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Salted Caramel Butter Bars

5 Feb

These things are SICK. I made them at Christmas time (along with homemade Oreos… more on those later) because (1) I love making me some dessert, and (2) my Dad is obstinate and doesn’t like chocolate. As my husband would say, you know who didn’t like chocolate? The Nazis. But they are seriously one of the most outrageously good things I have ever stuffed in my face. I found the recipe on a blog called cookies & cups, but I believe they come from the cookbook Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. I do believe I made need to get my hands on a copy if this is the kind of thing she dreams up. Because I dream of these things at night. So here is the recipe:

1. In a mixer, combine the following:

  • 1 lb. SALTED butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract

2. After the butter mixture is nice and creamy, sift in:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

3. In a greased 9 x 13 Pyrex or similar baking pan, take 1/3 of your dough out of the mixer and press it in the bottom of the pan. This is your crust. Put the remainder of the dough in the fridge to chill–I just took the metal bowl from the mixer and threw it in there. Bake the crust at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Take it out and cool it on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.

4. In a microwaveable bowl, combine:

  • 11 oz pack of Kraft caramel bits, plus about 5 unwrapped caramels (or 5o unwrapped caramels)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. coarse sea salt

5. Microwave the caramel mixture for 1 minute, then stir. Continue microwaving at 30 second intervals until the caramel is nice and smooth.

6. Pour the caramel mixture over the top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle on a little bit more sea salt if you are feeling dangerous.

7. Remove the remaining dough from the fridge and crumble evenly over the top of the caramel.

8. Bake the bars at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the shortbread is golden brown and the caramel is bubbly. Cool and cut into slices. Thank me later.


Animal Crackers

2 Sep

Dave and I are leaving bright and early in the morning to drive down to Kentucky Lake for a little min-vacation with some friends of Dave’s from high school. I thought I would be domestic today (being temporarily unemployed and all) and make some of my FAVORITE cookies to share on our trip.  I think I am also going to drop some off at my parents house as a welcome home surprise for them and my brother and sister, who have been vacationing in Glen Arbor, Michigan for the past week. I couldn’t go this year, so I am pretty jealous of all the beach-y fun they are having “Up North.” I am looking forward to our trip down South, though, and these cookies should make the seven hour drive go a little faster! For Christmas I picked out some super cute animal cracker cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma–the recipe is theirs. After baking the cookies I put them in some cellophane bags I had leftover from my Valentine’s cookies and tied them with a little green yarn (…pretty sure I won’t be learning to knit anytime soon).


  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. mace
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsps.) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Over a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and mace. Set to the side.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high-speed for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add sugar and beat for two minutes
  3. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for one minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low-speed until most of the flour is absorbed. Add the remaining flour and beat until all of it has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides.
  5. Turn the dough onto a work surface and divide into two balls. Shape each ball into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Roll out the dough to 1/8 of an inch thick on a floured work surface. Cut the dough with your cookie cutters and place them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Bake cookies for 12-13 minutes until the edges are slightly golden brown.

It’s Wednesday…

3 Feb

…which means I felt like baking valentine’s cookies! Just a couple of weeks early, but check out how cute! The inspiration for this bake-a-thon came from the conversation-heart cookies featured in this month’s  William’s-Sonoma catalog, and that inspiration became reality with the help of Annie over at Annie’s Eats, my new favorite food blog. She wrote a great post on decorating with royal icing… and although I certainly don’t have the practiced decorator’s hand that she does, it was a lot of fun. And messy. And I ended up eating too much cookie dough, and whichever cookies got broken in the process.

Chocolate Hearts with Frosting

However, I managed to make enough cookies to give as gifts to some people that I love.The cookie recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cookies (Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies, p. 75), and the topping is Royal Icing. Lots of excitement in the kitchen on this cold February day!

Little Sussies