Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pecan Caramel Surprises

Only 3 days till Christmas! Can you believe it?  

Big moves are being made in our household in the coming days..

My parents get into town tomorrow.

Mountain Man's parents are getting into town tomorrow.

That's right, Christmas is going to be at our place this year...with both families.

[insert music here] Dun-dun-duuuuun.

Since both of my brothers are on the other side of the world, it only made sense that my parents should come to Texas for Christmas and since MM's family only lives a few hours away they're going to make the trip as well.

[insert music here] Dun-dun-duuuuun.

This is going to be the first time both families are meeting! And I'm in charge of all the food and entertaining!

To be honest I just added the music for dramatic effect.. I'm not that worried about it at all. Yes, it will be a little nerve racking just making sure everything goes smoothly, but I'm actually quite excited.

And how could you not have a good time at our house when you have cookies like these to eat??

Caramel Pecan Surprises
Oven: 325 Bake time: 13 minutes
Makes 24 cookies

1 cup whole pecans (or 3 1/2 oz ground pecans)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), slightly softened and cut into cubes
1/3 cup + 1 TBS sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 package of soft caramels (24)
1 cup powdered sugar (for rolling)

Preheat oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap 24 caramels and set aside.
Place pecans and 1 TBS sugar in food processor and grind for 20 seconds.
Transfer pecans to large bowl.
Place butter, vanilla and sugar in food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times to combine. 
Add flour and pulse until blended.
Add butter/flour mixture to pecans and mix with your hands until ingredients begin to form a ball*
I found that using my hands to mix was the's a slightly sticky dough and you really have to work with it to make sure it all sticks together.

Now comes the surprise!

Using a tablespoon, roll dough into a ball and place on parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
Press individual caramels into each ball. At this point you're going to have to re-shape your cookies a little bit to make sure caramel is completely covered (so it doesn't come oozing out the sides while baking).*
I found it easiest to slightly flatten the cookie, wrap the caramel in the middle and then roll the ball in my hand until the caramel was covered.

Transfer to oven and bake for about 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Don't worry if your cookies kind of crack on the top or a little bit of caramel oozes out because you're going to drench them in powdered sugar.
Place 1 cup powdered sugar in shallow bowl.
Allow cookies to cool for about 10 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar.
Let cookies cool again for about 15 minutes then roll one more time in powdered sugar.

A little disclaimer.. this was the second batch of these cookies I made because the first were an epic fail. Caramel was all over the place and the cookies had completely fallen apart. You really have to watch these little guys so around 10 minutes just make sure you don't have lava cakes oozing out caramel in your oven. This time around I watched them very carefully to make sure the cookies stayed intact. You also might want to try putting the prepared cookies in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes before placing them in the oven which may help in the oozing caramel department.

The good thing is, even if the caramel does ooze out all over the place they're still delicious cookies!

Happy Baking!