Salted Caramel Brown Butter Cookies

Today was one of those days where I was strangely productive, despite sleeping until nearly noon. I corrected some data issues and finished the redesign for my startup, learned two new fiddle tunes (mad Breton gavottes), practised two more to death, and baked! A friend linked to a blog post about Salted Caramel Brown Butter Cookie Cups on Facebook, and they looked delicious (I mean, who doesn’t love salted caramel? Really now.). So obviously I had to try my hand at them. In the process, I made some that looked like edible mushroom clouds (but they still tasted good!), and I learned that yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as too much salted caramel. I say this because I was eating spoonfuls of the stuff as I was filling the cookies, and by the third batch, I was definitely regretting this decision (but oddly did not stop).

The blog post that inspired me called for caramel candies to be used for the filling, but it warned that they would solidify once the cookies cooled, so I thought to myself, “Well, I can just make some dulce de leche and use that, and it will remain molten and delicious forever.” Also, I had sweetened condensed milk on hand because it is amazing for things like coffee and dulce de leche, and I didn’t have any caramel candies, nor did I feel like getting dressed to go to the shop to obtain them. Making dulce de leche is just about the easiest thing imaginable (if you have some sweetened condensed milk on hand), and it is extremely useful as a dip for apples or bananas or on ice cream or in some alfajores or…well, you get the idea. Without further ado…

salted caramel brown butter cookies


Salted Caramel Brown Butter Cookies

makes about 30

1 small can sweetened condensed milk
sea salt (I prefer Maldon)
170g unsalted butter
200 g/1 c light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
250 g/2 c plain flour
2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
chocolate chips as you see fit

1. Start by making the dulce de leche. Place the can of condensed milk unopened into a sauce pan and cover with water. Cover the saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer for awhile (I usually aim for about 2 hours). Remove from the water wtih tongs or something to prevent your fingers from burning and let cool (submerging in cold water can assist with this process). Finally, pour into a bowl and whisk until smooth.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/350F. Place the butter into a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Whisk continuously until the butter has turned golden brown and pour into a large bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar, followed by the egg and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornflour, baking soda, and salt. Stir this into the butter mixture (it gets quite thick thanks to the cornflour, so you may actually have to knead it a bit). Once the dough as cooled a bit, stir in the chocolate chips and divide the dough in half (half for the bottom of the cookie, and half for the top).

4. Line a mini-muffin tin with cupcake liners (unless it’s silicone). Place a bit of dough in each well to cover the bottom and make an indentation in the middle. Fill the indentation with caramel, and cover with another bit of dough (I flattened this bit between my hands). Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 7-8 minutes. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove or they will fall apart (you’ve beeen warned!).

Squirrel Cookies

You know how sometimes you just really crave a cup of tea and a Hobnob, especially when it’s stormy outside? Tonight was one of those nights, except that I didn’t have any hobnobs. I thought about making oatmeal raisin cookies, but I didn’t have any raisins, so my plan was to make oatmeal cranberry white chocolate cookies. And then I went a bit mad and started adding whatever I found in the cabinet that looked tasty. This was the end result. I am calling them squirrel cookies because they contain a lot of nuts, seeds, and berries.

squirrel cookies

Squirrel Cookies

makes about 30

1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c (67 g) dark brown sugar
1/4 c (48 g) granulated sugar
1 egg
splash of almond extract
splash of vanilla extract
1 c (125 g) plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c rolled oats
dried cranberries
white chocolate chopped into chunks
handful of slivered almonds
a few handfuls of toasted seeds, like pumpkin, sesame, flax, and sunflower (what, you don’t keep these on hand for baking emergencies?!)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, almond extract and vanilla extract.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

4. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir in the oats, cranberries, white chocolate chunks, almonds, and seeds.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, and then allow to cool on baking sheets to solidify (cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven).

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

I don’t really recall eating snickerdoodles growing up, which is a bit shocking as I love cinnamon. Probably the lack of chocolate turned me off to them. In any event, my first recollection of eating a snickerdoodle is over the summer, when I made them for the first time.? Last night, while engaging in my habitual reading-of-food-blogs-to-procrastinate activities, I discovered someone who mentioned making snickerdoodle cookies and snickerdoodle cupcakes and kind of gluing them together with some boiled frosting. What a fantastic idea! Here is my take on that.


Snickerdoodle Cookies
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/4 c sugar
2 tbs cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375oF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Then, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
3. In a small bowl, stir the remaining 1/4 c of sugar with the cinnamon. Form dough balls about 1″ in diameter and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until well-covered. Place on the baking sheet.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies begin to crack on top. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 18-20 cookies (but we only need 12, so the extras are excellent for snacking!)

