Tag Archives: sweet and salty

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsFor a short week, this one has seemed endless. There has been change and growth and letting go and construction and a migraine that began on Tuesday night and continued well into Wednesday afternoon.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsWhat I’m saying is that I could use a treat. Luckily, I have a refrigerator full of these Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars, which are the perfect chewy, gooey, crispy-edged, chocolate-studded sweet to counteract all the negative energy in my immediate vicinity.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsIn addition to being a perfect flavor and textural combination, these bars are super easy to make. The cookie layers are simply a chocolate chip cookie play on the crumb I used in my Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble. It comes together in five minutes and only requires one bowl—score!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsA little more than half of the cookie mix gets pressed into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Then comes the salted caramel, which is simply a bag of soft caramel candies that are melted with salt and heavy cream.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsThe remaining cookie mix is scattered over the top of the caramel and then everything is baked until the edges are crisp and the caramel is starting to bubble up through the cookie crumble.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsLet your bars cool completely before slicing. If you try to cut them before they’re cool, you won’t get the satisfaction that comes with clean edges and beautiful layers (if not perfect evenness).Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsAnd that’s to say nothing of the buttery chocolate chip cookie layers and the gooey, salty caramel filling, which are a match made in dessert heaven. So, so delicious.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsI logically know that dessert is not going to change the world, but I can’t seem to look at these and see anything but goodness. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars can’t solve my problems, but four bites of salty-sweet caramel sandwiched between layers of crisp cookie can certainly help soften the blow, am I right?!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars
makes about 16 bars

Chocolate Chip Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 reaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Salted Caramel Filling:
1 11-ounce bag caramel candies, unwrapped
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make the chocolate chip dough. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla and melted butter and whisk until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in mini chocolate chips. Set aside. Dough may seem crumbly.

Make the salted caramel layer. Combine caramels, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Firmly press about 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chip dough into a thin, even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour caramel over the top and smooth to the edges. Scatter remaining dough mixture over the top. Try not to leave any huge areas of caramel uncovered, lest it burn.

Bake full pan for 23-26 minutes, or until turning golden at the edges. Caramel will be liquid straight out of the oven, but will set as bars cool. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Slice bars with a lightly greased chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Do not try to slice bars until they are completely room temperature.

Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Layer them with wax paper to keep them from sticking together.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

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Salted Grapefruit Scones

Winter food can get dull. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pot pie or stew, and lord knows I could eat my weight in mashed potatoes, but after a while, I just want to eat fresh produce that isn’t a) a root vegetable, or b) kale. I love them both, but being at least three months away from really great berries and five away from a tomato that is good enough to be eaten like an apple has got me in a winter produce funk.

This happens every year though, until that wonderful, shining moment when I remember winter citrus. It’s a welcome taste of sunshine in the midst of all the wind and snow. Meyer lemons and key limes and clementines are all in season, waiting to be made into cakes and pies, or even thrown into salads! But the thing that always gets me is the grapefruit. Being from Texas, I prefer Ruby Red, but those are hard to come by in New York City. White and pink are delicious and all, but Ruby Red is just a cut above. It’s a little sweeter than other varieties, but still bitter enough to taste like grapefruit. Imagine my surprise when, after years of not seeing one Ruby Red in New York, I saw a whole box at my local green grocer. And they were on sale! Without a second thought, I grabbed two, handed over some change and ran home to make these scones.

I love a good scone. Soft in the middle with crunchy edges, not too sweet, great with a huge cup of coffee or tea. But good scones are hard to come by at coffee shops–they can be dry and cakey throughout, with very little depth of flavor. They’re simply not worth the cash or the calories, as far as I’m concerned. But these scones? They’re soft and buttery, sweetened with just a bit of honey and sugar, dotted with juicy pieces of fresh grapefruit, and topped with sea salt both for crunch and because sea salt and grapefruit are divine together. It may sound a little odd, but the salt makes the sweetness of the grapefruit shine. It’s so, so good.

These scones are quick and easy to whip up, and take less than an hour start-to-finish. Mix together some half-and-half and honey, and put it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the other ingredients. Use your fingers to rub the zest of one grapefruit into two tablespoons of granulated sugar until it’s well-combined and a little pasty (it’s better than it sounds). Peel that zested grapefruit and segment it, trying to avoid as much of the pith, membrane, and seeds as possible. This will keep the grapefruit from making the scones too bitter. Don’t worry too much about having perfect segments–they’ll break apart anyway when they’re mixed into the dough.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and the zest-sugar mixture. This may look a little clumpy because of the oils in the zest, but it’ll all even out with the other ingredients. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut in one stick of cold butter until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Then use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the half-and-half mixture and the segmented grapefruit. The dough will be pretty wet, but should still have some body to it.

