Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Leave it to me to get bronchitis in June. Not only was I incredibly sick and living on matzo ball soup and hot tea for two weeks, I wasn’t baking and had to miss two birthday parties and a wedding. Not fun! But the minute I started feeling better, I found myself in the kitchen whipping up these easy and delicious cookies.

Cooling

Chocolate chips, caramel pieces, and sea salt–what better combination is there? None, at least in my opinion! Plus, they’re soft and chewy, which is the perfect texture for a chocolate chip cookie. I made the mistake of using the Kraft caramel bits which I had forgotten don’t melt very well in cookies, so when you make these, buy the individually wrapped caramels and cut them into pieces. It’s more work, but will be worth it for the gooey caramel factor!

Ingredients
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
16 wrapped caramels, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each
sea salt

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms (may take a couple minutes of stirring). Fold in the chocolate chips (do not add the caramels yet). Do not overmix.

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (or up to 5 days) in the refrigerator. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. (Keep dough refrigerated between baking batches.) Press a few pieces of caramel onto the tops of the cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. The centers should appear very soft and puffy. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt while they are warm. Let cool completely.

Recipe from Culinary Chat.

Chocolate-Speckled Salted Shortbread

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I know, you’re probably thinking, another sweet and salty recipe? It’s fine, you can call me obsessed, I’ll own it. The combination just works!

These are great cookies–easy to make, easy to cut, and just the right chewy texture on the inside. While the original recipe calls for cutting the dough into 1″x2″ strips, I couldn’t resist using one of my cookie cutters that hasn’t seen the light of day lately. Plus, they’re fun!

Chocolate-Speckled Salted Shortbread

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 & 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces dark chocolate, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon water, if necessary
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, such as fleur de sel

Preparation
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour and salt, mixing just until combined. Stir in chocolate.

Dough will be crumbly but should hold together when pinched. If dough is not holding together, mix in 1 tablespoon water.

Form dough into 2 balls and flatten into discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough into 1″x 2″ strips. Carefully transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake 18-22 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans for 10 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Repeat rolling and baking process with other disc of dough.

Recipe from Bake or Break.

Sugar Cookie Bars

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I love sugar cookies, but rolling out, cutting dough, and decorating individual cookies can be time consuming and messy. Behold–sugar cookie bars! Since they’re baked in a 9×13 baking dish, all you have to do is press the dough down, bake, and frost. Easy peasy, plus there are no special ingredients so no extra trip the grocery store needed!

Sugar Cookie Bars

These cookies are buttery, soft, and chewy, just how sugar cookies should be. If you’re looking for a quick and delicious sugar cookie, give this recipe a try.

Sugar Cookie Bars

Ingredients
Bars
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened to cool room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (optional)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles (optional)

Preparation
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Press and/or spread the sugar cookie mixture gently into an even layer into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 10-13 minutes. The bars shouldn’t have any color around the edges and barely be set in the middle. Let the bars cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth (if the mixture has trouble coming together, add a drop or two of milk). Add in the vanilla and mix. Add the milk or cream and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired.

Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

S’mores Bars

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Every month or two, a few baker friends and I get together for brunch to explore a new restaurant in LA (and to swap our latest treats). There are so many brunch places here, you could spend a lifetime in LA without trying each one. So when our latest plans included a quick bite at Cafe Surfas (yes, the cafe connected to the awesome kitchen supply store), before a shopping spree, I decided to make another version of s’mores bars.

S'mores Bars

Unfortunately, my sciatica had other plans. I had another stupid acute flare up, which this time, I (thought) I was prepared for with Prednisone, but that’s a whole other mess of a story. So instead of sharing these s’mores bars with my friends, they went to the office, where they were a huge hit.

Feb 17, 2013, 5:33 PM

If you’re looking for something gooey and sweet, these hit the spot. The crust is a little more cookie-like that I would have preferred, but it works well with the rest of the bar and elicited only good responses from my coworkers.

Ingredients
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups butter (unsalted or salted) at room temperature
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (less, if using salted butter)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (whole crackers can be crushed in a blender or food processor or else in a zipper-bag with a rolling-pin)
3 cups milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F and place rack on middle rung. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth, about two-three minutes. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and graham crackers. On the lowest mixer setting gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and then mix until well blended. Add up to 1/4 teaspoon of water to the sides of the bowl, drop by drop, just until the dough separates from the sides.
  2. Press the soft dough into an un-greased 9×13-inch pan, preferably non-stick.
  3. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly golden-brown and just set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle then spread the chocolate chips evenly over the top of the crust. Allow the base and chocolate to stand for five minutes or so to allow the chocolate to melt slightly. Spread chocolate with off-set spatula.
  4. Set the oven knob to broil. Sprinkle the mini-marshmallows evenly over the melted chocolate, covering it entirely.
  5. Broil the pan, with the top of the marshmallows no closer than five or six inches from the heat for about 30-60 seconds, or until the marshmallows are evenly toasted and browned on top – watch the entire process carefully. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Cut into bars, approximately 2″ by 3″.

Recipe from IslandEAT.

Mini Hershey’s Kisses Peanut Butter Blossoms

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For the past decade or so, my friends have hosted a low key new year’s eve party at their house, and each year I bring dessert. (Actually, when you have a baking blog everyone knows you’ll bring dessert, but that’s a whole other story.) Because there are people in different rooms of the house, I tend to make desserts that can be eaten in a bite or two, so guests aren’t awkwardly holding a glass of wine while balancing a plate with a fork.

Untitled

I’ve been wanting to use these mini (like the size of a large chocolate chip…that tiny!) Hershey’s kisses since I found them at the store, and I figured New Year’s Eve was the perfect night for a mini dessert. I don’t think I realized how mini the cookies really would be until I started measuring out the 1/2 teaspoon scoops of dough. One at a time. Then rolling each in sugar. For what seemed like forever.

Dec 31, 2012, 11:14 AM

But the repetitiveness during the preparation was well worth it. These cookies are tiny (about the size of a quarter), soft, and have the perfect chocolate to peanut butter ratio. Not only were they a perfect bite, everyone got a little kiss at midnight. (And my coworkers got the dozens of leftovers.)

Ingredients
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar
Hershey’s Mini Kisses

Preparation
Heat oven to 350°F. Beat shortening and peanut butter with mixer in large bowl until well mixed. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture, beating until blended. Shape 1/2 measuring teaspoons of dough into 1/2-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until set. Immediately press one chocolate into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 14 dozen cookies.

Recipe from Hershey’s.

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