Then, make the cupcakes!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c buttermilk, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350oF. Line a cupcake tray with 12 liners.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 parts (so you begin and end with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
3. Fill the baking cups until about 7/8 full.
4. Bake for about 17-19 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

Makes about 12 cupcakes

And finally….

Boiled Frosting
3/4 c plus 1 tbs sugar
1/3 c water
1 tbs light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1. Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Continue boiling without stirring until the syrup reaches 230oF.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg whites using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed, until soft peaks form. Then, mix in the 1 tbs of sugar.
3. As soon as the sugar reaches 230oF, remove it from the heat. With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow stream. Raise mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is completely cool, about 8-10 minutes.

Spread a layer of the frosting on top of a cupcake. Press a cookie on top. Garnish with another dollop of frosting, with cinnamon sprinkled on it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosions

This is the second cookie that I baked for my sister’s fencing competition. In terms of taste, I was a little bit selfish – the coconut in the previous cookie was for her, and the peanut butter in these was for me. Really, it’s a continuation of my peanut butter obsession from a few weeks ago. This is a basic soft chocolate cookie, with the added bonus of some Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and some Peanut Butter chips. Exciting, right? I was specifically craving the type of peanut butter that is at the center of Reese’s Cups.

chocolate peanut butter cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosions
5 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 c sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c Reese’s Pieces
6 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped into 1/4″ chunks
1/2 c peanut butter chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375oF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a double boiler over gently simmering water, melt the semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate together with the butter. Stir until smooth, and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the chocolate mixture and the sugar on medium-high speed until well-mixed, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, and mix until completely combined. Then beat in the vanilla.
4. Add the flour and beat until just incorporated. Stir in the Reese’s Pieces, Peanut Butter Cups and peanut butter chips.
5. Drop the dough by tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 50 cookies

Coconut Lime Crunchies

For my sister’s All-Ivy League Fencing Competition (Part I), I wanted to bake her something special, and every time that I ask my sister what sort of cookie she’d like me to make, her answer is the same: “Something with coconut.” Not being a huge coconut cookie fan myself, I try to incorporate other ingredients so that the coconut is a complementary ingredient rather than the focal point.

These cookies are a variation on a grapefruit cookie made by Martha Stewart. I modified the recipe to use lime and added the coconut, which I think pair well.

coconut lime crunchies

Coconut Lime Crunchies
Grated zest and juice from two limes
1 c sugar
1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c plain cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 c coconut

1. In a small bowl, mix the lime zest with 1 tbs sugar and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt and set aside.
2. Beat the butter with the remaining sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the egg yolks and beat until combined, then beat in the zest-sugar mixture. Add the flour in two batches, alternating with the lime juice, and beat until well-mixed. Then, stir in the coconut.
3. Turn the dough out onto waxed paper, shape into a log approximately 1.5″ in diameter, and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour or more.
4. Preheat the oven to 350oF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the log of dough from the freezer and slice into 1/8″ rounds. Place them on the baking sheets, spacing about 1″ apart. Bake 18-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 40 cookies

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Well, to start with, this is my first cookie of the New Year!  I was in New Jersey for a few weeks, and I don’t generally do much baking there (the kitchen is more frequently occupied by my mother).  Plus, we had so many leftover Christmas cookies that there was no space for anymore in the house!

This first cookie is a soft peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips, which I basically made up in a half-batch recipe.  I’ve been craving peanut butter a lot lately, so I wanted to bake it into something.  I have a particular love for “The Heat Is On” from Peanut Butter & Co. (but obviously not for baking!)-  I dip chik’n (that’s fake chicken) strips in it – an amazing snack! These cookies are great, because they only use one bowl, so they can be easily whipped up in an instant!

chocolate chip peanut butter

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky (I used PB&Company which is not sweet)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 c sifted flour
1 cup chocolate chips (I used a combination of Baker’s Chocolate Chunks and Toll House Swirled Morsels)

1. Preheat the oven to 350oF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Beat together the butter and both sugars until creamy. Add in the peanut butter, egg and vanilla and beat until well-blended. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt until just mixed, and stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Shape the dough into rounded tablespoons and place on the baking sheet. Flatten the balls with a fork and bake 13-15 minutes.

Makes about 15 cookies

Stained Glass Cookies

Once, when I was little, my mom decided that we should try to make windows in our annual gingerbread houses by melting hard candies in spaces.  This did not work out well.  However, I decided to give these a try, this time, lining the baking sheets withoarchment to prevent sticking (a problem with the gingerbread).  One of the great things about stained glass cookies is that they can be used to decorate Christmas trees.  Simply poke a hole in the dough before baking (I used a needle) and then widen it a little bit when the cookies come out of the oven.  Then you can run some thread through to hang them easily.

