Tuesday, December 2, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 2: Holiday Caramel Treats

Day 2: Holiday Caramel Treats
There are two things I love about these "cookies" and what makes them suitable for the holidays. First, they're just cute to look at. In a sea of desserts, they stand out both because of the rounded toothpick speared through each one and because they can be garnished as cheerily as you wish, either with red and green sprinkles or, as I prefer, with chopped toasted almonds.
Second, the round cookie balls are easy and quick to make, always a good thing during the holidays when you're likely pressed for time. And lastly (okay, make that three things), if you have little helpers or even big helpers, this can be a multi-person baking project you can all share in and that's part of the fun of the holidays, right? Not just eating the final product but the memories you make in making them together. One person can make the dough, multiple people can roll into balls and the same helpers can spear the toothpicks in, dip into melted caramel and roll in sprinkles or nuts. I originally blogged about these here so please check that post for my original notes. Otherwise, here's the recipe - enjoy.

¾ cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon liquid maple flavor or almond extract
Dash of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
48 round wooden toothpicks

36 caramels, unwrapped
¼ cup milk
1 cup finely chopped peanuts, walnuts or almonds

1.   Heat oven to 350⁰F.  Have baking sheets ready.
2.   To make cookies, beat butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy.  Beat in egg, vanilla, maple flavor and salt.  On low speed, gradually beat in flour.  Form dough into forty-eight balls, about 1 inch in diameter.  Place 1 ½” apart on baking sheets.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes until balls are set, but not browned (tops may crack slightly).  Insert a toothpick into center of each.  Cool on wire racks.
3.   To make coating, melt caramels in milk, stirring often.  Keep warm over a pan of hot, not boiling water.  Dip each cookie into the caramel mixture, coating completely and drawing bottom of cookie across edge of pan to remove excess caramel.  Dip bottom of each in chopped nuts.  Place on sheet of wax paper to set.  Store loosely covered; best served within 24 hours.

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