Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Cookies with Sea Salt

Moving day is very quickly approaching. It's like stress levels to the max over here! My apartment is a mess of boxes and I'm just trying to keep calm and be ready for the fact that in 1 week...I'm gonna pack up and ship on out.

Emotional preparations aside, I also need to try to keep the stuff we have to bring with us to a minimum, so I've needed to do some pantry cleaning. That, my friends, is how these big, beautiful cookies were born.
I've had half a bag of crushed Butterfingers hanging out in my freezer since I made these and these. And I still had a good amount of mini peanut butter cups from this cookie recipe I made a little over a month ago. And those had to go! So I thought...hey...let's make some cookies. And I'll use that delicious cookie base recipe from Baker by Nature that I used for that cookie recipe I just mentioned-it's perfect for mix-ins! And...guys...they COULD NOT have turned out better!!
These are essentially a browned butter chocolate chip cookie base but...it straddles the line between that and a peanut butter cookie. I added a couple tablespoons of peanut butter to the dough-just enough to highlight the flavors of the butterfingers and peanut butter cups, but to still let that yummy browned butter/brown sugar flavor shine through!

And they are BIG, sturdy, chewy, gooey, perfectly textured, perfectly delicious cookies. They'd be perfect to give or send someone as a gift. PLUS-they're pretttyyy, just look at those crackly tops! I DIE over crackly tops!
And the taste aghhhh! You bite in and you get the crunchy toffee-peanut butter flavor of the Butterfingers throughout, and these awesome chunks of a bigger chocolate peanut butter punch from the pb cups, and there's the complexity of the browned butter and that hint of peanut butter that lingers...and...of course...there's sea salt (I used some gorgeously large cyprus flakes). Sweet and salty allll the way!

Fun story: I had a giant cookie at a restaurant recently and all I could think the whole time I ate it was how much better it would've been with salt on top. I am an addict.

 Browned Butter Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Cookies with Sea Salt

Author: Kayle, "The Cooking Actress"
Base recipe adapted from Baker by Nature

Makes 16 large cookies.
Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (or kosher salt) + more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup (or 16 tbsp. or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter 
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4-1 cup chopped peanut butter cups (approx. 14-20 mini's)
  • 3/4-1 cup crushed Butterfingers
Preparation:
  • Line 2 large cookie sheets (or just 1 that you'll re-use in 2 batches) with parchment paper or silicone baking mat(s). Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • To brown the butter: In a (preferably light colored) saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, whisking as it melts, foams, bubbles, and eventually little brown bits form and it turns amber. Immediately pour into a large, heatproof, bowl, and use a spatula to scrape all the little brown bits into the bowl.
  • Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the peanut butter, vanilla, and sugars into the butter for a couple minutes, until it lightens a bit and gets sort of fluffy (it will be a very greasy looking mixture).
  • Beat in eggs for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing after each addition until just combined. 
  • Stir in the chopped peanut butter cups and crushed Butterfingers until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • Using a large (1/4 cup) cookie scoop, measure out large balls of cookie dough and place them on the baking sheet(s), leaving plenty of room in between (I was able to fit 8 cookies on my very large cookie sheet). Sprinkle with sea (or kosher) salt. 
  • Bake 13 minutes (ovens vary, however, so the time may as well), until golden around the edges (if baking 2 sheets at once, be sure to rotate the pans for even baking). Remove and allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Serve warm! Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
So. GOSH. DARN. GOOOOD!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

Caramel corn is super duper delish. It's portable, it's addictive, it's crunchy, it's sweet and salty and just....YUM!

But...ugh. It is a hassle to make! That is why this recipe is AWESOME! So much quicker and so much easier, it's a gift from the caramel corn gods!
Now, I will say, when it comes down to it: I still prefer my old favorite caramel corn recipe. BUT, like I said-a hassle. This recipe is my new go-to when I have a hankering and I just want to be able to whip up some caramel corn quickly and easily and without such a big mess and with A LOT less dishes! (woot! wooooot!)
Hey-when you say "caramel corn" do people ever think you mean candy corn? This has been a mixup that's happened a couple times in my life recently. It's like...nono I know candy corn is awful. I'm talking about CARAMEL corn...you know...popcorn....coated in caramel. Like from the circus or a fair or just that super cute gourmet popcorn kiosk in the mall?
Anyway. So. Here's what we've got: pop some popcorn in a brown bag (which we've talked about before), mix up some caramel in the microwave (surprisingly simple!), then-now, prepare yourself, this COULD get messy, make sure your brown paper bag is sturdy!-you pour that caramel in the bag with the popcorn and shake it until it's all coated, THEN microwave, THEEEN shake it, THENTHENTHEN microwave it some more. Then shake it again. Then lay it out and let it cool and harden. TA-DAAAA (or, as the little girl I babysit says "DAAAAAA!") you have caramel corn!!! It's going to be crunchy, but still a little sticky (so be prepared to find delicious leftover morsels in your teeth for the next couple hours :P). 

And there you have it: simple! Gotta love a microwave.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Something Saturdays (4/19/14)

Well this week has been an emotional rollercoaster. Michael's not doing so hot-he misses me oodles (awww) and his routine has been completely thrown off (which he does not deal well with) and he hasn't really been eating or sleeping very well aaaaand...he hates his job. Which...ya know...sucks. We knew it wasn't ideal but apparently it is quite awful-much more corrections (aka prison) than he wants (for the record, the amount of corrections he would like in a future job is pretty much 0. And this job is like 99%). Anyway, it's gotten to a point where I think he'll be able to bear it just long enough for us to find him something else. So that's ok I suppose.

Anyway, all of that compounded with me missing Michael (I forgot how lonely living here can be without him) and not looking forward to us having to job hunt for him again and the overwhelming-ness of the move and everything...I just hadn't really let myself feel those feelings and it culminated in a big sobbing fit on Monday. I feel much better now. Plus, on Wednesday I had a wonderful time with my cousin Emily and TONIGHT IS MY GOING AWAY PARTY!! I'm really excited but really nervous. Past experience of me throwing parties has not gone so well. I'm a smidge worried very few people will show. Buuuut....the fact that it'll be my last chance to see a lot of people will hopefully make some people come out.

yeah. I'll tell ya how it goes!

In other news: My mom said for future family functions (where generally my mom and her siblings bring food, not so much the grandkids) she'll just pay me money for ingredients and let me make the food that's "from her" OH MY GOSH I AM SO EXCITED! I'm gonna feed everyooooone!!!

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