Caramel Filled Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_7013A few weeks back my very talented friend from The Mill House Inn, Carolyn “Look What I Made Today” Stec, directed my attention to these cookies. As we share a fondness for over-the-top baked goods, we frequently share pictures of recipes we’ve made or think the other should try. As I’ve been on a kick of taking things and putting them in other things lately, this recommendation was on point.

Not only that, the timing was excellent. My buddy Ivan recently launched a podcast* and invited me on to talk about—what else?—baking. I brought these along to share with him, his co-host and the crew. While I’ve been informed that eating into a microphone was probably not the best idea, the shared reaction was one of pure “don’t look at me with my shirt off” bliss.

And, since this recipe yields 30+ cookies, I had enough left over to share with my co-workers the next day. Judging by how long they lasted in the office kitchen (the best measure of quality), this effort will most definitely be repeated. It’s rather satisfying to discover one’s tupperware container is filled with nothing but crumbs at the end of the day.

* I have not listened and the time of this posting. Fingers crossed!

FullSizeRender (1) INGREDIENTS (recipe slightly modified from Two Peas and Their Pod)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 + 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pretzels
  • 15 – 20 caramels, cut in half
  • Small pretzel twists (30 – 36)
  • Sea salt for sprinkling on cookies

DIRECTIONS (makes about 30 – 36)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand up mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add eggs (one at a time) until completely incorporated into the mix. Add vanilla, completely incorporating.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture until just combined.
  6. Mix in chocolate chips and pretzels until evenly distributed throughout mixture.
  7. Create 1 and 1/2″ balls—about 2 tablespoons—of dough (this dough is super easy to work with).
  8. Press a caramel in the center of each ball, making sure to completely cover with dough.
  9. Arrange 12 balls of dough about 2″ apart on your prepared baking sheet.
  10. Press a pretzel twist onto the top of each and give ’em a good smoosh.
  11. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes (until the edges begin to slightly brown), remove from oven and immediately hit ’em with a light dusting of sea salt.
  12. Allow to rest on the baking sheet for 2 – 3 minutes before moving to a wire rack to completely cool.
  13. Pray that the friend whose podcast for which you made these doesn’t make you sound like a complete doofus.
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Nutella Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen an ad for Nutella in quite some time, you have Athena Hohenberg to thank (or blame, depending on how you feel about advertising). The California mom filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Ferrero, the makers of the CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT spread, tricked her into thinking it was a healthier than it was. Ferrero eventually settled and agreed to remove any sort of health claim from their website and nixed those television commercials from a few years ago. Probably a smart move, as it kept the phrase “the next best thing to a candy bar” from being associated with the CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT spread.

That’s a really long-winded way of saying…I wanted to stuff some Nutella in a chocolate chip cookie. While the folks who tried these all gave ’em a thumbs up, these really aren’t worth the time or energy required. Unless, that is, you volunteered to make something for your kid’s elementary school bake sale and want the other moms (or dads!) to feel bad about themselves for their lack of tryhardness. If that’s the case, by all means, give these a go.

INGREDIENTS (recipe slightly modified from from Ambitious Kitchen)

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of chilled of Nutella
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling (I used espresso sea salt ’cause I’m fancy. Also, it was the only coarse sea salt I had at my disposal)

DIRECTIONS (makes about 2 dozen)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. About 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Drop the mixer to low and slowly add flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Make a 1 & 1/2 tablespoon ball of chilled dough. Now, use the palm of your hand to completely flatten it into a thin disk. Drop 1 to 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of chilled Nutella in the middle. Fold the dough around the Nutella and shape into a ball.
  9. Space 12 balls of your nutella-ed dough on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Give ’em a liberal smoosh before baking for 10 – 12 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, sprinkle each cookie with a bit o’ sea salt and let rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool.
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Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

IMG_6815You can chalk this effort up to wanting to make something without chocolate. I’ve tried this particular recipe a few times before, but for some reason, the results have been dramatically different each time. Only once was I able to get them to turn out like picture. However, with a little bit of tinkering (mainly the removal of the ground cloves—they can be a bit overpowering), I was able to come up with a version that not only tastes pretty excellent, but is rather easy on the eyes. They’re actually very similar to the Dutch Cocoa Cookies I’m so fond of (the “crackling” comes from rolling them in sugar) in terms of looks, but taste dramatically different. Ya know, being made with molasses and all.

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INGREDIENTS (slightly modified from Anne Burrell’s recipe for the Food Network)

  • 2 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 + 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, for coating

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DIRECTIONS (makes about 24 cookies)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add the egg and then the molasses until thoroughly combined. Scrap the sides of the bowl for maximum mixiness.
  5. Add the flour in thirds and mix until just combined. Over mixing will basically ruin your life. Don’t do it.
  6. Roll dough into 1 + 1/4″ balls and toss in the granulated sugar, completely coating. The dough is going to seem a little “wet.” Fret not.
  7. Arrange the balls of dough on your baking sheet (about 2″ apart) and give ’em a gentle smoosh.
  8. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until cracks begin to form.
  9. Remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Give ’em to the old biddies at church. Old biddies like molasses cookies. Reminds ’em of growing up during the Depression and they don’t require teeth.
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Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies

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Chocolate and peanut butter by themselves are, inarguably, all sorts of good.* The combination of the two? Damn near perfect. So, why not take some of the latter and stuff it into a cookie made of the former? Done.

