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Kitchen Adventures: Baking with caramel for fall

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Food column by Becca Owsley

By Becca Owsley

The first day of fall finally arrives Sunday. The air is cooler, the sun shines in a goldish tint and the smell of apple cider fills the air.

With the arrival of fall, cooking with caramel and spices are a must and Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies fit the bill.

Just reading the description of this cookie gave me the warm fuzzy feeling of sipping a cup of warm cider.

While the cookies bake in the oven, the smell of the spices in the cider fill your home.

The cookie is good but there are a few notes to the preparation.

Heed the recipe author’s advice to chill the dough for an hour before baking. The dough can be gooey and while baking it can spread on a baking sheet instead of becoming tall and fluffy. When the cookie spreads, the caramel stays in the middle and isn’t what you first bite into. Allowing time to refrigerate the dough will result in a cookie that looks nicer and doesn’t bake as flat. It also makes sure the cookie surrounds the caramel.

Also, the cookie is best served warm. It still is good the next day but as the caramel cools inside the cookie it can be a bit chewy.

Because the caramel might seep out, parchment paper is great for baking this cookie.

A drizzle of caramel ice cream toping is something extra you can do for this cookie if served immediately. I don’t recommend melting the caramel squares used in the cookie to drizzle because it can become tough and chewy.

To continue the caramel theme, I also tried Twix Cookies.

This cookie is good but had a few complications. First, you make your own caramel to put on the cookie by making dulce de leche. It’s not a difficult step, but one you have to remember to count into your cookie making time. The dulce de leche takes and hour and a half to two hours to bake.

Also, as the cookies bake, the indention — which you will later fill with caramel — can disappear as the cookie spreads. I repressed the indention in the cookie while it was still warm and malleable.

For the final touch, drizzle milk chocolate over the cookie. I don’t have any advice for this step because my technique usually involves an impatience mess. The result is typically clumps of chocolate instead of a lovely drizzle, but it all tastes great in the end.

Both cookies are a great addition to fall baking treats.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270- 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7.4-ounce box spiced apple cider instant drink mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
14-ounce bag caramels

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and apple cider mix until fluffy for about three minutes.

Beat eggs, one at a time, and add with the vanilla to the butter mixture. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three portions, mixing each just until incorporated. 

To make forming your cookie a bit easier, refrigerate for about an hour. This step is not required, but recommended.

When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Begin by rolling about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough into a ball. A little more dough is better than less as the caramel will seep out the sides during baking. 

Then, flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. 

Press the caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place two inches apart on parchment-covered cookie sheets.

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. These are easy to overbake and the caramel will burn on the bottom. As soon as you notice the cookies are starting to lightly brown, remove them from the oven.

Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off the baking sheet right 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 them off the parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down. 

Recipe from www.inspiredbycharm.com.

Twix Cookies
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teapsoons salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk into a baking dish or pie plate. Cover with foil. Place in a larger rimmed pan and fill the larger pan with water, coming halfway up the dish or plate. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until thickened and golden. Set aside to cool.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add salt and flour until soft dough forms. Roll into balls and press a hole in the middle with a finger or end of a wooden spoon. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes then cool.

Once cooled, fill the centers with the dulce de leche and drizzle melted chocolate chips across the tops. To drizzle, you can use a piping bag, a spoon or a plastic bag with the tip of one corner cut off.

Recipe from www.dimplesanddelights.blogspot.com.