Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Classic or Kitchen Fail

Last Thursday was my friend Drenda's annual cookie swap/ornament exchange. She's been doing this for at least a dozen years with the same group of women, many of which I only see at the cookie swap. You remember Drenda, don't you. The one whose holiday decorations I covet. 

Drenda has prizes for everyone, as well as parting gifts. But the big prize is that of  best cookie, so every year I search for something new. Something that's bound to win the hearts and taste buds of all who sample it. 

This year, I came across a whole series of cookie recipes that were based on popular candy bars. And let me tell you, narrowing down that decision was a chore. They all looked SO good.

Finally, I settled on a recipe called Gold Bars and they're based on a Twix candy bar.
Be still my heart.

For this recipe, you're going to need:
  • ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •  ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 9 oz. package soft caramel candies
  • ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup half and half, divided
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup milk chocolate bits

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Then line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
I do not own a 9x9 baking dish. I have an 8x8 and 9x13, so I decided to double the recipe and use the bigger dish. The measurements shown above are for a single batch, though.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and baking powder until fluffy and light.

Add flour and mix just until dough comes together.

Press dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick all over the crust with a fork.
By the way, this cookie crust is quite tasty all by itself. :)

Now you're going to bake that for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt caramels with sweetened condensed milk and ¼ cup of the half and half, stirring continuously. 
I recommend unwrapping all of your caramels before starting this recipe. I didn't, so my crust was done well before my caramel mixture.

When mixture is melted and smooth, remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup half and half. While whisking, pour the yolks into the melted caramel and whisk to blend. (Sorry, I forgot to take a pic)

When the crust is baked...

Pour caramel mixture over crust, then return pan to oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until set. I forgot to take a pic here, too. Did I mention that I was on the phone with our internet service provider this entire time? We switched servers for our internet, television and home phone back in June and yet our home phone still did not work. Naturally, the day I had a bazillion things to do is when they decided to jump on it. Talk about frustrating. However, I am happy to say that our home phone is finally working again.

Once your caramel has set, remove from oven and gently sprinkle milk chocolate bits over the top and allow them to melt.
For the life of me, I could not find milk chocolate BITS. I found Heath Toffee Bits and other BITS, but not what I was looking for. So I used these...
And chopped them up before sprinkling. 

Still, it was a challenge when it came to spreading.
Use an offset spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate over the surface of the caramel, taking care to not disturb the caramel layer.
As you can see, I obviously did not use enough care because I managed to disturb the caramel. 
But at least it was along the edges. Besides, I'd be cutting these into bars, so I could easily leave off the less attractive parts. Or just eat them myself. 

Which I did. Me, the one who's cut sugar from her diet.


Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and cutting into small bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Just look at those layers. The crispy cookie crust, the decadent caramel, the chocolate...

They were SO good.

But no, I did not win the coveted Best Cookie prize. However, I may have received something better. 

The stamp of approval from my family. Although, my youngest son did feel the need to point out that, while it was still good, it did not taste like a Twix.

Now that the cookie swap is over, it's on to more baking and candy making. Peanut clusters are in the freezer and I have got to get hopping on my peanut butter balls, aka chestnuts. Then I'll start on the cookies that freeze well before sprinting on to the finish right before Christmas. 

It's a baker's dream.

What's baking this week at your house?


  1. OOO, I'm going to our annual cookie swap next week and I think I'll bring these!

    1. I can't wait to hear what you/they think about them, Virginia!

  2. These are winners in my book.

    I am not baking.
    I am not cooking.
    See Seekerville today. I am living vicariously through you folks.