  Turn the dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Don’t skimp on the flour. If you do, you’ll have dough stuck to everything and probably start cursing my name, and that’s no good when there are awesome scones to be had! Flour your hands and pat the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper (my tool of choice) to cut the disc into eight wedges. Transfer the wedges to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 425F for 18-20 minutes, until cooked-through and light golden. Then stir up a glaze with some confectioner’s sugar and the juice of a second grapefruit, drizzle it over the scones, and sprinkle with crunchy coarse sea salt! All you need is a hot cup of coffee or tea and some good company 😊

Break out of the heavy winter food rut with these Salted Grapefruit Scones! Sweet and salty, soft and buttery, they’re a wonderful way to start these cold, snowy days.

 Salted Grapefruit Scones
makes 8 scones

3/4 cup half-and-half + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons honey
2 medium Ruby Red grapefruits**, divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
3/4-1 cup confectioner’s sugar
coarse sea salt*, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper. Set aside.

Whisk together half-and-half and honey, and place it in the refrigerator to stay cold.

Zest one grapefruit. In a small bowl, rub together the zest and the granulated sugar. Set aside.

Peel the zested grapefruit, and segment it, removing as much of the pith and membranes as possible, as well as all of the seeds. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and zest-sugar mixture. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add in the half-and-half mixture and grapefruit segments and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate them into a wet dough, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add up to 2 tablespoons more flour.

Turn the dough out onto a very well floured surface and use floured hands to pat it into a 1-inch thick disc. Flour a sharp knife (not serrated) or bench scraper and use it to cut the dough into eight wedges. Remove wedges to prepared pan, and brush the tops with additional half-and-half. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until light golden. Let scones cool on the pan for five minutes before removing to the prepared rack.

Make the glaze. Slice the second grapefruit in half. Seed one half of the grapefruit and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Pour confectioner’s sugar into a second small bowl and add two tablespoons of the fresh grapefruit juice. Whisk with a fork until no lumps remain, adding juice or confectioner’s sugar until the glaze is to the desired consistency. Use a fork or small squeeze bottle to drizzle the glaze over the scones. Sprinkle wet glaze with coarse sea salt. Enjoy!

Glaze will fully set after a couple of hours. Scones are best the day they are made, but may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Notes:

1. My grapefruits were about the size of a large orange.
2. If you can’t find Ruby Red, white or pink grapefruits may be substituted.
3. I use Trader Joe’s Pyramid Salt.

Salted Grapefruit Scones

Double Chocolate Fritos Cookies

 I love being from Texas. I do. I love barbecue and big skies and Willie Nelson and Texas Rangers baseball. I would wear cowboy boots every single day if they weren’t so quickly destroyed by the streets of New York. May my busted Noconas rest peacefully in the back of the closet.

But the one thing that I’m really supposed to love almost as much as God and family? The one thing that Texans love so much that there’s an Emmy-winning TV series about it? Football? I can’t stand it. Total snoozefest for me. My parents and sister-in-law live for it, but I just can’t get into it. As such, I have no clue who is playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday, except that it’s not Tom Brady. Sorry, Boston friends 😭

But for everything I don’t understand about football, the one thing I love is the food. Platter after platter of salty, starchy, cheesy everything? Now that’s my kind of Sunday evening. But for all the wings and pizza and artichoke dip, I often find a distinct lack of dessert. Not that dessert is necessary after all that heavy food, but come on. The Super Bowl is supposed to be a celebration, right?! And celebrations demand dessert! Or at least they do in my kitchen. 

Enter these Double Chocolate Fritos Cookies. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. These cookies contain both chocolate and Fritos. If you’ve never tried chasing Fritos with chocolate chips, you are missing out. The salty, crunchy corn chips with sweet, melty chocolate are to. die. for. These cookies have a soft chocolate cookie base that has the taste and texture of fudgy brownies–make sure to try one warm from the oven! The cookie itself and the super melty chocolate chips…just do it. And the Fritos! They soften just slightly from the moisture in the cookie dough, but they retain a lot of crunch. They add so much chewy texture to these cookies! Their signature saltiness is somewhat masked by all the chocolate, but that’s easily remedied with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. Yum.

This recipe is super simple to put together, and it makes a lot of cookies (four dozen). If that seems like too many for your get together, let me say this: they will get eaten. Trust me. After the smorgasbord of cheese that is game day food, these sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy chocolate cookies will be a welcome end to the party. No matter who gets the trophy on Sunday, these Double Chocolate Fritos Cookies will definitely be winners 😊 

 Double Chocolate Fritos Cookies
makes about four dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder*
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar*, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups lightly crushed Fritos
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling*

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in granulated sugar and dark brown sugar. Beat in eggs followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in three installments, mixing after each addition. Fold in Fritos and semisweet chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake 8-9 minutes, or until the cookies look just slightly underdone. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.


Notes:

1. Do not use Dutch process cocoa powder.
2. Light brown sugar may be substituted.
3. I use Trader Joe’s Pyramid Salt.