Friday, November 17, 2017

Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints

Sometime this summer, when my husband and I were visiting the local farmer’s market, we stopped by a vendor who was selling caramel. I really like caramel, and use it in quite a few recipes. We tried a couple of their flavors, and ended up buying the Bourbon Caramel Sauce. I looked for a recipe that would highlight the caramel sauce, I saw these and knew they were the perfect ones. Of course, you could also make your own caramel.

These have a bit of an unusual preparation. You don’t chill the dough, but you shape the cookies and then refrigerate those, to help lock in the shape. That’s really a great idea, as if you chill the dough all together, it has to warm up too much to shape the cookies, and you lose the reason that you chilled the dough in the first place. They’ll hold in the refrigerator for several days, just make sure they are covered so that they don’t dry out.

I warmed up my caramel before using it, as it was really thick. Of course, I then worried that it would set back up, but that’s just silly as I know that caramel is only liquid when it is warm. You don’t use that much caramel, so it cooled and set with no problem. My caramel was in a squeeze bottle, which made it so easy to fill the thumbprints. The bourbon flavor is obvious, but not too strong, and I think it pairs well with the flavors of the apple spice blend. These cookies remind me of snickerdoodles a little bit, but with some subtly different flavors. These are the perfect fall cookie!

Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints
2-1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice*
Caramel Sauce

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, apple pie spice, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and apple pie spice. Shape the dough into 1-1/4” balls and roll the balls in the apple pie spice sugar. Place on a baking sheet. Using the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in each cookie, making sure that the cookies don’t crack too much when making the indentation. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven, press the indentation in the cookies again, and spoon about ½ teaspoon of caramel in each cookie. Bake for an additional 2 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool completely. The caramel will be liquid when the cookies first come out of the oven, but will set after about an hour.

*I made my own apple pie spice by combining 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon allspice

Friday, November 10, 2017

White Chocolate Cranberry Almond Cookie Cups

It’s not quite Christmas season yet, but these cookies are a step closer to Christmas baking. I had planned to make different cookies this week, but time got away from me and the cookies that I was going to make required refrigeration, and that just wasn’t in the cards. Thankfully, I realized that I wasn’t going to have time to make cookies requiring refrigeration, so I was able to look at other recipes that I had saved and picked these cookies. Yes, they were in my Christmas cookie folder, but it’s pretty close, right?

Having a well-stocked cupboard in this case was in my favor, as I had nearly all of the ingredients. These cookies called for orange juice and zest. I didn’t have that, but one of my friends at work doesn’t like orange, so I would have substituted for that anyway. I ended up soaking the dried cranberries in Amaretto and adding almond extract. My dried cranberries seemed extra dry, so soaking them in alcohol helps rejuvenate them. You could use an orange instead of the almond flavorings. You could also use orange liqueur. You have lots of options.

This makes 4 dozen cookies, so unless you are having an event where you need lots of cookies, you may want to make a half recipe. I was able to bake all of the cookies at once, as I have lots of mini muffin pans! They cool quickly, so from start to frosted finish, they take little more than an hour. I really like the combination of white chocolate and cranberry. These are fairly sweet, as the white chocolate is sweet, but all of the flavors come together to make a very nice cookie.

White Chocolate Cranberry Almond Cookie Cups
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon Amaretto
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 ounces white chocolate chips

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

In a small bowl, combine the dried cranberries and Amaretto; set aside. Allow to sit for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick spray.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar and brown sugar. Mix on medium until smooth. Add in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and mix on medium until combined. Add in the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring on low until the dough almost comes together. Add the white chocolate chips and the cranberry/Amaretto mixture and stir until the dough comes together.

Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough into each mini muffin cup. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool the cookies in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cookies are cool, make the frosting. In a large mixer bowl, beat the softened butter on medium until light. Add the powdered sugar, almond extract, and 2 tablespoons milk and mix on medium until smooth. If too thick, stir in additional milk. Pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cookies. Finish with colored sprinkles.

Recipe from Shugary Sweets

Friday, November 3, 2017

Circus Animal Cookie Blondies

My birthday was this week and I wanted to bake something fun and festive. I had pinned these cookies a while ago, from Peabody’s blog Sweet Recipeas . She and I have some similar favorites, such as Red Vines and Circus Animal cookies. I know that these pink and white frosted cookies are probably the worst thing for you to eat, but they are super addictive and I love them.

I did have one issue when making these, but that was an equipment malfunction. I tried to use the food processor to crush the cookies, and it wasn’t working. I was thinking that the cookies must be super strong! In actuality, my blade was broken. I was so sad! It was actually my parent’s food processor, bought in 1980 or so, that I’d been using for years. I’m not sure if I can find a replacement blade for such an old food processor!

Other than my equipment issue, these cookies are very simple, probably the hardest part is spreading the dough in the pan, because the dough is super sticky. I opted to add sprinkles, because I had them and why not? They bake up quickly and didn’t take long to cool, because they aren’t super thick. The cookies that I topped the bars with melted a little while baking, but that’s ok. These cookies have the same essence of the original cookies, maybe not quite as sweet as the originals, but that’s ok. They are very fun and celebratory!

Circus Animal Cookie Blondies
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups Circus Animal Cookies, divided

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the flour and salt and stir on low, just until the dough starts to form.
Place two cups of Circus Animal cookies in a large zip lock bag and crush the cookies with a rolling pin. Add the crushed cookies to the dough and stir on low to incorporate. Spread the dough in the prepared pan. Top with the remaining Circus Animal cookies and sprinkles.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cookies to cool before cutting into bars.
Recipe from Sweet Recipeas