Caramel & Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

What? Caramel and pretzels in a chocolate chip cookie? Yes I did it and it is good. Really good. The pretzels add an unexpected salty crunch while the caramel adds an extra bit of gooey sweetness. If you are tired of plain old chocolate chip cookies, try these. Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 C shortening
  • 1 C dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C dark chocolate chips
  • 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 C caramel bits
  • 1 C pretzel chips, chopped
  • 1  chopped pecans

Start by creaming together the shortening, the dark brown sugar, and the regular sugar. Add the eggs and mix well.

Now stir in the chocolate chips, caramel bits, chopped pretzels, and nuts. I know it seems like there are more add ins than dough, but just stir it well to combine. Now scoop onto parchment covered cookie sheets. I like to make these cookies really big so that you get plenty of goodies in each bite, so i use an ice cream scoop. You should be able to fit 6 on each cookie sheet, and you'll get 18 total. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges. 

Yummy!! 

These can be altered to suit your personal taste very easily. The next time I make them, I'm going to double the amount of caramel I use and decrease the amount of chocolate because I'm a caramel lover. Use any proportions you like as long as it adds up to 5 cups of add ins. Any more than that and the cookies may not hold together. 

A word of warning: the caramel bits get really hard if they touch the cookie sheet while they are baking. The next time I make them I am going to leave the caramel out of the dough mixture then press them into each cookie after it's on the cookie sheet. I don't want any chipped teeth on my watch...

Enjoy! 

Lynn

Caramel Apple Pecan Tart

I was having some neighbors over for a dinner in the outdoor dining room and i wanted to make a dessert, but I didn't want to go to the store again. A quick look in the refrigerator and I knew that apples were going to be the foundation. What goes great with apples? Caramel of course, and I had some left over from the Caramel Toffee Brownies I made earlier in the week. The freezer yielded a package of puff pastry and some pecans, and that's how I came up with this Caramel Apple Pecan Tart. Not a very original name, I know, but I'm a cook, not a writer. Here's what you'll ned:

  • 1 pkg puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 Jazz apples (or any red you have on hand)
  • 1 C caramel sauce
  • 3 TBL flour

Topping:

  • 1 C pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 4 TBL butter, melted
  • 1/2 C oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Keep the thawed puff pastry in the refrigerator until you need it so that it's easy to work with it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start by peeling the apples, removing the core, then cutting them into very thin slices. After the apples are sliced, put them in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice in it to keep the apples from turning brown.

In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, chopped pecans, and oats. Mix it all together to make the crumb topping. Set aside.

Now you can take the puff pastry out of the refrigerator. I love puff pastry and I always have some in the freezer, but it's hard to deal with if you let it come to room temperature. It's got so much butter in it that it becomes a gooey mess, so just trust me and keep it cold until you need it. Unfold each piece and place them on parchment paper. Now you want to dock it so that it doesn't puff in the middle when it cooks. That just means to poke holes in it using a fork. Start at one side, poking holes about 1/4" from the edge, going around all 4 sides. then poke holes across the middle.

Now, add about 1/2 C of caramel sauce to each puff pastry sheet. I store mine in a zip top bag in the refrigerator so I just have to cut the corner of and squeeze it out. Using an offset spatula, spread the caramel to within about 1/2" from the edge of the pastry.

Drain the apples and put them in a large zip top bag, then sprinkle the flour in the bag and shake to coat the apple slices.

Place the sliced apples on the caramel. If there is any extra flour, just shake it off. I placed them in 3 rows then added the leftover slices to the top. The arrangement doesn't matter, just make sure they are placed evenly across the surface and not mounded in the middle. Now sprinkle 1/2 the topping over each pastry.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry start to brown. I cut them into 6 pieces each and served them warm with vanilla ice cream. They were a hit!

Enjoy!

Lynn

Caramel Toffee Brownies

These brownies come with a warning. Don't make them when you are home alone. If you do, don't blame me if you eat them until you make yourself sick. They really are that good. They are more like fudge than cake, and the extra chocolate chips, caramel, and toffee chips make them almost like candy. Plus they're chocolate! Need I say more? They  are so rich that you can cut them into 1" squares and then you'll get about 54 per recipe. This is one of those recipes that has quite a few steps, but it's not difficult. Just follow the directions and you'll be fine. Here's what you'll need:

  • caramel sauce, or any store bought topping you have
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 one ounce square unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 TBL vanilla
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C 60% cocoa chocolate chips
  • 1 bag toffee bits
  • 1 TBL flour

Start by melting the butter, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler until melted. Remove the chocolate sauce from the heat and let it cool. 

In a separate bowl, mix by hand, the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until combined. 

In a third bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Spray then line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some of the paper over hanging the pan. This will make the brownies easier to remove when they're cooked.

Once the chocolate sauce is completely cooled, add the egg and sugar mixture and stir until combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

In a small bowl, combine the dark chocolate chips and toffee chips and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of flour and combine. Sprinkle the chips into the brownie mixture and stir until combined.

Now it's time to add the caramel. The easiest way I found to do this is to put it in a zip top bag, cut the corner and squeeze the sauce out onto the brownie mixture. Just do a random pattern, making sure that there is enough caramel to get some in each brownie.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Cool completely, remove from the pan by lifting out the parchment paper. I think it's much easier to cut these if they have been refrigerated first. Then when you are ready to serve them, let them come to room temperature. 

Enjoy!

Lynn