We have had an amazing Cookie Exchange! We are so honored to have so many talented guests, from all over the world, pull up a chair at our Table and share their favorite cookie recipes! Not only has there been a variety of recipes, but also a beautiful array of stories, memories and feelings about what the holidays hold for each of our guests. We want to thank them all for taking the time to share with us! And, we can’t wait to make these recipes for our families!
In the midst of our virtual Cookie Exchange, I was invited to an “in real life” Cookie Exchange with a number of local Baltimore/DC bloggers!
Immediately my brain began going over every cookie recipe I’d ever made, hoping to find just the right one! I was coming up short. I knew there would be plenty of sugar cookies and variations of chocolate chip cookies…I wanted something unique! Then I came across this recipe in Food and Wine’s November 2010 magazine.
Stop my beating heart!!! Chocolate, bacon, coconut, almonds, dulce de leche!!! What more could you ask for in a cookie?
This recipe seemed pretty doable. It seemed straight forward until I realized my local grocery store doesn’t carry dulce de leche. So, as I’m standing there in the refrigerated isle, I pulled out my phone (I love modern technology!) and googled dulce de leche recipes. At the top of the screen was Alton Brown’s recipe. Being as we are huge fans of Alton Brown, I quickly scrolled the recipe and gathered the necessary ingredients.
Friday night I started to prep for my now-more-difficult, cookie recipe! I began by bringing the milk and sugar to a boil.
Making dulce de leche is not hard, but it takes some time and, can I just say, it’s soooo worth it! I even added a bit to the kids steamers for a dulce de leche steamer. Delish!! (But, if you can find it jarred, you can save time skipping this step.)
It cooked for almost 3 hours and turned into a yummy caramel color and consistency.
Meanwhile, I baked the bacon. (Yes, baked…a secret I learned from my husband’s time in commercial kitchens. It’s less messy and so much easier than frying up in a pan!)
The sliced almonds were also roasted in the oven. (You can buy them pre- roasted and salted and save a step here too.)
After the bacon, dulce de leche and almonds were done, I put them in the fridge overnight.
The next morning I brewed an Americano and got busy finishing these babies! After setting the oven to 350 F, I put the butter into the pan to melt and brown. Browned butter is called beurre noisette. It’s a french technique that adds a delicious nutty flavor to the butter. I will say, it pays to buy good butter for this step! Once the butter is brown, you have to freeze it. This takes about 15 minutes. I froze it in my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl.
After it’s frozen, add the sugar, vanilla seeds, (you can substitute a tsp. of vanilla for the beans) egg yolk and mix.
Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times to get all the butter. Mix until moist crumbs form.
Then press the mixture into a pre-prepared pan. (Just so you know, I doubled this recipe, that’s why my pan is so large.) Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes until set and golden brown.
While the crust is baking, mix the crumbled bacon, chocolate chips, coconut and roasted almonds in a bowl.
Set aside. Then pour the dulce de leche in with the sweetened condensed milk and mix.
After the crust is done, pour 2/3 of the dulce de leche mix onto the crust, then sprinkle the bacon mix right onto the dulce de leche and press it gently into the caramel.
Then pour the rest of the dulce de leche onto the mix.
Bake these bars for 35-40 minutes.
Just for a little extra something special, I sprinkled a little bit of flake salt over the top!
After these cookies cool, cut them into squares or triangles.
I packed mine up and got ready to go to Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom‘s Cookie Exchange!
- 1 quart whole milk
- 12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.
Dulce de Leche, Bacon, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Magic Bars borrowed from Grace Parisi compliments of Food and Wine
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces bacon, finely diced
- 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (6 1/2 ounces)
- 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped
- One 16-ounce jar dulce de leche
- One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper, leaving up to 1 inch of overhang. Spray the paper with vegetable oil spray.
- In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the butter into a large bowl and freeze just until solid, about 15 minutes.
- Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar, vanilla seeds and egg yolk into the butter at medium speed until blended. Add the flour and salt and beat until moistened crumbs form. Press the crumbs into the prepared baking pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until the crust is set and lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, wipe out the bowl used to make the crust. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and let cool. In the bowl, toss the coconut with the chocolate chips, almonds and bacon.
- In another bowl, whisk the dulce de leche with the condensed milk; pour two-thirds of it in the crust. Lightly press the coconut-bacon mixture over the dulce de leche. Drizzle the remaining dulce de leche mixture on top.
- Bake the bars for 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the bars cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Carefully remove the bars from the pan and peel off the paper. Cut into bars and serve.
The bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to 1 week.