Friday, October 3, 2014

Salted Caramel Macadamia Cookie Cups

While I only make cakes once a month for birthdays, I can always try to tailor the weekly cookies to individual tastes. One of my friends at work had a birthday yesterday, but I had just brought a cake to celebrate September birthdays, so I figured I’d wait a bit to make another cake. But I know that my friend loves caramel, so I knew I wanted to bring some sort of caramel cookie to work this week.

I went searching and came across a couple of different recipes, and I ended up combining a couple of ideas together to make these cookies. Most of the recipes I came across used premade cookie dough, which I don’t really like to use. I just used the classic sugar cookie recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I rolled the dough in macadamias, because I had seen that in a recipe. The filling I kept simple, but I used the caramel bits instead of having to unwrap caramels.

I find that this sugar cookie dough works well when I just need a regular cookie base. I’ve also used it in bar cookies. I know it’s from a fairly basic cookbook, but I think it is great because of the powdered sugar and almond extract. These are deceptively quick to make: the cookies all bake at once, let them cool a bit, and then melt the caramels and fill the cookies. I used a small squirt bottle to fill the cookies, so I didn’t have any drips or messes. The crumby cookie pairs nicely with the smooth caramel, and the salt is the perfect accent.

Salted Caramel Macadamia Cookie Cups
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped

11 ounce bag caramel bits
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons milk
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray about 3-1/2 dozen mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, and the egg. Beat on medium until smooth. Add about half of the flour and mix on low, add the remaining flour, the baking soda and cream of tartar and mix until incorporated. Do not over mix.

Shape the dough into 1” inch balls and roll in the chopped macadamia nuts. Place the dough balls in the individual muffin cups.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven. With the end of a wooden spoon or the back of a measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Place the caramel bits and water in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the milk. Spoon the caramel filling into the partially cooled cookie cups. Allow the caramel to set for about 15 minutes and then sprinkle with sea salt.

Recipe inspiration from Betty Crocker. Cookie recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, 40th Anniversary Edition.

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