Chocolaty Caramel Thumbprints


Chocolaty Caramel Thumbprints

Ingredients

1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 vanilla caramels, unwrapped
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon shortening

Directions

Separate egg; place yolk and white in separate bowls. Cover and chill egg white until needed. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat well. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.

In another bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined. Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small saucepan heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Slightly beat reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in egg white, then in pecans to coat. Place balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are firm. If cookie centers puff during baking, repress with your thumb. Spoon melted caramel mixture into indentations of cookies. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool. (If necessary, reheat caramel mixture to keep it spoonable.)

In another saucepan heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. Drizzle chocolate mixture over tops of cookies.*

Let stand until chocolate is set.

Makes 36 cookies.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies


1 cup creamy peanut butter (I prefer creamy honey roasted; plain or crunchy may be used; do not use natural or homemade peanut butter – see below)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semi-sweet, dark, or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips may be substituted)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-combined and the sugar is fully incorporated and is mixture is no longer gritty or granular, about 5 minutes, or as long as necessary (7 to 8 minutes). If beating with a hand mixer rather than a stand mixer, 7 minutes+ may be necessary. Don’t shortcut the creaming step. Stop to scrape down the bowl as necessary. (Note regarding peanut butter – although natural peanut butter or homemade peanut butter may work, I recommend using storebought peanut butter like Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan or similar so that cookies bake up thicker and spread less. Using natural or homemade peanut butter tends to result in thinner and flatter cookies that are prone to spreading while baking)
  2. Add the baking soda and beat to incorporate.
  3. Add the chocolate and beat to just incorporate; don’t overmix or the nice chocolate chunks will break down.
  4. Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form two-tablespoon mounds. If chocolate is falling out of dough since there is an abundance, roll ball between palms to encourage it to stay in the dough. Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are set and tops are barely set, even if slightly underbaked in the center. Watch them very closely after 7 minutes and I recommend not baking longer than 10 minutes. Cookies firm up as they cool, and baking too long results in cookies that become too crisp and hard. The cookies in the photos were baked for 8 minutes, with trays rotated at the 4-minute mark, and have chewy edges with pillowy soft centers.
  6. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Oreos


Ingredients
For the chocolate wafers:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 to 1½ cups sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
¼ cup (½ stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. (No pastry bag? Just spoon it on). Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies


ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 1/4 cups dark molasses (orange label)
7-10 cups flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 + 1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon baking soda

*We’ve seen versions of this recipe with as little as 6 cups and as many as 10. I used 8 and the dough was quite sticky. Use more flour for a stiffer cookie (say, for gingerbread houses), and less flour for softer cookies. It’s very forgiving.

directions:

Cream shortening and brown sugar. Add molasses and mix well.

Mix spices with 1 cup of the flour and add. Add the rest of flour about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating adding water and flour. Combine baking soda and final 1/4 cup water and add last.

Cover and chill dough for at least an hour before rolling out. (At this point you can also freeze the dough for up to a month. Thaw completely before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to desired thickness (I found about 1/4 inch thick makes nice soft yet sturdy cookies) and cut out shapes. Arrange cookies on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.

Bake cookies for approximately 10-14 minutes or more (longer cooking times will yield stiffer cookies). Allow to cool a few minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer to cooling racks and cool completely before frosting.

Almond Sugar Cookies


ingredients:

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 batch royal icing

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4″ thick sheet, and cut into desired shapes. Place shapes on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets. Place entire baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes (this step is important in helping the cookies keep their shapes nice and clean). Remove and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until edges are just barely starting to turn golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely prior to decorating.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies


ingredients:

For Cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter*, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream, or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Use a homogenized creamy peanut butter like Reese’s brand. Natural peanut butter tends to separate and won’t work in this situation.

directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix until no traces of the dry ingredients remain, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is fully incorporated.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough by the tablespoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Place cookie sheets in the freezer for 10 minutes, then flatten balls slightly with the ball of your hand. Bake for about 8 minutes or until cookies are just set in the middle. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet (they will deflate slightly), then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and peanut butter together until fluffy and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add salt, cream, and vanilla and beat until smooth. At this point you may need to add more cream or more powdered sugar as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

To assemble, spread or pipe about 1 tablespoon of filling onto half of the cookies, then top with remaining cookies. Press lightly until filling spreads to edges. Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies


ingredients:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For Dipping:
6 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, as needed
Rainbow sprinkles

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine chocolate and butter in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together eggs, sugar, and vanilla until pale and creamy, about 8 minutes. Mix in melted chocolate mixture. Add dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop batter using a small cookie scoop by the scant tablespoonful onto cookie sheet, leaving two inches of space between cookies. The batter will be somewhat loose at this point, but shouldn’t be runny. It will thicken the longer it sits.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until tops are shiny and cracked. Like a brownie, you don’t want to over bake these cookies. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To dip, gently melt chocolate together with 1 tablespoon of shortening. You can use a microwave, heating on low power in short, 15 to 20 second bursts, or in a double boiler, setting the bowl over the simmering water and then removing it from the heat. The residual heat should be enough to melt the chocolate without overheating it. If you can melt the chocolate ever so gently, and not allow the temperature to exceed 88 degrees F, it will retain its original temper and will harden nice and shiny. Add more shortening as needed to thin out the chocolate to a dipping consistency, then dip half of each cookie into the melted chocolate. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and top with sprinkles, if desired.

Cookies are best enjoyed within a day or two but will keep, covered in an airtight container, for up to a week.

Chocolate Mint Truffle Cookies


ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup (2 ounces) regular cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
36 Hershey’s Mint Truffle Kisses, unwrapped

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese and melted butter in a large bowl and whisk until mixture forms a smooth paste. Whisk in oil. Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. Fold in flour mixture until all flour is incorporated and no dry ingredients remain.

Pour 1/4 cup or so of sugar into a small bowl. Dough will be soft, but should still be workable. If not, refrigerate it for 15 to 20 minutes until it is. Use a medium cookie scoop to portion out about 2 tablespoons of dough. Press a kiss in the center, shape into a ball around it, then roll in sugar to coat. Arrange on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until cookies are set and cracked. Cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Nutella Chip Cookies


ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Nutella or other hazelnut chocolate spread
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter with an electric mixer about 1 minute until smooth. Add in both sugars. Beat on high speed about 3 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low, add the egg and vanilla. Then add Nutella and mix until well combined.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix just until the dough is smooth. Fold in chocolate chips.

Using a small ice cream scoop (or a teaspoon), form the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 6-7 minutes or until set. Let cookies cool about 5 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely.