Friday, December 10, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Cookies

Last week, my friend and former student Cherry Urch (Class of 1981, now living in Texas)  mentioned to her Facebook friends some bar cookies she was baking that day. 

When I saw the name, four words popped up that told me these would be a must for my Southern-born husband:  pecans, cream cheese, caramel, pralines.

I so miss the huge box of pecans Bill's  mother Ora used to send us every year from Louisiana prior to Christmas baking time.  I especially miss them whenever I go to the store to purchase a skimpy little bag of pecans.

Still, I knew from years of living with Bill that I needed to give these cookies a try. 

Ever since I've known him, Bill will choose dessert with cream cheese over all other selections for dessert.

As for caramel, Annie knows that whenever she goes to Canada, she must purchase a box of those caramel slabs with the Scotch name for  her dad.  Can't remember the brand right now, but their container is plaid.  Bill loves his caramel.

What more can I say about Aunt Sally's pralines straight from the French Quarter in New Orleans!  We have sampled a few over the years, and any time we travel through Texas and Louisiana, we'll buy a praline or two. 

So, when Cherry mentioned her cookies, I asked for the recipe.  She said she'd have to sample them first, and if they passed her taste test, she'd send me the recipe.

After I mentioned cookie baking the other day on the blog, which Cherry reads, the recipe arrived.  

I couldn't wait to try it but had to go to town to purchase several ingredients first.  I did that yesterday.  

Except for a small package of sausage and an orange (for another cookie recipe), the remaining items in my cart were ingredients for the newly acquired recipe.  

Aside:  Don't worry.  The sausage will not appear in any cookies this year.  Super 1 Foods is proud of their home-ground maple sausage---so proud, in fact, that they often give out samples.  Hard to resist a little maple sausage.

Anyway, back to the check stand.  The total for my cookie ingredients, plus two small items, was $27-plus dollars.

"Hmm," I thought.  "These cookies had better be good."  It was then that I told the cashier that it might be wise just not to think about how much these home-baked cookies cost.

And, that price didn't even include the other ingredients, already purchased and residing in my cupboards and refrigerator. 

So, it seemed timely and appropriate to dub this recipe as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" cookies.  Nothing like "saving" money on home-produced gifts.  

Fortunately, I purchased enough ingredients for a second batch.  That was a wise move because the pan is almost half empty AND only two people have resided in this house overnight. 

The pan is far enough away from the counter's edge that our grandpuppies who stayed the night couldn't reach them.

I decided to tell, even though Bill didn't ask this morning.  He didn't ask if I wanted to save any of those bars for Christmas plates, and he didn't ask the price I'd paid for the ingredients.

So, as he was cutting off two more great big chunks from the pan, I told.  I told him to enjoy every single bite because those were pricey cookies.  Didn't faze him a bit.  He just kept on cutting and filling his plastic baggie.

So, Cherry, since I can't remember to tell people how good those pecan praline cream cheese caramel cookies  without stumbling over their name, I'll simply refer to them by my moniker.  

They are to die for and worth every penny----if I can just keep a few around the house to include on the cookie plates.

 I'll also be happy to share the recipe for anyone who doesn't mind a little sticker shock while purchasing cookie ingredients.

Here goes.  Thank you, Cherry.  

Cookie Base and Topping
1 pouch (1lb 1.5oz) Sugar cookie mix (Betty Crocker)
1/2 C cold butter
1/2 C chopped pecans
1/2 C toffee bits

2 pkgs cream cheese, softened (8 oz ea)
1/2 C sugar
2 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 C caramel topping
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Heat oven to 350. Spray bottom and sides of 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place cookie mix in bowl; cut in butter using pastry blender or fork until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 C mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture in bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar. flour, 1/4 C of the caramel topping, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over partially baked cookie base. Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping, pecans and toffee bits.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 C caramel topping. 

When they're finished and if you want them for Christmas cookies, by all means, don't tell anyone where you've hidden them. 

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