Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Caramel-Dipped Hazelnut Meltaway #Christmas #Cookies from Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Mysteries



Do you bake cookies for the holidays? Baking cookies is one of my longstanding joys. As a girl, I was my beloved Aunt Mary's little assistant, helping her fill gift trays (and decorated coffee cans) with Italian cookies, including Anginetti and Angel Wings, aka "Bow Tie" cookies. If you'd like those recipes, simply click the images below...


Click here for the recipe.

Click here for the recipe.

As for today's festive cookie recipe, readers may remember it from the culinary mystery series that I write with my husband. 

Caramel and hazelnut are among the most popular flavors for coffeehouse lattes, which is why we included a version of this recipe in our 14th Coffeehouse Mystery, Once Upon a Grind. To learn more about the book and the other recipes included in it, click here or on the image below. 








Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

A Recipe Note from Cleo

These cookies make a great visual impression on holiday and dessert trays, yet they're relatively easy to make--no rolling pin or special decorating skills required. They're worth making, too, because they're so delicious, marrying the buttery tenderness of meltaway shortbread with the creamy sweetness of caramel and the crunchy earthiness of hazelnuts. 

Note for those worried about nut allergies, there are no nuts in the cookies themselves, so you can adapt the recipe, finishing some with nuts and others with colorful sprinkles for dessert trays.

By the way, if hazelnuts are not available, no worries there, either. Try finely chopped walnuts or pecans. Either will give you that lovely crunchy, nutty finish to a cookie you’re sure to…eat with joy!

~ Cleo

To download this recipe 
in a free PDF that you can 
print, save, or share, click here.

Click for the Free Recipe PDF.

Cleo Coyle's
Caramel-Dipped Hazelnut
Meltaway Cookies 


Makes about 3 dozen cookies (depending on thickness)

For the Cookies: 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg yolk (use a large egg)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon into cup and level off)

For the Dipping:

50 soft caramels or 2 cups Caramel Bits
2 tablespoons nut milk or half-and-half
1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts or pecans)

Cleo’s Nutty Tips: If using raw, whole hazelnuts, be sure to remove the bitter brown skins. See directions on how at the end of this recipe. As for chopping, use a nut grinder or place nuts into a resealable plastic bag and finely crush them with a mallet or rolling pin.

Step 1 – Make the dough: Using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter, powdered sugar, and brown sugar. Add egg yolk and blend until smooth. Add baking powder and salt and beat again until incorporated. Finally, measure the flour by spooning into your measuring cup and leveling it off (do not scoop, which will pack the flour and result in too much). Add the flour and mix on low speed until blended. Flour your hands and gather the dough together, knead it slightly to smooth and form it into a ball. 



Step 2 – Form log and chill: Turn the dough onto a parchment paper-covered surface and gently roll it into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in the parchment paper and then wrap that parchment paper in plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out. Chill the wrapped log in the fridge for at least 3 hours. This will harden up the log so that when you cut the cookies, they will keep their round shape. You can chill the log even longer, if you like, overnight or up to 2 days—just be sure that it's wrapped in plastic to prevent drying.




Step 3 – Slice and bake: Preheat the oven to 300° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the chilled dough log into cookies (between ¼ and ½ inch in thickness). Bake 15 to 25 minutes. Time will depend on your particular oven and the thickness of the cookies. When are they done? The centers should still be creamy but the bottom of the cookies should be golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the cookies to remain on the hot pan for 10 minutes. Do not remove cookies before then (cookies are fragile when warm).



Step 4 – Dip the cooled cookies in caramel and nuts: Place the finely chopped hazelnuts into a shallow bowl and set aside. Place the unwrapped caramel candies (or Caramel Bits) and nut milk (or half-and-half) in a non-stick saucepan. Continually stir over low heat until the candies melt. If the melted candies are still too thick for dipping, add a bit more milk or half-and-half, but be careful not to overly liquefy the caramel. When consistency is right, turn heat to low. 



Gently dip top edges of each cooled cookie into the saucepan of melted caramels, allowing excess caramel to drain off. Dip each cookie’s caramel edge into your bowl of chopped hazelnuts. Gently rest on a wax-paper-lined pan until set and...eat with joy!



FINAL NUTTY TIPS

HOW TO BLANCHE AND TOAST HAZELNUTS


There are a few methods for removing the skins from hazelnuts. This one is considered the best. For every 1 cup of raw hazelnuts (out of the sell), bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in 3 Tablespoons of baking soda, be careful, the water will bubble up. (Don’t leave out the baking soda, this is what helps break down the skins.) Add the hazelnuts & boil for 4 full minutes, stirring often. Drain nuts, pour them into a bowl of very cold water, and allow them to soak for 2 full minutes. Gently rub and roll the nuts between your open hands and the skins should fall off. A few stubborn nuts may require you to peel them individually (rinse under running water for ease). Rinse all peeled nuts clean, dry them off well with paper towels, and toast them in the oven for added flavor. To toast nuts, preheat oven to 350° F. Place whole nuts on a parchment lined cookie sheet and stir every five minutes until fragrant (10 to 15 minutes). Watch closely to prevent scorching. 




Happy Holidays, everyone!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author
of 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 


Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Salted Brownies










This recipe comes from The Coloring Crook. Florrie Fox likes to bake, so when her mom asks her to bring some goodies to a picnic, this is one of the treats Florrie makes. The picnic is at a starlight concert in a park. No spoilers here, so I'll just say that there are fireworks!

These remind me so much of my very favorite brownies. They're very soft and fudgy. People bite into them and all of a sudden they say, "I have salt!" To be perfectly honest, I much prefer them after they have been refrigerated. Oh yum! When I was trying out the recipe for the book, I made one batch that was a bomb, but that didn't stop a friend and I from eating them anyway!

I haven't provided a lot of photos today because, well, this is such an easy recipe. In fact, it's a great recipe if you're in hurry, need to make something easy, or need to bake it a day in advance.



Salted Brownies
1 8 x 8–inch baking pan

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter + extra for greasing pan
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour + extra for greasing pan
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Flaked sea salt like Maldon

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour the baking pan.

Melt the butter. (Krista does this in a glass Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave.) When melted, add the 1/4 cup chocolate chips and stir until they melt. Set aside.

Beat the eggs with the sugar until thick and cream-colored. Beat at least two to three minutes.

While they are beating, in a separate bowl, mix together the flour, 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, and the baking powder. Set aside.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the butter mixture to the eggs. (Hint: after adding flour, beat at a low speed.) When they are incorporated, add the vanilla. Beat well.

Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with two pinches of flaked sea salt. Holding a knife tilted at an angle, gently swirl the salt into the batter. Bake 25 minutes. The edges should look firm. The middle should be firm enough not to quiver when gently shaken. Place on baking rack to cool. (Hint: it’s easier to cut them while they are still slightly warm.)