Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Contests and Cousins

When you write a cookbook, you often wonder who is making your recipes, which ones they are choosing, how much they are enjoying them, and what have you. I love getting emails from fans and it is even better when they send pictures (Hint, Hint). Well, it takes the cake when you get an email, pictures AND it's from family! Unbeknownst to me, my cousin Mindy Ruby, who lives outside of Chicago, was quite a busy baker last week. The first I heard of it, she Facebooked me and mentioned that she had made some of my cookies and entered a contest. I had no idea which cookies, but I wished her good luck.

Next thing I know, she announces on Facebook that she's won! Well, you can imagine that a flurry of emails immediately went back and forth. I had to know which cookies she baked, info about her competition, all the details. First of all, LOOK at these fabulous, chocolate chip packed turtle cookies, made by my cousin Mindy.

Here she is, looking as proud as she should! Mindy, well done!

Mindy says it is a bunch of Moms whose kids went to school together. They have been holding the contest for seven years! She won for Best Tasting and Best Appearance. She did Not win the Best Disaster in the Kitchen, which is one of the categories. Phew! They all bring 5 dozen cookies, drink champagne, enjoy appetizers and everyone goes home with an assortment of all the various cookies. My kind of party.

Here are the competitors, by looks alone....well....I am a bit biased:)

And the recipe. Enjoy. It is from A Baker's Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies. Perfect for making this Xmas holiday with the kids home from school. It is one of those very tactile, project-y recipes that kids love to make.

Caramel Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Dough freezes well
Fun to make with kids

Type: Drop cookie

Description: These combine chocolate chip cookies with whole pecans, a layer of caramel and a bit of chocolate on top.

Field Notes: These look like little turtles, if you use your imagination! They are a take-off of caramel/chocolate/pecan turtle candies, but these incorporate chocolate chip cookie dough into the mix. Kids love to eat and to help make them.

45 square Kraft caramels
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate morsels
3 2/3 cups pecans halves (you need 225 pecan halves; 5 per turtle)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons shortening

1. Unwrap each caramel (they are about 1-inch square and come individually wrapped) and press flat into a round shape to about 2-inches across using your fingers. You want to end up with a 2-inch flat circle about 1/4-inch thick; set aside.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.

3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and brown sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice; beat in vanilla, then beat in eggs. Add about one-third of flour mixture and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Stir in morsels. Chill dough for at least 2 hours or overnight. (You may freeze dough up to 1 month; defrost in refrigerator overnight before proceeding).

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Drop dough by generously rounded tablespoon 3 inches apart on cookie sheets. Press 5 pecan halves into each cookie mound so that about one-quarter of each nut is embedded in the cookie. You want to situate them so that they look like a head and four feet; the rounded side should face up and they should be flat on the sheet (see photograph). Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges and tops have just begun to turn light golden brown. Center a caramel circle on top each cookie and return to oven for about 4 minutes, or until cookie is golden brown and caramel has softened, but not melted, and is now part of the cookie (it should be attached and almost melted onto it).

6. Place sheets on racks to cool cookies completely. Melt chocolate and shortening in top of double boiler or in microwave and stir until smooth. Pour into parchment cone; this is a lot of chocolate, so you will probably need to use a few cones. Snip a tiny opening and decorate the tops of the turtles. You can make spirals, cross-hatch patterns, zig-zags, etc. Place sheets in refrigerator to firm up chocolate before storing.

Lifespan: 4 days at room temperature in airtight container in single layers separated by waxed (or parchment) paper

Yield: 45 turtles

Good Cookie Tip: Make sure your pecan halves are intact and not chipped, slivered or broken. “Whole” pecan halves will make the best “feet” and “heads”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love turtles - the animal and the candy! These are so cute!!! Thank you!