Showing posts with label Cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cookies. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies


After indulging in an 'unusual for me' amount of alcohol this past weekend, I should probably not be baking cookies. Especially these cookies. Peanut butter dipped in chocolate ones. Although truth be told, I had intended on making these cookies for our girls getaway trip, but time got away from me. There are many things my running friends and I have in common. Our love of a peanut butter and chocolate combination is just one of them. Only I knew I had planned on surprising everyone with some home baked cookies, so there was a bit of lingering 'should have' guilt hanging over me. I tried to assuage this guilt by saying to myself 'we had more food than we needed, at least I made the Spinach Dip and English Oat Crackers, and maybe these cookies would not have paired well with or even be remembered after a night of drinking wine, beer and shots' (definitely a combination I wasn't certain I could handle). None of these rationalizations (or rather excuses) made me feel any better, so I made them as a post-getaway trip treat instead. Convincing myself they would make for a great cross-training workout recovery snack. Rationalizing of course that peanut butter and chocolate are a healthier option than let's say three kinds of alcohol consumed in a single night (can you tell I must be getting old if that is how I think?).


Next to chocolate chip cookies, there may be no more iconic cookie than the Peanut Butter Cookie. Most us remember or have made the peanut butter cookies cross-hatched with a fork or the ones topped with Hershey's kiss. One of both of these from our childhood kinds of cookies would have left a permanent imprint on our peanut butter cookie loving hearts. And more than likely most of us have remained true to whatever recipe was handed down from the family member who made them for us. So it might almost be considered a crime if we were to deviate from a deeply loved, cherished family recipe or even abandon it. But sometimes an even better version of this classic cookie comes along. Even still, we have no reason to give up what we believe are the best peanut butter cookies we had ever tasted. But Stella Parks, author of the new cookbook "Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts" has given us one. A recipe that without a doubt refines 'best ever'. And a version that had our mothers or grandmothers known about, they would have been making. 


Peanut butter cookies made with honey-roasted peanuts may not seem like anything new, but pulsing the peanuts with the flour to make a 'peanut flour' is (at least in my world). When I saw the recipe for these Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies, I knew I did not want to tinker with it. And I didn't. However, dipping the cookies in melted milk chocolate would be my variation to her recipe. Not because the cookies by themselves weren't going to be good enough (they were better than good enough, they were wicked good). But because my palate would be wondering 'where's the jelly or where's the chocolate' if I gave it a peanut butter cookie. But that's just me. And hopefully it's some of you too!


This is one of those cookie recipes where you more than likely have everything in your cupboard or refrigerator. Maybe not the Honey Roasted Peanuts, but the flour, sugar, butter, peanut butter, egg, milk, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt are just waiting to be combined into a confection. 


After sifting the flour into a food processor, the honey roasted peanuts are added. After pulsing for approximately one minute, you are left with a fine mixture. What I am now calling 'peanut flour'. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, the peanut butter, butter, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla are beaten until light and creamy. Although there is only one egg used in this recipe, it is added in two additions (which means you have to lightly beat the egg first). Next your 'peanut flour' is added and mixed until it is incorporated into the creamed mixture. Lastly the milk is added (I used whole milk, but any percentage would work). The result is beautiful, supple, very soft dough. One that holds it shape when scooped into balls. And one hard not to stop yourself from eating.


Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, I made 25 evenly sized balls of dough. Mine weighed about 1 1/2 ounces each. They were more than the recommended 1 1/8 ounce size, but I wanted them a bit larger. In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, the cookies bake for approximately 16 minutes (mine were taken out of the oven at the 16 minute mark) or until they are still puffed in the middle and the edges are just barely beginning to brown. At this point you might think they aren't done and you should bake them longer. But letting the cookies rest on the hot/warm cookie sheet for 10 minutes (before you transfer them to a cooling rack) makes for a perfectly textured, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, peanut butter cookie. So be careful not to over bake them or they will lose their chewiness texture.


Honestly after taking one bite of these Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies before they were dipped in the melted chocolate I momentarily wondering if I really needed to. They were like an expensive bakery version cookie in appearance, taste, and texture. The kind you would have begged or paid the bakery to give you the recipe. But that little voice in my head kept saying 'you need to dip them in melted chocolate' wouldn't go away. So I dipped them. And now they were like an expensive gourmet bakery version in appearance, taste and texture. The kind of cookie you would pay more for just to be able enjoy chocolate and peanut butter in a single bite.


