02 June 2017

Sending Cookie-Shaped Hugs (plus recipe: Salted Caramel Sugar Cookies)

As you’ve probably guessed by now, food is my love language. I can’t always give hugs to the people I care about. My friends and family members live all over the world (usually far beyond my arms’ reach), which is kind of amazing, when you think about it, but it makes getting together for a casual “I’m thinking about you” date kind of difficult to pull off. So when I hear that a friend is having a rough time, cookies are often the tangible way I can send my love.

These cookies were created for my friend, Amanda Gardner, who is an amazing woman, a terrific writer, and someone who always takes time to let me know that I’m loved when I’m having a rough day. (She’s a super-creative video game designer as well. Her new game, Perception, released at the end of May. And while the game is far too intense for my sensibilities, I know a lot of people who will absolutely fall in love with it. I’m proud of what she has accomplished.)

So when Amanda joked one day, after seeing one of probably a million cookie pics I had posted on Facebook, that she was having a rough week and I should send her some cookies to make it all better … I had to create a custom cookie flavor just for her.

Salted caramel sugar cookies may not quite cure the troubles in your life, but they’ll definitely make you smile! (Unless, of course, you don’t like sharing. Because I guarantee: everyone within sniffing distance will be lining up in your kitchen for a taste!)

Salted Caramel Sugar Cookies

Usually, I flatten the cookie dough slightly before baking, but for these mini (1/3 size) cookies, I left several of them unflattened for a different texture (I wouldn't recommend it for full-sized cookies, as they'd be underbaked in the center).

You will need:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
7 c. flour
Coarsely-ground sea salt (opt.)

Make caramel with the sweetened condensed milk:
Pour sweetened condensed milk into a large (2 quart) glass bowl. (It won’t fill up much of the bowl, but don’t give into the temptation to use a smaller bowl. You need plenty of room for expansion as the caramel boils, or you’ll have a mess to clean up afterward!)
Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir briskly, then scrape down the edges of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Continue to microwave for 4 more minutes, stopping the microwave every 30-45 seconds to stir the mixture and scrape the milk off the walls of the bowl. (Watch carefully, as the milk tends to bubble up and may boil over if you’re not paying attention.)
Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Cream together butter and sugar.
Beat in eggs, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and caramel.
Add half of the flour and mix until fully incorporated. Then, add remaining flour, 1 c. at a time, beating between each addition.
Portion dough with a 1-inch cookie scoop, then flatten each cookie ball into a disc, about ¼” thick. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 8 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. (Don’t overbake, or cookies won’t be soft!)

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