Saturday, December 6, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 4: Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Day 4: Chocolate Turtle Cookies from Pixelated Crumb
I love these cookies. They're cute, chocolate, caramel and delicious. They're also perfect for the holidays because you can make the dough ahead of time, portion into dough balls, roll in toasted pecans or almonds (your choice), shape with the "thumbprint" indent in the middle and freeze until you're ready to bake them. Then while they're baking, you can make the caramel, fill the indents when the cookies come out, let cool and package them up or set them out if they're for a party.
During the busy holiday season, I typically focus on timesavers. I don't have long stretches of free time to bake as much as I need to bake but I break up the steps, do as much advance cookie dough making as I need whenever I can snatch pockets of time (15-20 minutes here and there) then bake cookies off at the last minute right before I need them, typically 20-30 minutes or so, depending on how much I'm baking. Easy. Plus, these are cute and little, perfect for a cookie swap, dessert party, and/or cookie plate for giving away. And look at that caramel. This is one of those cookies I have to give away immediately so I don't eat more than one. Maybe two.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped fine 
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream
  1. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
  2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg whites in bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using 1/2-teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball. Bake until set, about 12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
  3. Microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently re-press existing indentations. Fill each with 1/2 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

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