Day 25: Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

I hope that you and yours have a wonderful day full of giving and holiday cheer!!

It’s Day 25, the last and final day of my Christmas baking extravaganza and although I highly doubt you’re reading this right now, I’ll keep it short. This has been one helluva experience for me. A thrill even. I hope you’ve enjoyed this 25 days of goodies as much as I have. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following along.

These cookies are a very welcomed twist on regular, good old peppermint bark. A shortbread base, chocolate, peppermint candies and white chocolate drizzle. Enjoy!!

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Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies
from Bon Appetit, December 2009 (also available via Epicurious) via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped candy canes
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate (not chips)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both short sides of the pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

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Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over the top. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies/candy canes over.

Stir white chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for 30 second bursts, stirring after each burst.) Transfer the chocolate to a resealable plastic bag, snip a corner and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Chill until the white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Using the parchment overhang, lift the cookies from pan and transfer to work surface. Using a large knife, cut the cookies into irregular pieces.

The cookies can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator in airtight containers.

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Day 24: Gingerbread Waffles

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Christmas breakfast. Oh what a joy it is! I’m only guessing. My version of Christmas breakfast is a gulp of water as we rush out the door to get to the in-laws’ before everyone makes a mad dash for the gifts.

You see, my family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve. We go over that evening and chat, drink champagne and slowly prep from dinner. Then we have said late dinner and talk some more until we just can’t take the anticipation any longer.

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SO, Christmas breakfast is unknown to me. BUT if I were to imagine it, I’m pretty sure it would involve something warm and sweet made with love and a sprinkle of Christmas cheer.

Just in case you don’t want to go the cinnamon roll route for Christmas, these waffles come together quickly and taste WONDERFUL! It’s almost as if Santa made this recipe himself. ;)

It’s Christmas EVE and this extravaganza is coming to a sad close. I love Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, ya know? Make these waffles for your loved ones and be of good cheer. ;)

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Gingerbread Waffles:

Ingredients:
½ cups Butter
½ cups Brown Sugar
½ cups Molasses
2 whole Eggs
1-¼ cup Milk
2 cups Flour
½ teaspoons Baking Powder
1-½ teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
½ teaspoons Salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Melt butter and mix with brown sugar and molasses. Add eggs and milk. Combine until incorporated.

Add all dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour onto hot greased waffle iron and cook until nicely browned.

Place on an oven safe plate and set them in the oven until all the other ones are done, to keep them nice and warm.

Serve these with anything from fresh fruit and whipped cream to syrup and Nutella. Drizzly peanut butter or a dusting of snow… I mean powdered sugar ;)

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Day 23: Cookies and Cream Fudge (candy cane style)

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I have a confession to make…

I pretty much hate fudge.

I try and try to like it, trying a taste here and there but I’m always disappointed. It’s just not appealing to me. It’s a cross between a brownie and a chocolate bar and to me, someone with major texture issues, can’t get past it.

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This fudge however is a different story. I LOVE this fudge. LOVE. I’d scream it from the rooftops… if I wouldn’t fall off and end up in a body cast. But you get the picture. This is good stuff. Make it. Don’t argue with me on this one. It’s light but rich, it has that punch of flavor you want without being too cloying. This is my idea of perfect fudge!

It’s day 23 of my Christmas extravaganza and only 2 more days until Christmas!! Are you excited?! I know I am!! I have tons of baking left to do, woo boy!

My only note for this recipe is that all my butter didn’t quite blend all the way into the condensed milk mixture but it turned out fine. I’m betting that you could reduce the butter by a tablespoon or two (if you’re feeling adventurous). I also used candy cane sandwich cookies but you can use your favorite kind of sandwich cookie, the red filling Oreos would give it a nice festive flair!

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Cookies and Cream Fudge
Slightly adapted from Cookies and Cups

3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 t. vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
2 cups crushed Oreos (I used candy cane filled cookies)
1 cup coarsely crushed Oreos

Line 9×9 square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray evenly

In a medium saucepan combine butter and sweetened condensed milk.
Heat over medium heat until mixture is boiling, stirring constantly.
Continue to stir while boiling for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in Fluff, white chocolate chips, vanilla and 2 cups crushed Oreos.

Spread into prepared pan.

