December 15, 2017

A La Carte: Incredible Cookies Combine Caramel and Chocolate

At the end of my spacious, galley-like kitchen, there is a bay window under which is a window seat that holds all my somewhat heavy, counter-type appliances. These include two Cuisinart (one a big one, one a little one), a Ninja Pro that purees faster than a blink of one’s eye, a big Crock-Pot, two grinders, a machine that turns water into carbonated drinks and a blender. In the back is an industrial-grade Bernzomatic to make crème brulee. (What? You don’t have one? Really?)

What has been missing for almost three weeks is the biggest of my tiara of gadgets: my KitchenAid mixer. It is about 10-years-old and a new one costs around $600.

At some point, the arm that holds the bowl had become stuck. Nothing I did would make it go up and down. As the diagnostician, I figured out what was wrong and looked at YouTube to see if I could fix it. It would have involved taking the head off, removing the engine, taking off the arm and buying the plastic part that was broken.

Were I able to do this, it involved about 16 screws. I am sure I would have lost many of them. So I called KitchenAid who were of little help.

Finally, HomeAdvisor gave me the name of a man in Rhode Island. He sounded lovely on the phone, so I drove the monster to his house in Central Falls. A few days later, he called and told me what was wrong. I gave him the go-ahead. A week and $166 later, my baby is back.

By the way, my diagnosis was wrong.

I am now a happy camper. I am hoping this will last for another 10 to 20 years. My aunt had one when she got married, in 1934. When she died, in 1995, I gave it to my friend Marilyn Whiney. She still uses it.

What did I make first? I doubled the recipe for a cookie that called for the muscles of a weight lifter or, in my case, my KitchenAid.

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Martha Stewart Living, September, 2017, page 76

Yield: 12 cookies

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 and one-half cups packed light brown sugar
One-half cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Three-quarter teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into one-half inch pieces
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1 whole bag)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
24 caramels, such as Kraft, halved

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with racks on top and middle. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together flour, both sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter; beat on medium speed until combined but some pea-size butter chunks remain. Add chocolate chips and beat until combined, then beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.

Line two baking sheets with parchment (I use Silpat instead.) Scoop dough into 4-ounce balls (each about one-half cu), make a deep, wide hollow in each center. Enclose 3 pieces of caramel in each; roll back into a ball. Place 6 balls on each sheet. Freeze 15 minutes.

Bake, with one sheet on each rack, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, swap sheet positions and bake until centers are almost but not completely set (press gently on tops with your fingers to check), 7 to 10 minutes more. Remove from oven. Bang sheets on a counter a few times to create cracks on tops of cookies. Place sheets on a wire rack; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

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