Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Salted Caramel Bars

Salted Caramel Bars

DAY 10: Salted Caramel Bars

A tender bar cookie with a sweet layer of salted caramel. You can use caramel sauce from a jar, or try the homemade recipe below. You will never go back after trying it! The salted caramel recipe below makes more than you will need for the bar cookies, but I’m sure you can find other uses for the leftovers (apples, ice cream, pies, your finger).

RECIPE:

Salted Caramel Bars

Makes 16 bars

Salted Caramel Bars

(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup  Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” square baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil; set aside.

Place the melted butter in a large bowl and whisk in the brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until well mixed.

Press half of the dough into the prepared pan. Pour the salted caramel sauce onto the center of the dough and spread into an even layer, leaving about a ½-inch of space around the edges. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread  until the caramel is covered.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a thin coating of caramel.

Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into 16 squares and serve.

 

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
½ cup heavy cream
1 – 1 ½ tsp flaky or coarse sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (and/or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)

Place sugar in a medium to large saucepan (mixture will bubble up and expand as cool ingredients are added to the hot pan). Cook over medium heat until sugar just begins to melt. Stir gently, trying to keep sugar crystals off of the sides of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts completely and is a medium amber color (about 350°F if you use an instant-read thermometer). Reduce heat to low and quickly whisk in butter chunks, stirring constantly.

Stir in cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Pour caramel immediately into a glass jar or heat-safe bowl to cool. Do NOT scrape sides or bottom of the pan with a spatula. If you do, you are likely to get sugar crystals into your nice smooth caramel. If the caramel has formed crystals while cooking, you can pour it from the pan through a fine sieve into the jar to remove any crystals before cooling.

Caramel can be kept in a covered jar at room temperature for several weeks.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Lemon Cake-Mix Cookies

Lemon Cake Mix Cookies

DAY 9: Lemon Cake-Mix Cookies

A soft, lemony, slightly gooey cookie.

We make a similar cookie with a white cake mix that we call Snowball Cookies, but there was just something wrong with calling these “Yellow Snow”- ball Cookies.

This is a great recipe for kids and beginning bakers, as there is minimal measuring. Kids are also great helpers when it comes to rolling things in powdered sugar. Just plan a little extra clean-up time if you let them help with that step.

RECIPE:

Lemon Cake-Mix Cookies

Makes 2 ½ – 3 dozen cookies

Lemon Cake Mix Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp fresh lemon zest, optional
1 box lemon cake mix
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and lemon zest and then cake mix. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Place about ½ cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into balls (about 1” in diameter) and then roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust cooled cookies with additional sifted powdered sugar.

2 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: German Lebkuchen

German Lebkuchen

DAY 8: German Lebkuchen

A traditional German Christmas cookie. These cookies have a soft cake-like texture and similar spices as gingerbread. Iced with a sweet lemony glaze.

RECIPE:

German Lebkuchen

German Lebkuchen

(recipe adapted from One Acre Vintage)

½ cup honey
½ cup white sugar
2 Tbs butter,melted
2 large eggs
3 Tbs orange marmalade
½ tsp almond extract
2 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1  tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cardamom

Glaze:
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs cream
about 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a mixing bowl, beat honey, sugar and butter until light and creamy. Beat in eggs, marmalade, and almond extract.

Stir together the remaining dry ingredients and beat into wet mixture until smooth.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Spoon glaze over cooled cookies.

Glaze:
Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add more sugar until you reach desired consistency.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Glazed Almond Butter Cookies

Almond Butter Cookies 1

DAY 7: Glazed Almond Butter Cookies

An uncomplicated cookie with a great almond flavor and a glaze that sets firm enough that you can stack the cookies. And no piping skills required.

Bake these until they are barely done to keep them soft.

NOTE: These are almond flavored “Butter Cookies” not “Almond Butter” (cousin to peanut butter) Cookies.

RECIPE:

Glazed Almond Butter Cookies

Makes about 2 ½ dozen cookies

Almond Butter Cookies 1

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

Glaze Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mats.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and almond extract, beating until well mixed.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually mix into wet ingredients. Chill dough for one hour.

Roll dough into 1” balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 8 minutes; do not overcook. Let cookies cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting with the glaze.

Glaze Frosting:

6 Tbs butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla (or ½ tsp almond) extract
1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
3-4 drops gel food coloring

Place butter and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 60-90 seconds, until butter melts. Stir in extract (if you want to use white icing, use a clear vanilla or other flavored extract). Use a whisk to mix in powdered sugar. Tint with desired gel food coloring.

Spread tops of cooled cookies with warm glaze and place on a sheet of waxed paper. If glaze gets too thick, heat in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Allow glaze to set on cookies for at least one hour before storing cookies.

To freeze: Freeze cookies in single layer and then place in a container and store in freezer. Thaw cookies in a single layer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

DAY 6: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

These cookies were some of my favorites growing up. They are a chewy cookie with lots of nuts and a slight tang from the cream cheese.

They are also egg-free if you are baking for people with allergies.

Thanks Mom!

RECIPE:

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and beat well. Stir in nuts.

Shape dough  into 1” balls. Place on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire rack.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Thumbprints with Homemade Caramel Filling

Chocolate Thumbprints

DAY 5: Chocolate Thumbprints with Homemade Caramel Filling

If you are feeling extra ambitious, instead of making these chocolate thumbprint cookies with melted packaged caramels, you can make your own caramel filling.

With a candy thermometer, the caramel filling comes together quickly and turns a good cookie into a fabulous one!

If you want to take the “easy” road out and buy a bag of Kraft Caramels, that recipe can be found HERE.