Now sprinkle 1 cup coarsely crushed Oreos on top and press gently into fudge.

Chill for 1 hour and cut into squares!

For extra indulgence, melt an ounce or so of white chocolate and drizzle it on top of the cooled fudge. YUM!

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Shipping Safe: YES. Just pack em up separately and make sure they don’t move around or that you send it during warm weather.

Day 22: Cinnamon Rolls (in 15 mins)

10-20-08 038 copyThis recipe comes JUST IN TIME for Christmas breakfast.

NOOOooooo, I won’t have you up at 3am so you can get two rises in before they go in the oven and your family wakes up demanding nourishment. No worries. I got ya covered.

The trick is to do the prep work a day up to 4 weeks ahead. While your dough is rising, go wrap some presents or make some hot cocoa for your honey or just veg out on the couch. You deserve it!

All your ‘hard work’ will pay off on Christmas day when everyone is digging into fresh, warm, delicious cinnamon rolls that took you all of 15 minutes to make.

Day 21 of my baking extravaganza and this is the PERFECT way to start your Christmas morning. Well, that and a shiny new food processor *ahem*

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Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

Rolls:
1 cup warm milk (115 degrees F)
1 egg (room temperature), slightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour plus more for dusting
1 (.25 ounce) package (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast

Filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

*Dough can be kneaded by hand, bread machine, or KitchenAid Mixer using the dough hook. However, directions below are written for a KitchenAid.

Directions:

In a KitchenAid mixing bowl, add milk, egg, melted butter, oil, sugar, and salt. Add flour on top of all the liquid mixture sprinkling yeast on top. Using the dough hook, knead bread mixture on speed 3 until dough is smooth and elastic adding additional flour as needed (approx. 5-7 min.). This dough was a bit sticky so I added approximately a scant 1/4 cup extra, the dough was still a bit sticky. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour in a warm area.

*Hint: To help your dough rise to it’s full potential, preheat the oven to 200 degrees while dough is kneading and turn the oven off when kneading is complete. From there, stick your covered bowl into the oven and leave the oven door cracked open to allow the dough to rise. Or you can turn your microwave on for 5 minutes and once the cycle is done, quickly put your bowl in there and shut the door.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon – set aside.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle slightly larger than a 9×13 pan (rectangle). Spread surface evenly with the melted butter and sprinkle sugar mixture on top. Use your hands to make the entire surface is evenly coated. Beginning with the long side, roll dough tightly pinching the seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal slices using a sharp knife or dental floss, and place them in a greased 9 x 13 baking pan (0r 2 round cake pans, 6 in each). Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

To make the frosting, beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium-high speed for three minutes. Set aside.

TO BAKE RIGHT AWAY:

Preheat over to 375 degrees F and bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Once they are done, frost immediately with frosting. Serve.

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TO FREEZE AND STORE:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake the rolls in the oven for 15 minutes. They will feel set, but they won’t be brown. You might see the slightest touch of brown but they should definitely look pale.

Let the rolls cool completely in the pan.

When they’re completely cool, bag the rolls up, and pop them into the freezer. (To make these only a day ahead, just bag the rolls and stick them into the refrigerator until morning. Then continue on to baking them.)

On the day that you are planning to serve the rolls, remove them from the freezer the night before. Let them thaw slowly, still wrapped, in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Take the rolls out of the bag and place them in the upper part of the oven, and bake them until they’re very lightly browned, about 15 minutes. When they are done, brush them with melted butter to help keep them soft and frost. Serve and enjoy!!

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Day 21: Cardamom Crumb Cake

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I’m going to cheat a bit today and use my TWD post as Day 21’s treat.

I miss baking with TWD, although I haven’t really missed more than 2 assignments (I think) but life gets busy and sometimes you gotta kill two birds with one stone.

Metaphorically, of course. Killing birds isn’t up my alley. It makes me sad.

No birdies were harmed in the making of this crumb cake.

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If you like cardamom, orange and coffee flavors, this crumb cake is for you! Whip it up for brunch or for breakfast or even for company that drops by. It comes together quickly and is best served warm the day it’s made with some coffee and a side of cinnamon infused freshly whipped cream.

Jill chose this cake and made the comment that this is a good holiday cake… and I agree. That’s why it is for Day 21 of my Christmas baking extravaganza!

