Charleston Chews

charleston chews.png

Charleston chews are one of my favorite things. No, not the candy. This is like a brown sugar blondie thing and it’s delicious! I always wait to have them when I’m in Charleston because I’ve been afraid of being disappointed in my own version. I don’t need to be afraid of that anymore! They weren’t as gooey in the middle as I’m used to, but I think I can solve that by baking for a few minutes less.

I researched a few recipes and read a few sections of the “How to Bake Everything” cookbook as I was trying to figure out the best way to make these. The only thing all of the recipes had in common was a stick of butter, a box of brown sugar, and a cup of chopped pecans. The amounts of eggs, flour, and everything else were all over the place. I decided on 1½ cups flour because 2 cups just seemed like a lot compared to everything else. I tasted the batter after mixing in 1½ cups of flour and decided that was enough (I don’t recommend doing this due to the raw eggs.) I think any more would have made them way too floury.

If you have parchment paper, I highly recommend using it to line your baking dish. These were very hard to get out of the pan, and I buttered it very well. Thankfully my Pampered Chef cake tester and releaser helped me work a miracle, and I was able to remove all of the bars.

Ingredients 

½ cup butter, softened
1 box brown sugar (I used light brown, but dark brown might be better)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour and baking powder, and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla.

Gradually add flour, beating well until combined. Mix in chopped pecans.

Spread mixture into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper (see note in narrative above – I greased it well with butter because I ran out of parchment, and they were still almost cemented into the pan.)

Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool, then cut into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Brownie Stuffed Cookies

Brownie Stuffed Cookies.png

I was at work last week, and we were having a get together to thank someone who was on a temporary assignment in our location. Someone brought in cookies with brownies inside. Another coworker who eats my baked goods often said “You HAVE to figure out how to make these!” With some trial and error, I figured them out.

IMG_5818

Oops.

The first batch didn’t turn out so well. I made a rookie mistake and didn’t refrigerate my cookie dough. I also didn’t flatten the brownie pieces. The result? The dough spread way too much and the brownies were sticking up in the middle. They turned out looking like nipples. Yep, go ahead and laugh.

The second batch was a little better. I flattened the brownies and refrigerated the dough, but the consistency was still off and they spread a little too much. They were close, but still not what I was hoping for.

Batches 1 and 2 used a traditional chocolate chip cookie dough, with the chocolate chopped into small pieces instead of in chip form.

IMG_5828

Third time’s a charm!

For the third batch, I changed the proportions a bit to make a dough that would have a consistency more like a sugar cookie dough that would hopefully hold its shape better. It worked! I didn’t chop the chocolate into small pieces and instead used chocolate chips, mainly out of tiredness. I chilled the dough for an hour and made sure the brownie pieces were squished flat.

 

Ingredients

Brownies, prepared according to recipe or box instructions.
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2½ cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate

Instructions

Prepare brownies according to recipe or package and let cool.

Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add baking powder. Add flour, ½ cup a a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Use plastic wrap to form the dough into a log and wrap tightly. Chill for one hour.

Use a very small round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out brownie pieces. Use a glass to flatten each piece. You can also take the pieces from between the cutouts, form them into balls, and flatten.

Roll out cookie dough and cut out with a slightly larger cutter. Press a brownie into half of the pieces. Top with another half of cookie dough, then press the sides to seal. If your oven is preheating, refrigerate them while you wait. Also refrigerate the ones that are waiting to go into the oven if you can’t fit all batches at once.

Bake at 375° (350° if you’re using convection) for about 10 minutes.

1972 Sugar Cookies

photo-feb-16-7-56-42-pmI have a boatload of cookbooks, but I have to admit, my 1972 Betty Crocker is my go-to for cookie recipes. I made these one night last week after dinner to take to work the next day. So yeah, I didn’t chill the dough for 2-3 hours like I was supposed to. I took a shortcut, and they turned out fine.

photo-feb-13-7-52-22-pm

He knows just where to hang out. Notice mixer above him and flour on his back leg.

It’s best to chill them in the fridge for the recommended time, but sometimes I just don’t have time for that! The primary purpose of chilling is so the cookies won’t spread too much when you bake them. Chilling the dough helps prevent spreading because it makes the fats in the dough solidify (so they won’t melt when they hit the oven). Anyway, I stuck the dough in the freezer while I was making the frosting and the oven was preheating. After rolling out and cutting a batch of the cookies, I wrapped the leftover portion of the dough and stick it in the fridge. I basically had a rotation of dough portions in and out of the fridge until I was finished.

If you don’t have a Betty Crocker cookbook, this recipe from their website is almost identical to the one in the book I have. The icing is the meringue buttercream from Karen’s Cookies. I used ½ tsp of almond extract instead of ¼.

I also made the powdered sugar in my Vitamix. I actually haven’t purchased powdered sugar since I bought my Vitamix. Test it to make sure it isn’t grainy. Sometimes I have to blend a bit longer.

I frosted them in different patterns. I filled some in completely, did some in a zig-zag (like the photo), and some just had an outline. People have varying degrees of like or dislike of frosting, so I wanted to have a variety since I was taking them to work.

Once the cookies were finished and the icing was solid enough not to get on stuff when it touches, I put the cookies in layers separated by wax paper in my Snapware Snap N’ Stack container with the egg trays removed. I always email my coworkers when I have baked goods available. I had a lot of repeat visitors!

photo-feb-13-9-44-41-pm

Mom’s Fruitcake Cookies

Fruitcake.png

We used to make fruitcake cookies every Christmas when I was little. My mom has come to visit the last several years for Christmas, and we’ve made them again every time. They’re just so good! If you hate fruitcake, don’t assume you’ll hate these. They really don’t taste like an actual fruitcake. The main similarity with actual fruitcake is the candied fruit. And I have no idea how the front and center one in the photo ended up with so much less fruit than the others. It must’ve come from the last bit of dough. Oh well!

As you’ll see below, the recipe calls for various candied fruits. I highly recommend buying the individual packages of each one and cutting them yourself instead of getting the one with chopped mixed fruit. There is usually too much citron in the mixed container. We made that mistake one year and it completely ruined the taste. If you want some citrus, add a small amount of citron or some lemon zest.

I think this recipe yields about 5 dozen, but give me a margin of error of +/- 2 dozen. Next time I make them I’ll update.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 package chopped dates (or you can get whole ones and chop them)
  • 1 package candied pineapple
  • 1 package candied red cherries
  • 1 package candied green cherries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional, I don’t usually add them)

Instructions 

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cut candied cherries into quarters. (If you’re feeling lazy like I am sometimes, a rough chop is ok. Just make sure the pieces are 1/4 size or smaller.) If the pineapple pieces are larger than the quartered cherry pieces, chop into pieces similar in size to the chopped cherries. If your dates aren’t chopped, give them a rough chop. I like the dates a smaller than the cherry pieces, but that’s personal preference.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and set aside.

Cream butter. Add sugar gradually and beat well until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Gradually add flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Make sure the flour from each addition is incorporated before adding the next.

Stir in fruit and optional nuts.

Drop dough by the teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. (Or use a cookie scoop. I seriously love this thing.)

Bake for about 12-14 minutes until lightly browned.