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Sea Salted Caramel Toffee Cookies

There are some cookies that are just ordinary everyday favorites.  This is not one of those.   Because let’s face it, as simple and delicious as chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies can be, sometimes it’s just more fun to step outside of the cookie boundaries.  Let’s step outside the boundary!

A few weeks ago, in the midst of brainstorming random ideas for the Betty Crocker Mix It Up With Betty Cookie Contest, I somehow made my way to these cookies.  I was driving home from work and somehow caramel popped into my mind.  I’m not the biggest fan of caramel (relative to PB) so this was sort of strange.  I decided to go with it.  I went to the store and grabbed some caramels, a sugar cookie mix (contest rules), and toffee bits.  I was on my way…

Mix up your cookie dough, and then add melted caramels right into the dough!!  A-maz-ing.  I was a little unsure of how the dough would hold up with caramels in it.  Though it was a bit stickier than normal, it held up great!

Then it was time to add in the toffee bits.  Though I figured the caramels would give the cookie a lot of flavor, I wanted them to have some crunch, too.  Toffee bits are great for crunch.  And they also bridge the gap between sweet and salty perfectly.

 

Just let ‘em cool, and then drizzle with more melted caramel, and sprinkle (generously, if you’re a salt lover like me!) with sea salt.

What ‘outside the boundary’ cookie recipes/ideas do you have?

 

Sea Salted Caramel Toffee Cookies

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 package (14 oz) caramels, unwrapped

1 cup toffee bits

2 ½ tablespoons sea salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly spray with cooking spray.  Reserve half of the caramels.

In small microwave-safe bowl, melt remaining caramels on high for 45 to 60 seconds, stirring frequently, until melted.

In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, and egg until soft dough forms.  Stir in melted caramels and toffee bits.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place two inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake cookies 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely (about 20 minutes).

In small microwave-safe bowl, melt reserved caramels on high for 45 to 60 seconds, stirring frequently, until melted.  Use a spoon to drizzle melted caramel over cooled cookies.  Sprinkle top of cookies with sea salt.

Smarties Cookies

Woohoo, it’s already Thursday!  All in favor of the four-day work week, say I!  Actually, I’m a bit spoiled by the fact that Thursday is sort of like Friday for me, since I don’t have classes on Fridays.  But something tells me hours upon hours of reading and writing offsets that fact.  Anywho…

In juggling school, moving, etc., I still owe you a few final posts on my summer trip to Europe — including a tour of my own personal Disneyworld, Switzerland! — but while we wait, I thought I’d share these cookies with you, which I made with one of my favorite candies I brought back from my trip — Smarties!

My sister introduced me to Smarties years ago, which are Nestle’s oh-so-crisp-and-delicious version of an M&M… you can find them all of Europe, as well as Canada and Australia.  I snacked on them while walked everywhere around London during the Olympics (speaking of, how awesome is my Olympics oven glove?!), and made sure to bring some back with me to the US.

It should come as no surprise to you that a few of these little candies made their way into my kitchen and ended up in a chewy, delicious sugar cookie.

If you’ve ever had an M&M’s sugar cookie, these are just like those, except a billion times tastier because they have Smarties in them instead of M&Ms.

Does anyone know where I can find Smarties in the US?!  I might just need to take another trip back to the UK to stock up.

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Coconut Creme Pies

I’ve always had a tendency to become what I call ‘temporarily obsessed’ with various things.  I think it began with watching Peter Pan *every* morning at 5am before school in kindergarten.  That reminds me, I should watch that again soon…

I’m temporarily obsessed with coconut.  I bought coconut milk a few months ago, and I couldn’t believe I’d wasted so many years without it.  At Dunkin Donuts, I finally tried a coconut iced coffee… great decision.  And after finding those Hershey’s coconut creme kisses, I’ve been baking more and more with the sweetened flakes.

After making Coconut Kiss Cookies, I decided to use the same cookie dough to make creme pies.  Creme pies are something I should make more often.  I always loved those Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies.  Two soft cookies with creamy frosting tucked between them.  And perfectly portable!

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Cinnamon Chip Caramel Molasses Cookies

My mom isn’t very into baking.  She makes a mean pumpkin bread, and super puffy “snow day” chocolate chip cookies (called “snow day” because she only bakes them on snow days), but I definitely didn’t inherit my baking addiction from her.  Which means when I am at her house — like I was last week for Thanksgiving — my baking supplies are limited (you know, because she doesn’t stock 5 different types of flour like I do).

Luckily, the one thing my mom always seems to have a steady supply of this time of year are cinnamon chips.  Because as she says, “everything is better with cinnamon chips.”

So last week when I was home, I dug into my mom’s cinnamon chip stash, grabbed some caramel baking bits, and whipped up these cinnamon chip caramel molasses cookies.

Gosh.  Even though I was surrounded by a billion pies on Thursday, I couldn’t seem to stop nibbling on these cookies.  The molasses is subtle in flavor but makes the cookies so chewy, and the cinnamon chips and caramel bits in every bite make for a super sweet cookie.  They are the perfect way to ease into holiday cookie season!

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A Trip Down Memory Lane: Whoopie Pies!

I am so excited to share this one with you! When I was younger, we’d go down to the local farmers market every Thursday night. Most trips, we’d get an assortment of tasty treats from a group of Amish bakers — cinnamon raisin bread, cinnamon rolls, and whoopie pies. Two giant cake-like cookies filled with a mound of fluffy frosting. Mmm. This was always one of those things I thought you could only get from real bakers. Not something that I myself was capable of. Until now. 🙂
While I realize I could easily make these cookies with my new favorite cookie scoops, I just couldn’t pass up this pan. Yep, a whoopie pie pan. A pan dedicated to making whoopie pies. Genius! I ordered mine from Sur La Table and it only set me back $12.95. I was so excited when it arrived in the mail. Normal people do not get excited when whoopie pie pans come in the mail. But Little Bitty does.
All you have to do once your batter is prepared is spread it into your whoopie pie pan and pop them in the oven! If you’re familiar with Picky Palate, you know this is sort of similar to her genius idea to use muffin top pans for giant cookies and the like. 🙂

My mom requested that I keep things traditional for my first go-around with whoopie pies, so I made traditional chocolate cookies with white cream filling (above). But, as you can see from the first photo I shared, I also tried a peanut butter cream filling as well. Both are really good. My own sister, who is quite the health fanatic, couldn’t get over how great the white cream filling was. Enjoy!

Question: What sweet treats from your younger years give you that nostalgic feeling when you eat them now?
Whoopie Pies
For the Cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray whoopie pie pan (or cookie sheets) with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
3. In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture into butter mixture, alternating flour mixture and buttermilk. Beat on low speed until just combined.
4. Spread about 2 tbsp. of batter into each whoopie pie cup. Alternatively, drop batter by 2 tbsp.-full onto cookie sheet, and spread to about 3 inch diameter. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes, until cake springs back when pressed. Cool completely before filling.
White Cream Filling:
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/8 tsp salt
7 oz marshmallow creme (Fluff!)
1 tsp vanilla
Spread filling between two cooled cookies. Repeat. Enhale! I mean, refrigerate until serving. 🙂
Alternatives for filling:
Peanut butter – use 3 tbsp. butter and 3 tbsp. peanut butter
Cherry – replace vanilla with 1 tsp almond extract, and add a few drops of red food coloring.
Mint – replace vanilla with 1 tsp peppermint extract.
I will be sharing alternative versions of whoopie pies in the months to come, that’s for sure!