    1. Hey, living vicariously through others can be fun, Tina. No condemnation here. Just sit back and enjoy. ;)

  3. Yum. I love trying new things and eating the parts that don't quite work out! Tis the season!

    1. Yes, sometimes those are the best parts, Julie.

      What I'm about to say isn't something that didn't work out, but it came to mind when I read your comment. We always make the fudge with marshmallow cream, but one of my favorite parts of making it is when I drizzle some of the butter/sugar/evap. milk mixture into cold water to see if it forms a soft ball. Man, oh, man...that soft ball is the yummiest thing I've ever tasted. :D

  4. Yum -- these look divine and I'm excited because they look like a recipe I used to make which I got from a Scottish friend while living in Ireland. She was my roomie. Anyway, I called it Scottish shortbread in honour of Doreen but I never knew the real name. I lost the recipe and I could never find one...but this looks pretty much the same so I'm super jazzed. I'll make a batch and tell you if they taste like the recipe I remember.

    I made cranberry oatbars yesterday. Debating between gingerbread cookies or lemon poppyseed. If I can get some poppyseeds when I'm out at a doctor's appointment, I'll make the lemon poppyseed. They are a lot of work but once you make them, you can freeze the dough and just slice a few to bake whenever you want.

    Talking about freezing cookies. I'm thinking shortbread can't be frozen, am I right? Anyone know?

    1. Cranberry oat bars sound yummy, Kav!

      You know, I doubt shortbread would freeze well. It seems it would take on moisture and lose its crispness. But it would probably still taste good and buttery. :)

    2. I love shortbread, Kav. Which is probably why I liked the crust on this recipe. Not sure about freezing it, though.

      I'm with Missy. Cranberry oat bars sounds yummy. Perhaps you should send some our way. ;)

      Are you enjoying your baking?

  5. I'm still laughing at your disturbing the caramel!! :)

    These look so good!! I love anything with cream and caramel and chocolate! The three C's.

    No baking so far. But I need to bake a birthday cake for my college son who'll be done with finals and is coming home the day after his birthday!

    1. Yes, Missy, that cake is a must! When is his birthday? I have one with a birthday tomorrow. She'll be 29, which is so totally wrong since I'm only 39. I told her that for the next year no one will believe her when she tells them how old she is. :D

  6. Hmm...I just noticed that I have different fonts in my post. Not sure how that happened. Well, you know what they say... Variety is the spice of life. ;)

  7. so what won?!
    wonder if I can justify a fancy mixer just to make these?! ha don't guess I can sigh...

    1. You know, Susanna, I don't think I heard what cookie won. I just know it wasn't mine. :( Coconut seemed to be plentiful this year. Several offerings had coconut in them.

    2. well it must've been some stiff competition (or rigged LOL!) if chocolate, caramel, and sweetened condensed milk didn't win... you need to make my aunt's date nut balls I posted last year...I never did get it down (got too hot to add the beaten egg) but those are good - and have coconut though someone brought them to Bible study last week and hers were rolled in powdered sugar instead..

  8. I have been baking.

    I IGNORED Myra's post in Seekerville, until I got to the last line that gave me permission to have fun and bake and string lights and make merry!!!! :)

    I have two shelves in the freezer stacked with cooked cookies and dough, waiting to bake. Me and the little un's have been having fun!!!!!

    I want the decorations because they're clever, cute, not hard and the only thing I'm good at is stringing a lot of twinkle lights.

    But I love twinkle lights!!!! :) Mindy, how did you get these to cut so well?

    And honestly, for this one thing, we could just buy TWIX, right? But I love trying new things, too!!!! Mindy, I missed you last week, I was caught in day job and edits, but I'm so glad I got over here today!!! I love this!!!

    1. Ruthy, I love twinkle lights, too. Can never have enough of them.

      Why buy a Twix when you can make them? I'd Mia eating the crust dough. Yum.

      As for cutting them, it was easy. Since the pan was lined with parchment, I just lifted the whole thing out of the pan once it cooled. It did run over the parchment in a coup,e of spots, so I simply ran a knife around the edge. Once it was out, I cut it with my big chefs knife. Easy peasy.

      Sounds like you've been having lots of fun in upstate, getting those kids in the Christmas spirit.