Random Recipe: Salted Caramel Coconut Cookies

I was a Girl Scout who loved selling Girl Scout Cookies. I think that was the reason I stayed involved so long. It was the competition, trying to surpass my goal from the year before, and the adrenaline of it all. At the time I hated Samoas, mostly because I did not like coconut. I have always had food texture issues, and something about the texture of coconut grossed me out. Until about five years ago. Somehow as I changed the types of foods I ate to become healthier I found coconut in its purest form (not mixed with chocolate and caramel). I fell in love with coconut and eventually added chocolate and coconut and now love Samoas.

These quasi cookies / slight macaroons would not have been something I would have eaten as a child. I would have been missing out. What is not to love about coconut and salted caramel? These are pretty easy to make and hit the spot, plus the added flake salt makes them even better. Definitely worth trying. Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Coconut Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies

1 1/5 sticks unsalted softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large beaten egg
6 oz sweetened flaked coconut
7 oz soft caramel candies (soft!)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together butter and sugar with a mixer. Then beat in the vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the flour and beat until combined.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls with your hands.

Beat eggs in a small bowl. Put the coconut in another small bowl. Dip each ball first in the egg, then roll in the coconut.

Place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press an indentation into each ball with your finger. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and re-press the indentations. Place the cookies back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until the cookies and coconut are golden.

Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Unwrap the caramels and place in saucepan with heavy cream over low heat. Stir until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Spoon the caramel sauce into the cookie indentations. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Random Recipe: Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I have had a favorite cookie recipe for years. Nothing compared to it. Until this week. This past year Chris and I have found that we tended to gravitate towards chocolate chip cookies with flake salt on top. Anytime we are at a bakery that is what we order.

Over the weekend I decided it was time to find and make a recipe to have them at home — that and I keep having these nesting urges to bake. This is a must make recipe. It is really no different to make than any other chocolate chip cookie recipe. One thing that is always important to me is what they taste like a few days later. Often I find I only like cookies right out of the oven and they taste differently the next day or a few days later. Not these cookies. Chris will have to fight me for these — he usually gets what is left after day one.

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Heath Bar Bits

Makes about 18 to 24 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) [If you do not have any use brown sugar.]
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate cut into 1/2″ chunks with a knife
1/4 cup heath bar bits
Flaky sea salt to top cookie dough

Heat oven to 360°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with a mixer for about 5 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Mix in salt and baking soda until combined. Add flour until just mixed. With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chunks and heath bar bits.

Form cookies into 1 1/2 tablespoon sized mounds and add to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden on the outside but still very soft inside. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. So good!

Random recipe: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Lately (maybe it is the pregnancy) I have been craving pasta. I might need more carbs as this baby grows inside me. This week we decided we would try a new pasta option. We are both for the most part fans of butternut squash. This dish felt on the heavier side, a thicker sauce, and maybe it is my desire these days for everything to have salt, but I wanted to add flake salt before eating. Definitely worth trying and fairly easy to make. But what do I know? Chris is the chef.

 

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

1 pound of pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons milk (or more if needed)
10 oz pureed butternut squash (we cheated and bought frozen)
1 cup of Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
A few tablespoons of roughly chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot to a boil over medium-high heat and dump in your pasta. Cook accordingly.

While pasta is boiling, add chopped shallot and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Saute about three minutes or until nice and tender. Add in one more drizzle of olive oil. Next, whisk in your flour and cook for about a minute. Then, whisk in your milk. Whisk everything together and then add in the pureed squash. Continue whisking over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens. Whisk in shredded Cheddar and grated Parmesan cheese along with the thyme. Add more milk if it gets too thick and keep whisking!

Drain the water from your cooked pasta and pour the squash mixture over the top of the pasta. Serve immediately. Garnish with extra Parmesan and thyme if you’d like.

Your family will love it…butternut squash and all.

Random recipe: Ned Ludd’s Skillet Cookie

As a kid going out to pizza was a big deal in my house. Usually the luxury was bestowed upon us by my grandma. She treated us when we were at her house and she did not want to cook, or when we begged her for pizza. I was more a fan of thick crust pizza, but when my sister, grandma, and I were together, they usually beat my choice which meant we had Pizza King. Known for their thin crust Pizza (and locations only in Indiana), it was the default quick and easy meal, and a luxury to us kids. The pizza was fine to me (although I have craved it in the past few years) but my favorites were the breadsticks, and if I was very lucky the massive chocolate chip cookie. It was the size of an 8 or 10 inch pizza.

Since Chris loves cookies of most kinds (sans snickerdoodles and sugar cookies) I am always on the lookout for a new cookie recipe. This one was a bit different as it is one big cookie in a skillet (just like my childhood Pizza King cookie, only much thicker).

Before

Before

Ned Ludd’s Skillet Cookie
(Published in Portland Monthly Magazine, December 2014)

1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup 75-percent cacao dark chocolate wafers
Flake salt for finishing
10-inch cast-iron skillet

MAKE THE DOUGH
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl whisk together flour and baking soda, and set aside. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, salt, and vanilla extract, and continue beating until combined. Add flour-soda combo mix until just incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate wafers.

After

After

BAKE THE COOKIE
Flatten the dough inside a 10-inch skillet. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the center is just set. To simulate Ned Ludd’s blackened, bitter crust, turn the broiler on and cook a minute or two longer, taking care not to burn the top completely. Remove from oven and sprinkle with flake salt. Serve with a small glass of milk, or pour milk right over the top while the cookie’s still hot and watch it sizzle.

Makes one 10-inch cookie.

It is delicious. If you like a crispy thin cookie this will not be your thing, but if you like a crispy outside and soft, almost cake-like inside this just might hit the spot. We ate it for a few days, and I have to say that warming it and pouring the milk, half and half, or heavy cream on top is a must. There is something about the cookie with the flake salt, and the cold cream mixture that makes a mouthful of flavors.