I have never done anything with cardamom before but I went ahead and bought some cardamom and I can’t wait to find new ways to use it. I halved this recipe and made it in a 8×5 loaf pan, which is why it’s a bit on the thin side, but it still worked.

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You can find the recipe on her blog. Click here to be taken directly to it.

Day 20: Homemade Marshmallows

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I. Love. S’mores. I really do. They make me feel like a kid, a kid on a camping trip.

I’ve never been on a camping trip so s’mores are the closest thing to camping as I get.

Know what makes s’mores even better? Homemade marshmallows!!

Plus, wrap em up in some adorable baggies and give them as gifts with homemade hot cocoa mix and you have a FAB gift. And you might even be greeted with the same reactions that I’ve been greeted with which include, but are not limited to:

“You can make MARSHMALLOWS?!?”

“These are like fluffy little clouds!”

“Ok, you can make marshmallows… you REALLY need to open up your own shop”

“…wait… you can make MARSHMALLOWS?!?”

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Day 20 of my extravaganza and it’s almost coming to an end. Don’t fret my lovelies, because these fluffy-as-a-pillow marshies are sure to put a smile on your face!!

Marshmallows have been on my mental ‘to make’ list for a while now but I was put off by the fact that A) they were messy and B) they could go seriously wrong. I’m talking goopy, sludgy, slimy wrong. But I conquered my fears and I learned a few things along the way. Things I will now share with you:

1) Do NOT store them in the fridge to set up. Unless you like slimy goop. Ick.
2) Dust the HECK out of your pan. You’ll thank yourself later.
3) When it says to use a medium saucepan, USE A MEDIUM SAUCEPAN! A small one won’t cut it. My stove and I learned that the hard way.
3) Lastly and perhaps the most important thing I learned was that if it’s not messy, you’re doing it wrong. :)

So, get your MEDIUM saucepan, your baking sheet and let’s get to making some of the most incredible marshmallows. Store bought ones pale in comparison to these.

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Honey Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
adapted from Joy The Baker
makes about 2 dozen marshmallows

1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4-ounce packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
half of a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and reserved
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and powdered sugar. Spray a 9×13×2-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and coat with the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Set both aside.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment. Pour the three gelatin packs over the cold water and let sit for about 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, honey, corn syrup, salt and the remaining cold water to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Attach a candy thermometer the the side of the pan and bring mixture up to 240 degrees F. There’s no need to stir the mixture, just let it get hot hot hot!

When the sugar is heated to 240 degrees F, turn the mixer with the gelatin and water on low speed. Carefully stream the hot sugar mixture into the bowl and the whisk moves. Be careful onto to pour into the whisk and spatter the hot sugar all over the sides of the bowl. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer until you’ve added all of the hot sugar mixture. Beat on high for several minutes until a thick, fluffy, white marshmallow batter has formed… about 8 minutes. Pour in the vanilla extract and vanilla bean and beat for another 2 minutes.

Spread the marshmallow mixture into prepared pan and smooth with a clean, wet spatula to prevent sticking. Top marshmallow with corn starch and powdered sugar mixture and let set and rest for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When set, remove marshmallow from the pan and place on a large cutting board coated with cornstarch and powdered sugar, Use a pizza cutter, coated with non-stick cooking spray to slice marshmallows. Once sliced, toss the cut marshmallows in the cornstarch and powdered sugar and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

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For extra holiday flair: Use a butter knife and dip it into red gel food coloring and swirl gently into your marshmallow fluff (right after you’ve put it into the pan).

Optional: melt some bittersweet chocolate and dip half a marshmallow into the chocolate and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies or graham crackers. Let them set up, wrap em and tie them with a pretty bow and give as gifts!!

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Shipping Safe: YES! Put em in baggies and let em go!!
DO NOT FREEZE. I haven’t tried this myself but something tells me that the texture would be compromised and after they thaw, they’d be mushy and gross. Just a guess though.

Day 19: Chocolate Mint Brownies + 3 Extra Variations

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Christmas is almost here.

There are Christmas songs playing non-stop wherever you go. Seriously, it follows you!

There are stockings hung by the chimney with care and I’m pretty sure visions of sugar plums are dancing in your head.

