There’s no milk or eggs that are used as binders, just a lot of glorious butter. It’s a butter cookie so it does have that grainy texture, but that didn’t bother me at all.
I’m certain because I mixed it by hand (see iPhone photo here) it fell apart.
It is a more rustic looking cookie, but there is just so much going on in this cookie — smooth chocolate, crunchy hazelnuts and a melt in your mouth texture that this is a recipe I’ll be making time and again for myself. I can’t find a recipe for this online, but if you buy the book I can guarantee you won’t regret it.
The busy holiday season has passed and I am no longer elbow deep in cookie dough.
Here’s a summary of my holiday baking:
6 pounds butter + 1 kg of flour + Slightly over 1 kg of chocolate = Resulting in a little over 26 dozen cookies
Every year I like to mix it up a bit and try a new cookie recipe. This year I tried Alice Medrich’s Gooey Turtle Bars from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. True to the name, these are so-gooey-it’s-messy. But messy messy heaven. The only description I could give for these cookies were, “They’re really friggen awesome.” The combination of a shortbread crust (I’ve decided I only like shortbread as a vehicle for other much tastier things), pecans, caramel and chocolate is a winner. Turtles are one of my favourite holiday chocolates so it’s no surprise that I love these cookies.
Back to the book.
Medrich has divided her book by textures: crispy, crunchy, chunky, gooey, flaky and melt-in-your mouth. Sound familiar? Martha Stewart did something similar in 2008 with Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I like that Martha Stewart has photographed each cookie with the table of contents so you get a nice visual. I wish there were more pictures in Medrich’s book, there’s about 1/4 of photos which seems so little with most cookbooks providing many more photos now. That being said, it’s not a deal breaker for me. I have plenty of cookbooks sans pictures that I reach for all the time. I like the addition of a “smart search” in the back of the book where you can quickly find recipes that are wheat-free, dairy-free, quick and easy and low-calories treats. The low-calorie treats section (named Less Fat and 2-point Treats) tells you exactly how many cookies you can have that equals 2 points. Medrich makes sure that the cookies listed packs serious satisfaction so you get the most bang for your buck.
I’m also happy to say to say that several of her cookie recipes from her previous books are in here. My absolute favourite is her Bittersweet Decadence Cookie. Absolutely sinful and rich, this was the cookie that was the catalyst for all my baking. I saw the recipe online and instead of making the recipe from the online source, I purchased the book not knowing a thing about baking. Several years later and I’m regularly baking up a storm.
Since my 2011 food resolution is to bake more cookies, expect to see more of this book.
Gooey Turtle BarsNote: I found the cookies easier to slice when put in the fridge for a bit.
For the sweet tooth: salty and sweet, crunchy and creamy all together in one decadent bar. Divine-but-easy-to-make soft vanilla caramel atop a buttery shortbread crust with loads of toasted pecan halves and chocolate shards. Sinful but celebratory. Might as well make a big batch. This shortcut caramel with sweetened condensed milk is fairly foolproof if you follow the directions and use a silicone spatula to keep the sides of the pot clean. Salt fans will want to top these with extra tiny pinches of flaky salt. Be my guest.
Note: There was an errata in the book. It should be 350F for the shortbread.
Makes thirty-five 1 3/4-inch bars
1 recipe Shortbread Crust (recipe below)
1 3/4 cups (12.25 ounces) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey or light corn syrup
3/8 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon for coarse or flaky sea salt)
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (7 ounces) whole pecan halves, toasted
6 ounces milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
A 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan, the bottom and all 4 sides lined with foil
Prepare the shortbread crust as directed.
To Make the Topping In a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan (about 8 inches in diameter), combine the brown sugar, honey, salt, and water. Set on medium heat and drop in the chunk of butter. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula, scraping the corners and bottom of the pan as the butter melts. From time to time, scrape the mixture off the spatula against the top edge of the pan and scrape the sides of the pan clean. Bring the mixture to a medium boil and continue stirring and scraping the pan for about 3 minutes, dissolving the sugar. Stir in the condense milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly, scraping the sides, corners, and bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat so the mixture boils actively but not too furiously. Continue stirring and cooking until the mixture registers 235°F. Total cooking time will be close to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the hot caramel over the warm crust.
Tilt the pan to level the caramel. Scatter the toasted pecans and chopped chocolate over the surface and set aside until the caramel is cool and the chocolate is set.
Lift the ends of the foil liner and transfer to a cutting board. Peel the foil away from the edges on all 4 sides. Slide a knife or spatula under the crust to detach the foil. Holding the bars in place, slide the foil out from under it. Use a long sharp knife to cut 35 bars. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 1 week.
Tender, buttery, crunchy; this is a great base for cheesecake bars, pudding bars, and more.
Makes one 9-by-13-inch or 8-by-12-inch crust
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line the pan as specified in the individual recipe with foil.
In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft or oily. Press and smooth the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown with well-browned darker edges. Let cool on a rack before proceeding as directed in the recipe.
Excerpted from CHEWY GOOEY CRISPY CRUNCHY MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH COOKIES by ALICE MEDRICH (Artisan Books)
Copyright 2010. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Let me preface this by saying I am not a short bread fan. I don’t understand why people find a texture that’s equivalent to sand in their mouth appealing. It’s just not for me.
That being said, I make shortbread every year. Everyone (including my grandmother) loves it so I always include it in my Christmas cookies.
Despite not being a shortbread fan, I’ve always wanted to make the World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan. Everyone and their mother seems to have made this on the interwebz so it must be good.
The dough was easy to put together. The hardest part was chopping up chocolate, everything else is thrown in the food processor. Perfect for weeknight baking. I let the dough chill overnight so all I had to do the next day was cut it up and bake.
