My friend Laura and I hosted our 3rd Annual Cookie Exchange last weekend. Laura was gracious enough to host at her house (for the 3rd year in a row--THANK YOU Laura!!). We had 11 varieties of cookies exchanged this year. I made Sandies by the Sea. They are so good, even though they look a little time consuming they were very easy to make. Leave a comment with your favorite holiday cookie and recipe if you feel like sharing. Here's the recipe (I did not use the sea salt on mine, because I couldn't find it in this small town, and I think when I make these again I will use milk chocolate instead of bittersweet, but its all about your personal preference):
SANDIES BY THE SEA
2C. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C pecans, *lightly toasted and very finely ground (using a food processor)
20 caramel candies
3 Tbsp cream or whole milk
2-3 Tbsp large crystal sea salt
1 C chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate morsels
*To toast pecans, place nuts in a single layer in an ungreased shallow pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan to cool.
1. Combine flour and salt in bowl, set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer or wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla; beat to incorporate. Add dry ingredients in batches, mixing between each, and then stir in ground pecans. Cover and chill dough 1 hour or until firm.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or butter the sheets.
4. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls with floured hands. Place on baking sheets at least 1 inch apart, and depress a cavity in the center of each ball using your thumb or rounded implement. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown and set. Check halfway through baking to see that the depressions are still deep enough to fill. If not, use a floured spoon to redefine.
5. Remove cookies from oven and let them sit for a few minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer with a metal spatula to a wire cooling rack set over a piece of parchment paper.
6. Melt caramel candies and cream together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Fill the center of each cookies with approximately 1/2 tsp of the caramel. While the filling is still warm, sprinkle centers evenly with sea salt, and let them sit until firm.
7. Place chocolate in a sturdy plastic bag in a bowl, in microwave and heat on medium at 30 second intervals, massaging between each, until melted. Cut a small hole in corner bottom of bag and drizzle melted chocolate across each cookie; add additional salt if desired and allow cookies to sit until chocolate has become firm.
Makes 1-3 dozen 2 inch thumbprint style cookies
Here's the cookies all dressed for the party: