Hi there! Grab a cup of coffee and sit down with me for a bit! My name is Kelli and I run the blog Confections + Coffee! I am excited and honored to be a part of the holiday season guest posting for Just Us Four. I hope you enjoy these delicious bite sized treats! They were made with you busy bakers in mind! Enjoy!
It's the holiday season and you know what that means, right? Peppermint! One of the only times of the year where peppermint is totally acceptable in every dessert you make!
Do you have a favorite peppermint candy? I love those soft peppermint sticks, I could eat a whole bag of them! As a matter of fact, I do almost every time I buy them, so I usually buy two bags. :)
So it's two days before Christmas and you have very little time to make a dessert for that gathering you kind of maybe forgot about. Oops! I've been there done that, which is actually how I developed these cookie balls! You can thank me later. :)
Anyways, back to the sweets. I ran across Peppermint Oreo Cookies at a grocery store. I don't know where you live, but where I live, our Wal-Mart's don't have those cool seasonal Oreos. It's so weird! I was so excited I just had to have them even though I don't eat Oreos. Yeah, I know, I'm weird.
I knew that I immediately wanted to make cookie balls. A chocolatey, creamy, pepperminty cookie ball coated in chocolate and topped with peppermint crunch just sounded perfect to me. This recipe is so easy, too! There is no baking at all. All the prepping is done in a food processor, then you chill the cookie balls for 10 minutes, the you coat them twice, top with peppermint crunch, and you're done! Easy peasy!
I was in such a holiday mood that I made tons of chocolate covered things. I'll be posting a couple more recipes that are great for holiday parties soon! Like those awesome chocolate covered pretzels with toppings and a chocolate covered ritz peanut butter cracker sandwich. Those are a holiday tradition in my home!
Have you ever had a brookie? A brookie is a brownie + cookie. I will admit (please do not ostracize me) that I am not a chocolate dessert fan. I've tried recipes and had recipes that were chocolate this or chocolate that and they were just horrible. Bland, not chocolatey enough, dry, bleck. Who wants a dry un-chocolatey cookie? Or cake? Oh it just makes me shiver.
That's why if you look through my blog there may be a whopping 3 or 4 chocolate based recipes. Because I don't want to give you guys a horrible chocolate-based recipe. I would feel so bad.
But my hope has been restored with a recipe that includes THREE different kinds of chocolate to make the most perfect fudge-y, dense, and chewy brookie I have ever encountered. You will not regret making this wonderful recipe. You won't, I promise!
Yes, you read right, this has three kinds of chocolate in the brookie dough. First, you'll whisk together your dry ingredients that includes flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. You are going to add your typical cookie ingredients such as butter, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Next, you'll add a generous amount of melted chocolate. Are you ready? After that you'll add another batch of chocolate chips.
Are you already in your kitchen looking for your chocolate? I won't be upset if you are.
After you bake the cookies, you'll let them cool and whip up this amazing butter cream. It's light and fluffy and perfect with the brookie. Let me know how fast these go!
I never thought I would ever get around to making candies in my kitchen, but this year I decided that it was a personal goal I wanted to take on.
I love caramels, but I was always so hesitant to try making them at home because the recipes all use a candy thermometer. I always thought to myself, "gosh, if I try using one of those I'd probably burn the house down." Don't ask me where that thought came from, it just popped into my head.
Anyways, I finally found a recipe online and decided to give it a whirl. I split this recipe in half and omitted the vanilla and I found these caramels to be amazing. It also made a billion caramels. I'm only partially joking, because it made a ton. A. Ton.
My iPad will not allow me to link the recipe, but I found the original post on Tatses Better From Scratch (search: homemade caramels).
I do have a few tips for making caramels from my experience that others might not warn you about or that you might over look.
1) Stir, stir, stir. - If you're anything like me, you like to just let things simmer and go about doing other stuff around the house. Well, don't. Not with this recipe. You need to be alert and at the ready at all times, and stirring will keep the caramel from getting too brown at the bottom of the pot.
2) Wrappers - If you need wrappers, try your luck at pre-planning and finding some cute ones online. Otherwise, I would pre-cut your wrappers so you don't have to do it while you're cutting your caramel. I successfully wrapped mine in wax paper that was about 3" wide and 2" tall, I would place the caramel in the center of that wax paper piece, then fold the 2" side over the candy and twist the 3" sides to close it. I hope that makes sense. If not, practice makes perfect. :)
3) Cutting the caramel - This part isn't hard. You chill the caramel for a bit then you take it out and cut it. I would recommend something short like a flat-edged metal spatula rather than a knife because you'll be pouring these caramels into a lipped cookie sheet and the knife can't really get in the sides. Also, the metal spatula will be perfect for scooping them out, too!
4) Candy Thermometer - Yes, there are some people out there that can tell when caramel is ready just by looking at it. That is super impressive; but for a newbie, I'd recommend getting a candy thermometer. They are about $6 at Walmart or you can check your local kitchen gadget shop for more kinds. I like the old school kind, not the digital. (Personal preference, but I know that my battery will never die, hah!)
These photos are gorgeous, oh my gosh. I love them! They are seriously some of my favorite photographs of food I've taken yet!
Alright, let's get started! Also, don't be discouraged if you mess up. This was my second attempt. My first was without a candy thermometer and I ended up having 6 cups of caramel syrup that I had to find uses for. It was still tasty though!
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 (12 oz can) evaporated milk
1) Butter a jelly roll pan and set aside. (Mine was approx. 15" x 11")
2) Add butter, sugar, and Karo syrup to a large heavy-bottomed sauce pot over medium heat. Attach the candy thermometer to the side, but do not let the tip touch the bottom of the pan. Stir the mixture over medium heat until it begins to boil, this could be anywhere from 5-15 minutes.
3) Once the mixture starts to boil, slowly add in the evaporated milk, making sure you allow the mixture to constantly boil.
4) Stire the mixture often, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot, until it reaches 240F on the candy thermometer. This could take anywhere from 20-45 minutes. Once the caramel reaches 240F, remove it from the heat.
5) Pour the caramel into the buttered pan. Refrigerate until the caramels are cooled and hard. This should take several hours or even overnight. Cut the caramel into small squares and wrap if desired.