Here is my tip for getting a good deep pocket for all of that amazing caramel: Use the back of a rounded measuring spoon and press it into the center of each cookie. I use a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon on the raw cookie dough and then a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon on the hot, baked cookie. This is a good alternative to actually using (and burning) your thumbs.

2016-12-14 09.28.48

2016-12-14 09.57.53

RECIPE:

Chocolate Thumbprints with Homemade Caramel Filling

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Chocolate Thumbprints

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Homemade Caramel Filling (recipe below)

Glaze:
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs corn syrup

Prepare Cookies: Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, milk and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt. Beat until well combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place egg whites in a small bowl. Place finely chopped pecans in a bowl. Set aside. Roll dough into balls. Dip balls into egg white and then into pecans. (I find this easier if I make a whole baking sheet worth of dough balls, then dip them in egg/pecans). Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Make a small indentation in the center of each cookie with the back of measuring spoon (I use a ½ teaspoon) or your thumb.

Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes, or until cookies are set.

While cookies are still hot, press center again (use the back of a round 1 teaspoon measuring spoon). Cool.

Prepare Caramel Filling (recipe below).
Spoon small amount of warm caramel into centers of baked cookies. Carefully remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Prepare Chocolate Glaze: Combine bittersweet chips, butter and corn syrup in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for another 20-30 seconds if not melted. Let cool slightly. Pour chocolate into a small Ziploc freezer bag. Poke a hole in the corner of the bag (a bamboo skewer makes a perfect sized hole). Drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies. Cool until set.

To store: refrigerate or freeze cookies in individual layers; then store between layers of waxed paper in the refrigerator or freezer. They can also be stored at room temperature, but if you stack them, they will stick together.


Homemade Caramel Filling

1 cup unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbs heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt

Combine butter, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, corn syrup and heavy cream in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium low, maintaining a low but continuous simmer, until caramel reaches 235°F (soft ball stage), stirring occasionally. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.

5 Comments

Filed under Candy, Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and other stuff): Roasted Spiced Pecans

Roasted Spiced Pecans

DAY 4: Roasted Spiced Pecans

These slightly spicy nuts are my family’s very favorite snack. I make them all year round, at least once or twice a month.

And since this is a savory treat, not a sweet one, you can feel good about dipping into these all through the holidays!

RECIPE:

Roasted Spiced Pecans

Yield: 6 cups

Roasted Spiced Pecans

6 cups (24oz bag) pecan halves
5 Tbs butter
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Sriracha sauce (adjust to taste)
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
¾ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground mustard

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Place pecan halves in a large mixing bowl. Melt butter in a glass measuring cup or small bowl. Stir in remaining seasonings and mix well. Pour butter mixture over pecans and stir until pecans are well coated.

Spread pecans in an even layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; stir and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes. Allow pecans to cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally as they cool. Store in an airtight container.

Leave a comment

Filed under Appetizers

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cinnamon Brown Sugar Blondies

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Squares 1

DAY 3: Cinnamon Brown Sugar Blondies

These bar cookies are as simple as they come: One Bowl, No Mixer Needed, No Waiting for Butter to Soften, No Last Minute Trip to the Store for Ingredients, No Scooping Multiple Batches of Cookie Dough, No Waiting by the Oven to Switch Baking Sheets

And they are super good: like snickerdoodles, but without all of the work.

Some days it is just all about simple.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Squares 2

RECIPE:

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Blondies

Makes 32 squares

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Squares 1

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
Cinnamon Sugar: 1 Tbs sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8” square baking pans (or spray with Baking Pam).

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave. Use a wooden spoon or curved spatula to stir sugars into melted butter until incorporated. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking pans. Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake at 350°F for 26-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and then cut into squares.

2 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies (Egg Free)

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

DAY 2: Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are soft and chewy, and egg-free for those with allergies. I like to keep them on hand for my daughter’s friend who has an egg allergy (if I can keep other hands out of the container!).

Here are some other egg-free cookie recipes:

RECIPE:

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies (egg-free)

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

(recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups  chocolate chips

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

In a mixing  bowl, cream together the cream cheese, melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients and then mix into the butter mixture. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.

Roll the dough into 1 to 1 ½-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are just barely golden brown. Cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet and then move to a cooling rack.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

9th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Almond Toffee Sandies

Almond Toffee Sandies 3

Welcome to December and No Empty Chairs’ 9th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies Celebration! Twelve more days – Twelve more cookies.

DAY 1: Almond Toffee Sandies

Similar to Pecan Sandies, but with the sweet, crunchy addition of caramel toffee bits. A new family favorite!

Almond Toffee Sandies 1

Sharing cookies and treats is one of my favorite ways to show love during the Christmas season. Another great tool to find ways to love and serve is this Light the World campaign.

Need some inspiration on ways to Light the World? This 25 Ways, Over 25 Days calendar gives great inspiration from the ultimate source of light, whose birth we celebrate. Click through for ideas on how to apply the Savior’s teachings this Christmas season:

 

Image result for light the world calendar jpg

RECIPE:

Almond Toffee Sandies

Makes about 7 dozen small cookies

Almond Toffee Sandies 2

(adapted from Taste of Home)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mild flavored olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
4 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt **
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups coarsely chopped whole roasted almonds
1 package (about 8 oz) toffee bits

(**reduce salt in recipe if using salted almonds)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually beat in oil and vanilla and almond extracts.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt””, and cream of tartar. Mix into the butter mixture gradually. Add chopped almonds and toffee bits and mix well.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12-13 minutes, until bottom of cookies just begin to brown. Cool on wire racks.

Light the World Image

Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts