Monday, August 17, 2015

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies

menumusings.com
 Okay y'all... I don't do this very often, but I totally just did NOT find a thing in the world to change about this amazing recipe.  Usually when I'm looking for a recipe for something delicious, I look for several of that genre, change them up to my liking, and come up with something completely new. This recipe for Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies from Gimme Some Oven was just too awesome to change!  So if you get the chance, hop over to Ali's page and show her some appreciation for them. So what will I show you?  Step-by-step of how to make them, of course.  

I mean, these cookies are the BOMB!  Dark, rich, and the perfect amount of not-too-sweet.  The flavors are very well balanced, which is super important to me.  The sea salt brings out the sweetness and yet contrasts it so well.  And you know what is amazing?  Several days after making them, they were still soft and chewy, not dried out and hard.  There are a few tips and tricks that I'd like to discuss as we go along, so... without further ado, let's get to making some cookies!  

menumusings.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla (the best you can find)
    • I use clear, Mexican vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • I used Hersheys
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1 (11 oz) bag Kraft caramel bits
    • You could also cut regular caramels into small cubes
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Step-by-Step:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

Cream together slightly softened butter, sugar, eggs (one at a time), and vanilla until light and fluffy.
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Stir to evenly combine, then stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended.

Mix the caramel and chocolate chips into the cookie batter.
**Some of the people that taste tested the cookie loved them "as is," and some felt the caramel bits were a bit too big and chewy.  You sort of need to know your audience.  You may want to consider chopping the caramel bits further into smaller pieces if your audience prefers less... chew.** 
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (I used my cookie scoop to get uniform sizing) onto prepared cookie sheets.  **These cookies are incredibly tender, not crisp.  So my recommendation to you is to use parchment paper so that they will just slide off. ** 
I recommend parchment paper over a greased cookie sheet.
The clean-up is also much better.  :)
Press each cookie down slightly to flatten.  I wet my fingers a little bit to keep the batter from sticking to my fingers.
Sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt. (or kosher salt)
This recipe made about 3 1/2 dozen cookies for me.  Bake for around 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until just set.  
Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets then on wire racks to cool completely.  (Or, I slid the parchment onto my cold granite countertops to further cool the cookies.) You need to allow them to cool completely before picking them up.  As I said, they are super tender. 
Someone MAY have taken a bite or two out of that one.  LOL!
menumusings.com

I hope you enjoyed this fabulous recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)
Here's just one example - High Class Shepherd's Pie (not your grandmother's!)


Here are some bonus recipes for you!










Written Method:  (This recipe made about 3 1/2 dozen cookies for me.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Cream together slightly softened butter, sugar, eggs (one at a time), and vanilla until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Stir to evenly combine, then stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended.  Mix the caramel and chocolate chips into the cookie batter.

**Some of the people that taste tested the cookie loved them "as is," and some felt the caramel bits were a bit too big and chewy.  You sort of need to know your audience.  You may want to consider chopping the caramel bits further into smaller pieces if your audience prefers less... chew.** 

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls (I used my cookie scoop to get uniform sizing) onto prepared cookie sheets.  **These cookies are incredibly tender, not crisp.  So my recommendation to you is to use parchment paper so that they will just slide off. ** 
Press each cookie down slightly to flatten.  I wet my fingers a little bit to keep the batter from sticking to my fingers. Sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt.

Bake for around 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until just set.  

Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets then on wire racks to cool completely.  (Or, I slid the parchment onto my cold granite countertops to further cool the cookies.) You need to allow them to cool completely before picking them up.  As I said, they are super tender. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fried Pimento Cheese Bites

Fried Pimento Cheese Bites @menumusings.com
I think we can all agree that pimento cheese, "the pâté of the South," is truly a Southern staple regardless of where it initially got its humble beginnings.  For you history buffs out there, some sources have linked this creamy spread all the way back to pre-World War I days in the New York area.  And I'm pretty sure that everyone on the planet knows that pimento cheese sandwiches at the Masters golf tournament each year are a huge tradition.  But just every now and then, there are a few of us who like to shake things up just a bit!   

You all know I have a love affair with cheese, right?  And taking that a step farther, melted cheese is simply something I've never been able to resist.  These little appetizers sandwiches are ooey gooey and rich, with a crunchy exterior, and just a bit of spice to them.  You can make up a tray of them ahead of time and have them waiting in the fridge for a cocktail party, then fry them up in like 2 minutes for a platter of passed hors d'oeuvres that will knock everyone's socks off!  Try them with your favorite homemade pimento cheese recipe, or buy some premade spread if you are in a time crunch.  


Ingredients:
These ingredients just expand to the amount of product you are making.
  • Pimento cheese spread
  • White bread
    • one of the few times it's allowed in our house
  • Hot and Spicy Cheez-It Baked Snack Crackers
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Oil for frying
  • Optional - ranch dressing for dipping 

Step-by-Step:
First things first. If you are making your own pimento cheese, my personal opinion is that it tastes best if you make it a day ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  That gives all the flavors time to marry together.  

Secondly, I know that you hardly EVER see me using sliced white bread, but this is the traditional way of serving pimento cheese, so that's how we are are gonna do this.  The white sandwich bread is also the most square in shape of all the sliced breads, and that is going to be important in this recipe.  

Alright.  Let's get to it!  Full disclosure, I didn't measure a thing, as you can see after the initial preparation of the pimento cheese spread.  I made that up on the preceding day.   You'll want to take it out and allow it to warm up enough to spread.   Next, cut the crusts off.  This gives us a pretty, square edge.  The crust also has a different texture and the crumbs won't adhere as well. 
Cut the sandwich into four small squares.  They may look small, but I assure you, they will be rich, so each is plenty big for an appetizer bite.  
We're gonna use these Hot and Spicy Cheez-It Baked Snack Crackers for the coating.  Don't worry, they aren't that spicy, but the little bit of extra kick does help balance out the richness of all the cheese.
Don't be mad at me, but here again, I didn't measure.  I just sort of made up a standard egg wash.  A couple of eggs and some milk.  I probably used maybe... 1/4 cup of milk?  **Feeling a little bit on the wild side?  Add an extra dash or two of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce to the egg batter to really get your party rocking! 
Get that all whisked together.  Meanwhile, you can sort of see in the background, I had kitchen elves helping me to crunch up the cheese crackers.  You can put them in a ziptop bag and have someone pound the with a skillet or rolling pin, or just crunch them by hand.  It doesn't matter.  You can even throw them in a food processor if you really don't want to get your hands messy.  But if you do have small kids around, they find this part a lot of fun.  
Okay, quickly dip the sandwich squares in the egg wash, then press to coat into the cracker crumbs. In the egg wash, don't leave them too long or it will be too soggy.  In the crumbs... really PRESS them into the bread.  
Now we have these pretty, golden cubes that we can either fry now or put into the fridge for frying later.
Fried Pimento Cheese Bites @menumusings.com
To fry, heat canola or peanut oil to 350 degrees F in a heavy pot.  Lower the sandwiches slowly into the oil and fry briefly - around 1 - 2 minutes until a coppery color, turning once in the oil.
Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
Fried Pimento Cheese Bites @menumusings.com
 Optional - serve with ranch dressing to dip in.
Fried Pimento Cheese Bites @menumusings.com

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order a copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook!  
Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)
Here's just one example - Sesame Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-Fry.  Yumm!

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Tomato Basil Chicken @ menumusings.com
Beefy Mexican Cornbread @menumusings.com
Ham Cups @menumusings.com
Creamy Italian Sausage and Tortellini @menumusings.com
Chicken Monterrey @menumusings.com
Individual White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding @menumusings.com
Written Method:

First things first. If you are making your own pimento cheese, my personal opinion is that it tastes best if you make it a day ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  That gives all the flavors time to marry together.  Secondly, I know that you hardly EVER see me using sliced white bread, but this is the traditional way of serving pimento cheese, so that's how we are are gonna do this.  The white sandwich bread is also the most square in shape of all the sliced breads, and that is going to be important in this recipe.  

Alright.  Full disclosure, I didn't measure a thing after the initial preparation of the pimento cheese spread.  I made that up on the preceding day.   You'll want to take it out and allow it to warm up enough to spread.   Next, cut the crusts off.  This gives us a pretty, square edge.  The crust also has a different texture and the crumbs won't adhere as well. Cut the sandwich into four small squares.  They may look small, but I assure you, they will be rich, so each is plenty big for an appetizer bite.  We're gonna use these Hot and Spicy Cheez-It Baked Snack Crackers for the coating.  Don't worry, they aren't that spicy, but the little bit of extra kick does help balance out the richness of all the cheese.

Don't be mad at me, but here again, I didn't measure.  I just sort of made up a standard egg wash.  A couple of eggs and some milk.  I probably used maybe... 1/4 cup of milk? **Feeling a little bit on the wild side?  Add an extra dash or two of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce to the egg batter to really get your party rocking! Get that all whisked together. Meanwhile, you can sort of see in the background, I had kitchen elves helping me to crunch up the cheese crackers.  You can put them in a ziptop bag and have someone pound the with a skillet or rolling pin, or just crunch them by hand.  It doesn't matter.  You can even throw them in a food processor if you really don't want to get your hands messy.  But if you do have small kids around, they find this part a lot of fun.   

Okay, quickly dip the sandwich squares in the egg wash, then press to coat into the cracker crumbs. In the egg wash, don't leave them too long or it will be too soggy.  In the crumbs... really PRESS them into the bread.  Now we have these pretty, golden cubes that we can either fry now or put into the fridge for frying later. 

To fry, heat canola or peanut oil to 350 degrees F in a heavy pot.  Lower the sandwiches slowly into the oil and fry briefly - around 1 - 2 minutes until a coppery color, turning once in the oil.  Drain on paper towels and serve hot.  Optional - serve with ranch dressing to dip in.  

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