Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caramel Drizzled Apple Cider Cookies

 As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it. Right off the bat, they had me at caramel, but more than that, I wanted to try it because I had never heard of it! As much as I love all the favorite classic cookie recipes, I'm always up for trying new ones! So here we go. I found this recipe on a blog called Under the Table and Dreaming, whose author found it on another blog called Scrambled Henfruit, whose author slightly adapted it from a recipe on another blog called The Cooking Photographer. It kinda makes me wonder how many other blogs this recipe will find after this one!!! Don't you just love technology? LOL

  Ok, so, here's the thing...the original recipe was not for cookies drizzled with caramel...it was for cookies STUFFED with caramel. Yummy, right? Well, here's what I found...
 When you make them, you put a caramel in the center of a ball of cookie dough and bake. Then you remove them from your parchment and turn them upside down to cool, giving the caramel time to set (otherwise the caramel oozes out from the bottom of the cookie). That's fine, but it seemed to me it would be much easier to just bake the cookies without the caramel, let them cool, and then drizzle with melted caramel. It's much easier, must faster, and every bite gets a little bit of the caramel instead of just the center. Plus, you don't have to worry about the upside down cooling, etc. You do have to let them sit until the caramel sets, but I think this is the lesser of two evils. To melt the caramels, just unwrap them, place them in a bowl with a couple tbs of milk or cream, then microwave 30 seconds at a time until they're melted, then whisk it all together.
 I've posted the original directions as I first read them, just in case you'd like to do the stuffed cookies, or you can do them as I've stated above. The only down side to the drizzling is that the caramel stays kinda gooey. So, you'd have to store them in layers with parchment in between, but seriously, I'm thinking gooey caramel isn't the worst thing in the world! 
  Whichever way you make them, they're still amazingly delicious and fun and new and you'll still love them!
 3 cups all purpose flour
 1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets (Find this in your grocery store near the hot chocolate mixes.)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bag Kraft Caramels (14 oz)

 Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment!) 
In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside. With your mixer (or an energetic spoon) cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined. Refrigerate for about an hour. (If you're really impatient you don't have to do this, but it makes it so much easier to work with.) When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels. Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off. 

You definitely need to let these sit for a couple minutes before removing them from the pan because the caramel needs time to set. If you're drizzling instead of stuffing, be sure to let them cool completely before drizzling, then let them sit out for a good long while until the caramel sets.
For an extra added little something, add about a teaspoon of kosher salt to your melted caramel.  
You could also leave the caramel out of the picture altogether and sandwich some vanilla ice cream in between the plain apple cider cookies. It tastes like apple pie a la mode in the form of a cookie!!
Instead of using parchment paper, I used a silpat, which is a silicone baking mat the fits right into a half sheet tray. Nothing sticks to it!!

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