good and you need to know about them! ; ) Besides that, most of them don't have to be Christmas cookies, they are good for anytime !
The first cookie I want you too see/have the recipe for hails from none other than Anna from Cookie Madness. She made these in November and I fell in love with them. Okay, maybe it was just lust or puppy love, but I needed to make them. So I did, for a Christmas cookie exchange December 11. (I told you I was a little behind!)
Chocolate Caramel Turtle Treasures! Go to the link to Anna's blog above and get the recipe. I followed it to a tee.
I used a little "trick" I'd been hearing about for the caramel. Boil a can of Borden's Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (label removed) in a pot, completely covering the can with water at all times, for four hours. The milk "magically" turns to an amazing caramel. See--
If you're a turtle's candy lover, these cookies are for you! The really nice chocolate cookie dough is rolled in chopped pecans, indented for the caramel crater and baked, then filled with caramel, topped with a whole toasted pecan, and drizzled with melted chocolate. It's a mouthful to describe and a delicious mouthful to eat! (Thanks, Anna!--she used melted candy caramels to fill her cookies and it worked great, too.)
The next thing I made for the Christmas plates that I wanted to share with you were from a recipe I received when I went to a cookie baking class at our local health foods/organic store, The Merc, with my friend, Ellen! (Hi Ellen!) What a fun class. Sit and watch the teacher make yummy cookies, get the recipes, and taste all the cookies! Right up my alley! ; ) These were my favorite cookies that were made that night. She showed us how to make our own caramel by just cooking sugar on the stove until it caramelized. When it was up to the proper temperature, she added a little butter, a lot of cream and vanilla.
I didn't do that. Hello, too much work (although I may do it that way someday)! I used more of that caramelized sweetened condensed milk I'd made, which by the way was fat free. (I always buy the fat free kind.) Here's the recipe, and the homemade caramel, which I'll include for you. These "bars" are so good and rich, that they really can be cut pretty small, even in to about one inch squares, which is what I did.
Chocolate Caramel Bars (a.k.a. Danger Bars), true source unknown
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 oz. (about 1 cup) semi sweet chocolate chips (or bittersweet)
4 oz. walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Sweetened condensed milk homemade caramel (boil 1 can of milk completely covered at all times in large pot of water for four hours, cool before opening can)
Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt in medium sized bowl. Whisk together, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in the dry ingredients just until homogenous and crumbly. Scoop out one cup of the "crumbles" and set aside.
Butter the sides only of a 9x13 inch baking pan. (I line my pan with foil for easy release!) Press the remaining crumbs of dough into the pan in an even layer. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Spread the caramel evenly over the cooled crust. Scatter the walnuts, chocolate and reserved crumbs of dough evenly over the caramel. Return to the oven and bake until the caramel is bubbling over the entire surface of the bars--about 20 minutes.
Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. Use a small sharp knife or metal spatula to separate the bars from the sides of the pan. Lift from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut into desired sized bars. Store in an airtight container with wax paper in between layers.
The condensed milk caramel was perfect with these. It was soft and gooey and didn't get more hardened and sticky, but the bars held together well. These dangerous little bites of heaven were given away as fast as I could get rid of them!
Oh, there were so many other things I did for the holiday baking and some I didn't even photograph!
Paula Deen's Mexican Wedding Cookies are a favorite of mine and I pretty much make them every year. She makes hers in crescent shapes, I did some flattened and some as snowballs. They are so "flaky" and tender and nutty.
And lastly, although there's a lot more that went on the plates that I just won't get to, but I have a confession to make. I love these---
Chocolate and white chocolate covered pretzels (these are Snyder's brand sourdough nugget pretzels). I made a lot of these! But the secret is that I always thought it was white chocolate that I liked so much. I like the white ones better than the chocolate ones. But I just discovered that it's not white chocolate that I enjoy so much with these, it's those big blocks of vanilla almond bark! Yep. I'll admit it. Those cheap, big blocks of vanilla badness are my weakness here. So there. These were so easy to make, obviously just melt the chocolate or almond bark of your choice and dunk whatever pretzels you want in it. Lift them with a fork out of the chocolate and place them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with holiday sprinkles. Let harden. Again, I love my garage sized "freezer" this time of year. Right outside our door to the garage is a deep freeze that perfectly holds many air tight packaged goodies until they are ready for use. We've even been keeping gallons of milk out there--it's been that cold! I do miss that in the summer when there is nowhere to put things to cool.
So, there you have it--just some of the goodies I made this Christmas. There's more, but a few I've already posted in the past and some will just go unwritten for now. Stay tuned though, because I baked more stuff today--some yummy, healthy Girl Scout Samoa wannabes and what else, chocolate chip cookies!
Have a wonderful, safe New Year!