THE BEST COOKIES & BARS RECIPES FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
CHOCOLATY CARAMEL THUMBPRINT
1/2 -cup butter, softened
2/3 -cup sugar
2 -tablespoons milk
1 -teaspoon vanilla
1- cup all-purpose flour
1/3- cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼- teaspoon salt
16 -vanilla caramels, unwrapped
3- tablespoons whipping cream
1-1/4 -cups finely chopped pecans
1/2 -cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces
Separate egg; place yolk and white in separate bowls. Cover and chill egg white until needed. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat well. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.
In another bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined. Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small saucepan heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Slightly beat reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in egg white, then in pecans to coat. Place balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are firm. If cookie centers puff during baking, repress with your thumb. Spoon melted caramel mixture into indentations of cookies. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool. (If necessary, reheat caramel mixture to keep it spoonable.)
In another saucepan heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. Drizzle chocolate mixture over tops of cookies.* Let stand until chocolate is set. Makes 36 cookies.
Tip: If desired, transfer the warm chocolate mixture to a resealable plastic bag. Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag. Drizzle cookies with chocolate mixture.
MIXED NUT BARS
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 -cup butter
1 -package 2-layer-size yellow cake mix
4 -eggs, lightly beaten
1- cup packed brown sugar
1/2 -cup light-color corn syrup
1/3 -cup butter, melted
1 -teaspoon vanilla
1/2 -teaspoon ground cinnamon
2- cups mixed nuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the pan edges. Coat foil with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, use a pastry blender to cut 1/2 cup butter into cake mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned and set.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, the 1/3 cup melted butter, vanilla, and cinnamon; whisk to combine. Stir in mixed nuts. Pour nut mixture over warm crust. Bake about 30 minutes more or until bubbly around the edges and golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut bars out of the pan. Cut into bars. Makes 32 bars.
To Store: Layer bars between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
POTATO CHIP CRISPY COOKIES
3/4 -cup butter, softened
1/2 -cup sugar
1/4 -teaspoon salt
1 -teaspoon vanilla
2 -cups all-purpose flour
1 -teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
1/2 -cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1/3 -cup finely chopped candied cherries or diced candied fruits and peels
1 -cup crushed potato chips (about 3 cups uncrushed)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in orange peel, chocolate pieces, and candied fruits and peels.
Shape dough into 1-1/2-inch balls. Roll balls in crushed potato chips. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten balls until they are about 21/2 inches in diameter.
Bake in the preheated oven about 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Makes 18 cookies.
To Store: Place cookies in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months
CHOCOLATY PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH COOKIES
A classic flavor pairing -- chocolate and peanut butter -- comes together to make these irresistible cookies. A dusting of coarse sugar adds a festive touch.
1 -18-ounce package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
1/3 -cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1- cup peanut butter pieces
3 -tablespoons coarse sugar
1 -3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
½- cup peanut butter
1 -tablespoon honey
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together cookie dough, cocoa powder,and peanut butter pieces until combined. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Roll balls in coarse sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten cookies to about 1/4 inch thick.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Meanwhile, for filling, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, and honey. Spread filling on bottoms of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, bottom sides down. Makes about 25 cookie sandwiches.
TO STORE: Layer assembled cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Recipes adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.