Sophie likes them, too!

Stained Glass Cookies
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
6-8 oz fruit-flavored hard candies (Jolly Ranchers work well)

1.  Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
2.  Shape dough into 3 disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.  Meanwhile, unwrap candies and separate by color in small heavy-duty Ziploc bags.  Wrap the bags in kitchen towls and pound with a rolling pin to crush the candies.
3. Preheat oven to 350oF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out one dough round to 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured surface with floured rolling pin. Cut out cookies with a large round cutter, then cut out centers (and throw into scrap pile) from those with a small round cutter and transfer to the baking sheets.  Spoon about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed candy in the center of each cookie. (If you want to use these cookies as tree ornaments, make a hole with a straw so that they can be hung later.)  Refrigerate scraps and reroll.
4.   Bake until edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes, then cool cookies completely on baking sheet on a rack, about 10 minutes. Peel off of the parchment and store, separated by layers of parchment to prevent sticking.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Sparkling Lemon Snowballs

And I shall call you an appropriate, holiday-themed name…a Sparkling Lemon Snowball!  This is another Gourmet “Favourite Cookie”, although I did make several alterations to the recipe.  I wish that these were frozen and you could hang them around the room, because they really are beautiful and sparkly in reality.

In other news, I am readying myself for some intense holiday baking (my FAVOURITE activity of the year)!  Unlike years past, I have decided to rid myself of the cookies by feeding them to other people, rather than simply consuming them all myself.  Anyway, I am extremely excited for that, too.

sparkling lemon snowballs

Sparkling Lemon Snowballs
1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 tbs grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
Food colouring
Sanding sugars

For filling:
1 c confectioners sugar
1 tbs grated lemon zest
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs light corn syrup
1/4 c butter-flavoured vegetable shortening

1.  Preheat oven to 350oF with rack in middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.

2. Beat together butter and confectioners sugar until pale and fluffy, then add in lemon zest and vanilla. Gradually mix in flour mixture just until a soft dough forms.

3.  Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in sugar to coat, then transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 3/4 inch apart, until baking sheet is filled.

4. Bake until tops are slightly cracked but still pale (bottoms will be pale golden), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely.

5.  Beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined well.  Spread about 1/2 tsp on half of the cookies.  Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently.

Makes about 30 cookies

Palets des Dames

This is a recipe largely borrowed from a 1952 volume of Gourmet magazine. Palets des dames are similar in texture to madeleines, cakey-cookies which are ubiquitous in France (Wikipedia defines madeleines as mini-cakes but I think of them as cookies with a cakey texture). Anyway, palets des dames differ from madeleines because they have the addition of currants. They are also piped, rather than requiring the special mould needed for madeleines.

palets des dames

Palets des Dames
4 tbs currants
2 tbs rum
1/2 c butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 c all-purpose flour, sifted

1. Soak the currants in the rum for half an hour, until they are plumped.
2. Preheat oven to 450oF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at time. Stir in sifted flour, followed by the currants and rum.
3. Put the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tube and press mounds about the size of a half dollar onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the palets de dames to a cake rack to cool.

Makes about 30 cookies

Chocolate Mint Rounds

It’s…ANOTHER THUMBPRINT COOKIE! Why? Oh, well, they are rather fun to make, plus they look attractive. This is based off of a recipe from Food & Wine (don’t know the issue, but it is online). I was so excited because the issue was about Christmas cookies, and I LOVE CHRISTMAS COOKIE SEASON. It is basically an excuse to see how many cookies I can turn out in a week – last year, I think it was something like 500.

Anyway, these have a chocolate mint base and are filled with a white-chocolate mint ganache. They are really quite rich, so you cannot eat too many of them (I overdosed myself on white chocolate-mint truffles a few years back – I advise you to avoid this!).

chocolate mint cookies

Chocolate Mint Rounds
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz mint chocolates, chopped (like Andes mints)
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c granulated sugar
2 tbs brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c coarse sugar, for rolling
4 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 tbs heavy cream
1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract

1. Melt together the bittersweet and mint chocolates in a double boiler. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars, and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla until well-blended, then beat in the chocolate until just mixed. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Pour the coarse sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop up tablespoons of the dough and roll them into balls, then roll in the coarse sugar and place on the baking sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the centre of each ball. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes; remove the cookie sheets from the oven. Using your thumb, press into the cookies again. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer. Transfer the cookies on the sheets to wire racks to cook completely.
4. In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate. Remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream and mint extract. Pour some ganache in the centre of each cookie and transfer to the refrigerator to set.

Makes about 30 cookies