Thursday, December 1, 2011

My contribution to the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

It is such a treat to be involved in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year. As a relatively new blogger, I am happy to contribute to this neat "pen pal" idea. I feel like I am lucky to be "picked" and really wanted to give it my all. Thursday, it is snowing to beat the band. Thus, the perfect day to stay home & bake.

Of course, I would bake my divine Sugar Cookies! Right? A no-brainer! My chef-hubbie knew this was the perfection contribution! They are delish - and so pretty too! But, according to the rules, you can't bake something you've already blogged about. Drat. So, dear reader, please click here & make them for yourself!

My Mom & her best friend Barbara had a cookie catering business back in the early 1980's... called "The Cookie Cart". They made 15 different varieties of cookies and 4 of the most delicious quick breads ever eaten! But, it was a labor of love. They were terribly under-priced (their cookie trays started at $5.00 for 3 dozen!) So, the family gained weight eating "rejects", and the westie-dog got diabetes as a result of eating treats off the floor.

I made one of my favorites from the old Cookie Cart days... Caramel Lace. This is the one recipe my Mom never shared. Why? It's pretty scientific. The few times she did share it, the recipient complained that it didn't work. Well, that's enough to make you not want to give it out... no matter how many "Oh, my... How delicious!" comments you get.

Also, be warned that this qualifies as a "Semi-Homemade" recipe. For me, that means you can make lots and lots! Caramel Lace freezes beautifully, and folks can't eat just one! They are buttery and covered in pecans... how much better can it get?

Caramel Lace Cookies:
from the cookbook of Genie Sherman, The Cookie Cart, circa 1980
  • Graham Crackers - preferably the cinnamon-sugar variety. They need to break perfectly, and I find the Albertson's Brand work best. The plain ones are also good. I've tried Keebler, and they don't break as well. Look for boxes that aren't dented. The better condition the box, the less broken the crackers.
  • 1 stick butter - I used "salted" butter, but either works great. Keep it in the fridge until you are ready to put it in the sauce pan.
  • 1 stick oleo - I used Imperial or Blue Bonnet. Again, keep it in the fridge.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Chopped pecans

Method:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 1/2 sheet pan with a silicon Silpat or Parchment Paper. Break graham crackers into rectangles. Trim with paring knife, if necessary. Fill the pan to the maximum capacity - about 48 crackers. If possible, prep as many pans as you have now, so that you can make batch after batch.


In a medium saucepan on high heat, melt a stick of butter and a stick of oleo/margarine. When they are almost completed melted, add 1 cup sugar and stir with a metal or wooden slotted spoon until it begin to boil.


Reduce your heat to medium-high, set your timer for 3 minutes, and stir mixture continuously. The mixture will bubble, mine always becomes "marshmellow-y" and very glossy.

It will double in size. Don't stop stirring.



When the chime sounds, take the butter/sugar mixture off the burner and pour over the graham crackers, edge to edge.

Using a silicon spatula, scrape the pan of all it's goodness and pour over crackers. Spread the mixture evenly, edge to edge. Work quickly!



Add chopped pecans over the mixture to cover it as much as you'd like. I use a fabulous KitchenAid pink chopper that works like a charm. (Thank you Aunt Mary Ann!!)



I like mine pretty finely chopped. Use a metal spatula to press the nuts and butter into the crackers firmly.






Put pan in pre-heated oven for 9-11 minutes. Check them at 9 minutes. If they are still pale at 11 minutes, add another minute or two. You want them caramel-colored, with the butter mixture penetrating the cracker entirely.







Remove from oven and run a knife blade along the edge of the pan. Let cool for 5 minutes or so. Using a large metal spatula, remove crackers from the pan in large sections, and allow to cool on parchment paper or non-stick cooling racks. Don't touch them until they are cool, or you will disturb the caramel & it will come right off. When totally cool, break into rectangles.









They are addictive (and all I've eaten today!) Enjoy them - make lots & lots! It's quick & easy! If one batch doesn't work, try another. Adjust your timing, and try again. Once you get it right, you'll get it right over and over! Just don't tell me if you don't like the recipe. Mom heard it over & over. Those complainers wanted the cookies - and lots of them! They just didn't want to make them!

It's true... No one can eat just one!

Now, here are the warnings:
  • Follow the directions. 3 minutes means "set the timer and take it off the burner when the buzzer sounds". Stir means "Stir it like it's your job!"
  • Feel free to adjust! If your oven is convection, bake at 350* instead of 375*. If 11 minutes isn't enough, add another minute or two. If 11 minutes turned your cookies dark brown, bake them 9 minutes instead.
  • Pre-chop your Pecans. Keep your butter & oleo in the fridge until you are ready to put it in the sauce pan.
  • Keep your oven on.
  • Set your mise-en-place up prior. Get your cookie pans lined with silpats or parchment paper. Set several cookie pans up - and use the same sauce pan for butter & sugar melting over & over again.
  • It's easier to work with 2 people... and faster. However, I baked 7 batches by myself and it didn't take that long!

1 comment:

  1. These look very interesting. Never seen a cookie like this before. I'd love to try these sometime. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    ReplyDelete