We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cookie Recipe #104 - Choco-Caramel Delights

A pond of caramel surrounded by an enbankment of chocolate cookie sprinkled with walnuts and striped with chocolate is a delight as its name portrays.

Ingredients: 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup butter, softened, 1 egg, separated, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I used walnuts), 14 unwrapped light caramels, 3 tablespoons whipping cream, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon shortening.

In large mixing bowl, beat sugar, butter, egg yolk, milk and vanilla until blended. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt in small bowl; blend into sugar/butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg white slightly in small bowl; set aside. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; dip into egg white, then roll in nuts to coat. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Press thumb gently in center of each ball making an indentation. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. While cookies bake, prepare caramel filling as follows: In small saucepan, combine the 14 caramels and the whipping cream. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.

Remove cookies from oven to heatproof surface. Press center of each cookie again to further indent (cookies will be hot, so if too hot for your finger, use the back of a measuring spoon). Immediately spoon 1/2 teaspoon of Caramel filling in center of each cookie. Carefully remove to wire racks to completely cool.

Heat chocolate chips and shortening in microwave, stirring after each minute (1-2), until completely melted. Drizzle chocolate over cookies in design of choice.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

(Treasury of Holiday Cookies, published by Publications International, Ltd, Lincolnwood, IL, in 1994).

Cookies Rule!!!

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