The end result is a slightly sandy chocolatey cookie flecked with salt. The fleur de sel was perfect and rounded out the flavour. I still haven’t been converted to a shortbread or sable lover, but I wouldn’t pass on this cookie if it was there. It’s a great recipe to make when you want something fairly easy that’s sure to be a winner with others.
What started out as a way to give a little something to my very large family as a broke student has turned into a tradition. I churn out hundreds of cookies this time of year and give everyone an assortment of cookies. Judging by everyone’s joy seeing the bags of cookies waiting to be handed out, I think these are more appreciated than if I went and got store bought gifts.
Here’s what I made:
Chocolate chip – I make these every year and I swear every time I make them they turn out differently. These cookies are not very photogenic this year.
Ginger pennies – I made these once before and I wasn’t planning on bringing them back, but R kept talking about them so I made them again. These goodies are teeny tiny about the size of a penny (hence the name). Last time I made these, I put it in a sandwich bag that ended up exploding and just scooped up 1/8 teaspoon of dough. This time I used a freezer bag and piped them out. No explosions, much more enjoyable. My piping skills weren’t consistent so the size ranged from dime shaped to about the size of a quarter. This recipe makes a ton, at least 25 dozen. I ended up with 38 dozen…and ate 2 dozen in a sitting. Ginger pennies are different from gingerbread — these are tiny, thin, and chewy.
Sesame cookies – From Martha Stewart’s Cookies book. These are insanely delicious and repeat worthy. I love how grinding up the sesame seeds and adding it to the dough adds a nice flavour to it. The recipe says it yields 6 dozen, but I ended up a dozen short.
Snickerdoodles – From my neglected The Mixer Bible cookbook. I thought I made snickerdoodles before, but my cookbook database tells me otherwise. I’ve never had a snickerdoodle until today. Wow, so tasty! It’s just a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar but the outcome is so different. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside when you take a bite. If you accidentally bake it longer it goes crunchy all the way through. Win-win in my opinion.
Shortbread – I don’t like shortbread, but I know a lot of other people do including my grandmother. I always put shortbread in my cookie gifts because I know she likes it. I used Anna Olson’s recipe this year.
Pecan bars – I’ve been dying to make pecan bars so this was the perfect time. This is also from Martha Stewart’s Cookie book. I don’t think I like the honey for the syrup so I’ll have to try a different recipe next time.
On Sunday I had the opportunity to participate in a charity bake off. The theme was Escape from Toronto and I decided that my escape would be to Paris since it was my most recent trip. One of my favourite things in Paris was the salted butter caramel — even R was fond of it! I settled on lavender French butter cookies with a salted butter caramel buttercream. I never actually had this combo in Paris, but to see if lavender and caramel would work I googled it and found an Alice Medrich recipe for a lavender caramel sauce so my pairing wasn’t too out there. For the cookie, I used a recipe from Poilane as a base and decided to switch it up. I think this is my first cookie I’ve “created”.
I did a test run and while the lavender cookies only needed some very small tweaking, I ruined many batches of caramel before getting it right. I used the dry method of making caramel where no water is added. It’s best to not have the heat on too high or you’ll burn it. Be patient and let the caramel work its magic.
I’d still like to tweak the salted butter caramel recipe a little bit. I’d like the filling to be a bit more stiff so it doesn’t squish right out of the cookie.
There were so many delicious things at the bake off and I wish I could have tried more, but my stomach had problems coping with that much sugar.
At the bake off my sister’s friends were there, one whom I haven’t seen since my sister was in high school (so I was maybe 10 years old at the time?). They brought these amazing patties which was such a nice change from all the sweets in the room. I could have eaten 5 of these. And I will as the recipe is posted online.
Lavender French butter cookies with salted butter caramel buttercream (makes 24 2″ cookies)
190g of butter (13.5 Tablespoons) softened
50g (1/4 cup) of sugar granulated
50g (1/4 cup) of sugar superfine (I just ran it through a food processor)
1 teaspoon of lavender syrup (you can omit and add more lavender or make your own lavender simple syrup)
1.5 teaspoons of lavender, ground
1 large egg
2 (284 grams) cups of flour
Beat butter until smooth on low. Add sugar and blend into butter. Add egg and syrup.
Add flour and mix until it just incorporated. Add lavender and mix.
Divide dough in half and shape into a disk. Chill until firm.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface 1/4”. Cut out shapes and bake at 350F for 10-11 mins.
Salted butter caramel butter cream recipe (slightly adapted from here).
The instructions on how to make caramel using the dry method that saved my sanity here.
330g Whipping Cream (this is my translation the original recipe calls for Creme Fraiche Liquide)
1. Add about 50g of sugar to a saucepan, let this melt then add another 50g sugar and let this melt. Continue three times until all 200g of sugar has been incorporated and melted (can anyone tell me why its done in this way I have never heard of making caramel this way).
2. Let the syrup caramelize until it has turned a very dark amber. I let mine go very dark, but if you want a sweeter caramel, remove it from the heat earlier. And unless you want 3rd degree burns in your mouth, don’t try the caramel. It’s hot! Remove from the heat and add the 30g butter. Add the cream which will spatter and bubble and may seize up and harden but will melt in the next stage.
3. Put the pan back on the heat and cook until it reaches 108C on a candy thermometer. Pour into a dish and cover with plastic wrap to avoid it developing a skin. Let this cool, until about room temperature.
4. Beat the remaining butter for 8 to 10 minutes and then incorporate the caramel in 2 additions. Add salt and mix until blended in.
I had a very nice woman come up to me later in the night who let me know that she liked my cookies and was surprised at the flavour. This made me happy to hear my cookies weren’t too crazy OR too boring.
Also much thanks to Sarah who mentioned my cookies in her post. She did a fabulous write up of the event! BlogTO also did a write up here