Saturday, 21 December 2013

Cookie exchange 2013 Part 2

In my previous post, I wrote about how I hosted a cookie exchange at work. I thought I’d share what I made and the recipe of another one of the treats baked by my colleagues. I wanted to make something quick with no fuss, so I thought cookie bars (which I think are kind of like blondies. Anyone else with me on this?). Mix, spread, bake, cut. No portioning and baking off in multiple batches. I added some cookie butter and toffee chips for good measure.

The great thing about these is that you can add any add-ins you want. In fact, the first batch I made had coffee chips in them. Incidentally, it turns out that I don’t like coffee chips (I think they taste like molasses) so I made the boyfriend take them to work, and made a batch with toffee chips instead for the cookie exchange. If you’ll notice, the photographs are of the ones from the first batch.

But first, the recipe for buckeyes!
Buckeye are the bottom - round with chocolate caps.

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1.  With an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and butter at medium speed until creamy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt (the mixture will be crumbly).
2.  Roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, in a double boiler or a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
4.  Resting each ball on the tines of a fork, lower it into the chocolate until it’s two-thirds covered. Refrigerate on the baking sheet until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.
5.  Keep the buckeyes refrigerated, between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container, for up to 3 weeks.

Cookie Bars
Adapted from here.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup salted butter
1 ¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cookie butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
½ cup toffee chips (or 2 cups of your favorite add-ins: chocolate chips, nuts, cinnamon chips, etc)
Sprinkles (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment.
2.  In a bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Set aside.
3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with the beater attachment, beat butter and both sugars on medium until fluffy (2 minutes).     
4.  Add cookie butter and beat until mixed.
5.  Add eggs and beat until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla and mix.
6.  Add the flour mixture, and mix on low until almost combined (you still see some flour).
7.  Add toffee chips, or other add-ins and mix for a few seconds until combined.
8.  Spread onto baking pan and top with sprinkles (if using). Bake for 25 minutes (check at 22 minutes with a toothpick test. If it comes out clean, you’re done).
9.  Cool in pan before taking it out and cutting.

Verdict: The cookie bars (second time around – minus the coffee chips) were just what I wanted. Chewy with lots of caramel flavour. I think my colleagues liked them too. It was such a quick and easy recipe with things that I had on hand – good to remember for emergency baking situations!

I can’t give a verdict on the buckeyes because I’m allergic to peanuts, but everyone at the cookie exchange was raving about them!

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