Oh, not to mention there is toxic sludge colored mint on top of brownies.

Whaa?

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Day 19 of my extravaganza and I am sharing brownies. Yummy, fudgy brownies. Yummy, fudgy brownies with a layer of toxic sludge colored mint on top of them. Yum.

But seriously, these are great!! The brownies themselves are a great plain canvas for any number of mix ins and toppings. Just be sure not to have such a heavy hand with the gel food coloring… that stuff is POTENT! Easy does it. Unless toxic sludge green is your favorite color. In which case, color away!!

Chocolate Mint Brownies
adapted from The Joy of Baking via My Baking Addiction

Brownie Layer:
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces (114 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (70 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mint Layer:
2 tablespoons(28 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract or 1-2 tablespoons crème de menthe
green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Glaze:
3 ounces (90 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan. Set aside.

Brownies: In a stainless steel (heatproof) bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and beat, with a wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about one minute). Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges of the brownies are just beginning to brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out almost clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to completely cool.

Mint Layer: In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want the frosting green. If the frosting is too thick, add a little extra cream. (The frosting should be just thin enough to spread.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes or until firm.

Chocolate Glaze: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the mint filling and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate glaze starts to dull.

To Serve: Remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the foil and transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into 30 squares. It is a good idea to wipe your knife between cuts with a damp cloth to get clean cuts. These brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for several days or else frozen.

Makes about 30 1-inch (2.5 cm) squares.

Optional Garnishes:
chopped peppermint bark (sprinkle over warm brownies and let come to room temp)

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chopped candy cane oreos (sprinkle over warm brownies)

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a few dollops of caramel sauce (lightly swirl into batter before baking)

Shipping Safe: YES. Brownies can ship great if packed snugly so they do not move around in whatever tin/box you place them in.
Make Ahead and Freeze: YES. Bake the brownies, cool to room temp, wrap tightly and freeze. Take them out one day before they are needed and let them thaw in the fridge and continue with the mint filling and topping.

Day 18: Lebkuchen (German Chistmas Cookies)

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I feel like a bad German. Well, a bad half-German.

You see, I’ve been half-German for… well… 24 years. And I have NEVER baked any kind of German confection, cake or goodie.

Well, I’m here to make a change! I’ve finally baked Lebkuchen and although I’m not too sure if they are ‘authentic,’ they are pretty dang tasty. They are a very spicy, barely sweet cookie. Kind of like gingerbread cookies, but ramp up the spice and without ginger… if that makes sense. Either way, once the dough is chilled it is SO beautiful to roll out and bakes up quickly! Just glaze and you’re done!!

It’s Day 18 of my Christmas Extravaganza and I only have a little over a week’s worth of treats to share with you. Stay tuned!!

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Lebkuchen
Yields 2-1/2 dozen 2 inch cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, stir together the honey and molasses. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar mixing well. The quickly add in the egg taking care to mix continuously.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Add the molasses mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Cover dough and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment (or foil) and set aside.

Let the dough sit out on a counter for 10 mins to ease the rolling process. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into small rectangles and place them 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. I used a ruler and a pizza wheel and it was a cinch!

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until no imprint remains when touched lightly. I baked mine for 10 mins and it was too long! Be sure to watch your cookies!!

Brush the icing over the cookies while they are still hot and quickly remove them to wire cooling racks. Store in airtight container with a cup of orange or apple for a few days to mellow.

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Shipping Safe: YES. I would suggest not icing them if you plan to ship these as that can get pretty messy! These are pretty sturdy cookies. Place them in a cookie box or tin and pad them to make sure the cookies don’t move around.
Make Ahead and Freeze: YES. Just make the dough and shape into a disc to freeze. Alternatively, chill dough, then roll and cut out and place on a baking sheet to flash freeze. Bag them up and place in freezer until ready to bake.

Day 17: Toffee – 3 ways

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Sometimes things are worth the fuss. Sometimes things just aren’t.

And other times things are just fussy because you walk away from a boiling pot of molten sugar thinking ‘oh, it’s just for a minute.’

Don’t ever do that, ok? I knew better and I still did it. Had I not done that, my toffee probably would have been a LOT less fussy!

