Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) or Chocolate Toffee Bark

Chocolate Caramel Crack

I wasn’t going to make this. Nope, not me. You see I usually like my christmas treats to be complicated and require at least an hour of labor. But then I had my second kid and she hit the terrible twos and now …well… now I am a lot more open to trying quicker things. But in all honesty I would not have tried this delicious recipe if it wasn’t for my all-things-food-person Marium. She made it and raved about it and then I had to. Yes folks, after all that resisting, all it took was someone I think is cool to make it and I turn into a big ol’ copycat.

Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) or Chocolate Toffee Bark

The first time I made it I messed up a little (oops), but by the second I had learnt my lesson. The right sized baking sheet is key, otherwise the whole caramel to cracker ratio is off. The recipe is definitely very very sweet so adding instant coffee to the caramel helped temper that overt sweetness. Also please please stick to semi sweet chocolate or darker, anything sweeter is too much.

You could add anything you want to the top and I toyed with christmas-sprinkes, but then I decided that this delicious delicious beauty didn’t need to get any sweeter and I stuck to toasted flaked almonds as suggested by Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

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Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies w Skor Bits

When we were little my brother Murtaza decided that we need to eat peanut butter. It was hardly a staple in our Pakistanis-in-Saudi Arabia household, but my parents promptly obliged by buying an imported jar of the stuff. We tried it and all of us unanimously thought it sucked. My mother then tried the back of the jar cookie recipe for peanut butter cookies, but with no success. Not for a lack of talent mind you, my mother was quite the baker. We just didn’t like peanut butter.

Somehow I went from being that kid to the adult who eats it off a spoon as a snack, whose kids do the same, who doesn’t believe in peanut butter and jelly because it gets in the way of the peanut buttery goodness and who can’t say no to a peanut butter cookie. How did this happen? Beats me.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

When I recently acquired Tara O’Bradys Seven Spoons cookbook I marked a whole variety of things to try, but a late afternoon craving had me turning to her Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies first. Whole Wheat Flour, Natural Peanut Butter, 2 tbsp honey, I didn’t think that these changes off the usual would make such a difference, but suddenly it was like I was eating a cookie that had grown up. It is less cloyingly sweet than previous ones, but has a deeper flavour. I added 1/3 cup of skor bits and while they weren’t noticeable in a warm cookie, they definitely added interest to cooled ones.

As you can see my cookies were slim at best despite the freezing and I blame that on my overfull freezer. I am sure if you follow the freezing instructions yours won’t be so slender. They are in their thin form the perfect candidate for a filling. Strawberry Jam, Dulce de leche, vanilla cream, or perhaps a dollop of Nutella with a little Sea Salt?

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

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Salty-Sweet Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Quite recently a fellow transplant from Pakistan reached out and commented on how “exhilliratingly high the aroma of vanilla and sugar emanating from my oven makes me (her)”. The entire time these cookies were baking all I could think of was how perfect these would be for her, a fellow lover of butter and sugar. E, I hope you make them and know just how much I appreciate your kind words 🙂

Salty Sweet Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

If vanilla has soft beauty then butterscotch packs a sweet punch. It’s tempered by a subtle amount of coffee and a healthy smattering of chopped, toasted pecans. The real piece-de-resistance though is the sweet and salty sugar that these cookies roll around in before making their way on to the baking sheet. I more or less kept the original name (i.e. Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies) for the recipe out of deference to the awesome people at King Arthur Flour, but really these are Crack Cookies.

June 5 2015 274

You can’t have just one.

Especially when they’re warm.

Fuggedaboutit.

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My Favorite Sugar Cookie – Cream Cheese Cut-Out Cookies

Decorated sugar cookies are so pretty aren’t they? I frequently see them in bakeries and cafes. The pretty colors and designs always make my older girl ooh and aah then beg and plead and most of the time she winds up not liking them. I can’t blame her because neither do I. Then a few years ago I discovered this cookie. This cookie has real bona fide flavor. People like it even without the icing and that says a lot.

My Favorite Sugar Cookie - Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies

My Favorite Sugar Cookie - Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies

There are two things that make this cookie a little extra special – one the inclusion of cream cheese and the second the few drops of almond extract which give it a fresh undertone without it tasting overtly like almonds. Mind you, I don’t always use the extract especially if I am taking them somewhere that is nut free and they are delicious without.

My Favorite Sugar Cookies - Cream Cheese Roll Out Cookies

My favorite part about making these cookies was decorating them. My royal icing skills were pretty pathetic, but then youtube came to the rescue and now I love it and can’t wait to try different designs and techniques!

For those of you keeping track this is now my 8th out of 10 (hopefully) posts as part of the South Asian Blogger Networks two week blogging challenge! I see more and more of you are coming back here and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU!

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Orange Sugar Palmiers

Pretty much every bakery in Karachi sells Palmiers or French Hearts. They are one of those things that I can rarely resist picking up when I am back in Karachi, but am frequently disappointed by. The thing is they are just a little… boring you know?

Orange Sugar Palmiers

In one of my recent nostalgic moods I pulled out a sheet of all butter puff pastry from my freezer and looked around for inspiration. It came quickly in the form of two lackluster oranges lying in my fruit bowl. Remember the citrus sugar I had made for beignets? I zested the oranges, rubbed the zest into some granulated sugar, added a teensy bit of salt and wow, these were really good. The orange zest brightens the flavor of these flaky petite puff pastry treats and transforms them into something extraordinary.

They’re also really pretty (if I do say so myself) and would make great hostess gifts or a very welcome addition to the usual smorgasbord of Christmas cookies.

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios

I don’t know about you all, but we have been having a moody few days in Toronto. Dark skies, snow storms, rain, and then the one sunny/warm day we had was accompanied by forceful winds. My body is already craving summer. Since there is little I can do about the weather I decided to revisit a favorite in the form of these deeply chocolaty cookies with salty subtle pistachios and chocolate chips.

So. Freaking. Good.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios

I had my concerns you know – especially since I pretty much made these from memory. My recipes disappear on me sometimes. They’re sneaky like that. Fortunately, my memory hasn’t failed me entirely and these babies were pretty darn delicious.

They are also extremely customizable. With the Holidays upon us they would be a great hostess gift and you can make them more Christmas-y by using red/green M&Ms or white chocolate chips and mint extract. The possibilities are endless.

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Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

There are biscuits you make to impress people – the pretty kind, the indulgent kind, the kind that you look at and ooh and aah. These are clearly not those biscuits, these are the biscuits that you put into the nearest jar and share with a good friend over coffee and really good conversation. There is something extraordinarily comforting about the crunch of finely chopped hazelnuts toasted to nutty caramelly perfection and I can imagine them disappearing quickly over gossip with friends.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

If you wanted to make these prettier looking you could do so with a little drizzle of chocolate or a dunk in Nutella and some nonpareils. Before gussying them up try them as they are just so you can truly appreciate just how something so simple can be so good.

Added perks? Great hazelnut taste without peeling and toasting hazelnuts AND they are eggless for those avoiding eggs.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

These babies are from Alice Medrich’s book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy and so far most of the things that I have tried from this book have turned out well including these.

Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

On another note, I am sorry for the lack of posts. A crazy combination of time away, failed photos, recipes that I came up with and forgot to write down has meant that I have been an absentee blogger. My instagram followers (@sarahjmir) know that for the most of it I have been cooking and baking away and will have lots to share with you in the coming weeks!

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