These cookies are a little more complicated than your basic drop variety, but not much. It amounts to just another few steps in the process. The extra—and, really, it’s not that much—effort pays off with a ridiculously moist, deeply chocolate treat that’s sure to impress your co-workers or whoever else you decide to give them to rather than locking the door, drawing the shades, and eating them all yourself. Because you would never do that.

*Unless you have an allergy. Sorry you have such a lame immune system and can’t enjoy awesome things. 

IMG_6781INGREDIENTS (modified from All Recipes)

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

DIRECTIONS (makes about 20)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to throughly combine confectioner’s sugar and peanut butter.
  3. Roll peanut butter mixture into 1″ balls and chill in refrigerator.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer set on medium, mix together butter, sugars, and peanut butter until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  6. Add eggs (one at a time), vanilla, and milk and mix until fully incorporate…you may need to scrape the sites of the bowl.
  7. Slowly add the flour mixture (to avoid a cocoa colored plume covering everything within a 2 feet radius) and mix until combined.
  8. Roll 1.5 tablespoon ball of cookie dough and flatten (like, really flatten) in the palm of your hand. Place peanut butter ball in the middle, wrap the dough around it, and roll yet another ball.
  9. Place 12 on cookie sheet and give each ball a liberal smoosh with the palm of your hand.
  10. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, remove from oven and allow to sit on baking sheet for 1 – 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  11. Finish watching the new season of Daredevil on Netflix.
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Coffee, Toffee, and Chocolate Crispy Cereal Treats

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In a less litigious world, these would be called what they are: Rice Krispie Treats® with toffee, coffee, and chocolate. However, since Kellogg’s® has a team of lawyers scouring the Internet for any sort of infringement on their registered trademark, they’re called “Crispy Cereal Treats.” Doesn’t have the same ring to it, but receiving a strongly worded letter doesn’t sound too pleasant either. So, let’s pretend that these were made using generic crispy rice cereal and not the one that was on sale this week—2 for $7!

The original recipe comes from Food52 on the recommendation of the Mill House Inn’s talented chef…with a few modifications, naturally. A little less coffee and toffee (the latter is only sold in 1 & 1/3 bags ’round these parts) and they’re dipped in chocolate rather than mixed with chocolate chips. Still the premise is the same…Rice Krispie Treats® Crispy Cereal Treats that are a little more complex than what you’ll find at your typical bake sale.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 8 cups “crispy rice cereal” (cough cough)
  • 1 + 1/3 cups toffee bits
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 6 cups (about 16 oz) mini marshmallows
  • 8 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate, melted

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DIRECTIONS (makes about 24)

  1. Butter a 10″ x 15″ jelly roll pan (you can use 9″ x 12″ pan for thicker treats)
  2. In large bowl, toss together cereal and toffee bits.
  3. In a large pot, melt together butter and coffee over low-medium heat.
  4. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted (burned marshmallow and butter is no one’s friend).
  5. Add cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated.
  6. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and, using a bit of wax paper, press down until the top is even.
  7. Allow to cool before cutting until squares.
  8. Fill your pot with soapy water and pretend like you’re soaking it when you’re really just too lazy to clean it immediately.
  9. Melt chocolate over low heat.
  10. Dip a side (or two) of each treat in the chocolate and place on parchment paper to cool and set.
  11. Pretend like you didn’t eat three before giving them to some friends.
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Carrot Cake Cookies

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This effort all began with a need to take a break from making everything with chocolate—even my therapist noticed my fondness for the stuff. A co-worker mentioned she saw a recipe for carrot cake thumbprint cookies by Martha Stewart in some magazine, I googled, and here we are.

I immediately omitted the raisins (because raisins are gross), apricot jam (because I’m not 70), and substituted a cream cheese frosting (because it’s better). What the recipe didn’t call for was someone who can’t tell the difference between 1.5″ and 2″. Fortunately, all the omissions, substitutions, and lack of spatial awareness resulted in one of my favorite cookies to date. It’s right up there with the Dutch Cocoa Sugar Cookies that have been my #1 for quite some time.  These things are downright fantastic.
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INGREDIENTS

For the cookie (Thanks for nothing, Martha!)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed finely grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped NEVER!
  • 3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS (makes 12)

For the cookies

  1. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Use a hand mixer set on medium to mix together butter, sugars, and egg yolk until smooth.
  3. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  4. Add oats and carrots and mix until combined.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Roll 2″ balls of dough in the pecans and place on baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, and, using the back of spoon, press an indentation in the middle of each cookie.
  9. Return to oven and bake for another 12 – 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire to completely cool.

For the frosting

  1. Using a hand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until completely smooth.
  2. Add half the confectioners’ sugar, mix until smooth, add the second half, and (no surprises here) mix until smooth.

Cookie construction

  1. Pipe (you can use a spoon too) roughly 1.5 tablespoons of the frosting into the center of each cookie.
  2. Eat cookies.
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