It’s day 17 of my extravaganza and there are only 8 days left until Christmas. Are your Christmas cards mailed? Are all of your gifts bought? Cookies made? Nah, me either. Here. Enjoy some toffee, it’ll make you feel better.

Despite my self-inflicted fuss, this toffee was really good and should have been really simple to whip up. Boil buttery sugar to a certain temperature and pour, spread and wait. Do the same with chocolate and then sprinkle with toppings of your choice.

Two important notes: DO invest in an accurate and reliable candy thermometer. NO a meat thermometer is NOT the same (learned that one the hard way).

DO NOT walk away from your boiling buttery sugar. Just don’t. It takes all of 3 seconds to go from almost there to ‘OMGOMGOMG it’s boiling over everywhere!!’ Not that I know from experience or anything. *stares*

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Butter Toffee
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen for original recipe click here

Ingredients:
16 ounces, weight Butter, Melted
16 ounces, weight Granulated Sugar
3 ounces, fluid Water
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
8 ounces, weight Chopped Topping: Toasted Nuts, Candy Canes, Sea Salt, Etc.
12 ounces, weight Tempered Dark Chocolate For Coating, Melted

Instructions:
*Necessary Equipment: Candy Thermometer*

Prepare a standard cookie sheet with either a silicone mat or good parchment paper, set aside.

Combine butter, sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until candy thermometer registers 298 degrees.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla until well combined.

Pour the mixture onto prepared cookie sheet. Use a heatproof rubber spatula or offset spatula to spread quickly before the toffee sets. Spread thin. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it probably won’t go all the way to the edges of your pan. This is FINE, you’ll just break it apart anyhow.

Allow toffee to cool completely. Blot to remove excess oil from the surface. Coat surface with the melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with topping of your choice.

Allow to set completely, then break into bite-size pieces.
Store in an airtight container. Share. Or don’t. I won’t tell.

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Shipping safe: YES! Place toffee in a tin filled with tissue paper or some other form of padding and you’re ready to go. If it breaks up more… who cares? It’s toffee for crying out loud ;)
Make ahead and Freeze: NOT SURE. I wouldn’t think there would be a problem, but it keeps really well in an airtight container so freezing is pretty much unnecessary.

Day 16: Caramel Surprise Chocolate Cookies

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Who loves surprises?? I know I do!!

Flowers on a random Tuesday.

A surprise party for my birthday.

A puppy for Christmas.

A pony for New Years…. hey, I’m just sayin’ …

And a caramel surprise in the center of a delicious chocolate cookie. Yes, surprises are fantastic!

Welcome to day 16 of my Christmas Extravaganza!! There’s lots more to come so be sure to come on back!

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These cookies aren’t exactly ‘Christmas-y’ but they were too good not to share. Plus, who ever said that all Christmas cookies had to be laden with peppermint or ginger? Certainly not I. Who am I to stifle your caramel centered dreams?

The chocolate cookie is to die for, the melty caramel makes it killer (albeit, diet killer) but I digress… please make these. Your taste buds will thank you. As will the recipients of these cookies, should you choose to share, of course.

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Rolo Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Pillsbury via My Baking Addiction
yield | about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used King Arthur’s double dutch dark cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
48 Rolo® Chewy Caramels in Milk Chocolate; unwrapped (I made half with Rolo’s and half with Brach’s Milk Maid Caramels)

4 oz. vanilla-flavored candy coating, optional
sea salt or crushed candy canes, optional

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Directions:
1. In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda; mix well.
2. In large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, brown sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour mixture; blend well. If necessary, cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes for easier handling.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. For each cookie, with lightly floured hands, shape about 1 tablespoon dough around 1 caramel candy, covering completely. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake at 375°F. for 7 to 10 minutes or until set and slightly cracked. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes or until completely cooled.

For a little extra pizazz: Melt candy coating in the microwave according to package directions. Drizzle over cookies. Sprinkle with salt or crushed candy canes, if that’s you’re thing.

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Shipping Safe: YES. Be sure to pack them in a tin or box and make sure that there isn’t any cookie movement. Also, label the box fragile to help it not get tossed around so much.
Make Ahead: You can make the cookie dough 2-3 days ahead of time and keep tightly wrapped in the fridge until you are ready to use. Then simply add the caramels and bake.