I know we usually associate pies as the traditional dessert for Thanksgiving, but nothing says we can't also serve a platter of cookies too. Like these Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies for example. No one should have to wait for the Christmas holiday cookie season to taste them. That would be even more cruel than me not bringing them to the girls' getaway weekend. You need to make them, even if the person in the family known for their 'peanut butter cookie' is at your dinner table. I would bet even they would concede the honor should be passed on to you (which you would graciously pass on to Stella Parks). Maybe they wouldn't say such a thing publicly, but privately they would. Because I am willing to bet (and I don't usually bet) these Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies will forever redefine what a 'great' peanut butter cookie should be. So what should you do with your current favorite peanut butter cookie recipe? Maybe it's time to just 'let it go'. 

Recipe
Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies (slight adaptation to the Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies from Stella Parks recently published cookbook 'Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts')
Makes 24-26 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (4.5 ounces/130 g) all-purpose flour (recommend Gold Medal Flour)
1 1/4 cups (6 ounces/170 g) salted, honey roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces/285 g), creamy peanut butter 
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces/285 g) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg, lightly blended
3 Tablespoons whole milk 
12-14 ounces good quality (melting) milk chocolate

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) or 180 degrees (C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Sift flour into the bowl of a large food processor. Add honey roasted peanuts and pulse until fine (approximately 1 minute).
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the peanut butter, butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and vanilla. Mixing first on low speed and gradually increasing to medium speed, beat until light and soft (approximately 3 minutes).
4. With mixer running, add the egg in two additions until each one is well incorporated.
5. Reduce speed to low and add the flour/peanut mixture. Mix until blended.
6. Finish with adding milk, and mix until you have a very soft cookie dough.
7. Using a 1 1/2" in diameter cookie cutter (about 1 1/2 ounces or 2 tablespoons), form 24-26 portions. Arrange on baking sheets, leaving at least 2" between each cookie ball.
8. Bake one tray at a time for approximately 16 minutes, rotating tray midway through the baking process. Cookies will be done when the edges are firm and just barely beginning to brown, but cookies will still be puffed and steamy in the center. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely.
9. In a bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate.
10. Dip one half of the cookies and place on a large piece of parchment paper to dry. Allow to dry completely before serving or putting in an airtight container. Cookies will be good for up to a week.

Notes: (1) These cookies made without chocolate are equally delicious. (2) Use a commercial grade versus natural peanut butter. I used JIF. (3) I used milk chocolate melting discs from a local chocolatier. But use any high quality melting milk chocolate available to you.


Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin weekend trip images  (November 2013)



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Shortbread Cookies


The anticipation of seeing the predominately green landscape change to a richly vibrant tapestry of yellows, reds, and oranges is one of the many reasons why autumn remains my favorite season. Not unlike the enthusiasm expressed by children en route to some magical place ("Are we there yet?, Are we there yet?"), I have awaken each morning wondering"Have the leaves changed yet?, Have the leaves changed yet?".  Last week the trees here in my part of the Midwest showed barely a wisp of autumnal color. But this week, Mother Nature finally began to further reveal another layer of her much anticipated splendor. Against a contrasting gray sky, the colors of the leaves in the trees lining the streets in my neighborhood and in the park near the center of town seemed even more vibrant. While it felt as if it took forever, the changes to the fall landscape have thus far been well worth the wait.


With the visual arrival of autumn comes an even greater desire to bake. A posting of some almost too beautiful to eat shortbread cookies on Instagram was enough to inspire me to take another trip down the shortbread (aka shortcake) recipe road. While not looking to replace or abandon my cherished Irish Shortbread recipe, I wanted to find another one. But it had to be a shortbread having an equally delicious flavor, yet more amenable to being rolled out and cut into an infinite number of shapes. Additionally, I wanted this next shortbread recipe to be as 'authentic' as possible. In other words, one trying to stay true as possible to the somewhat traditional 3 parts flour, 2 parts (unsalted) butter and 1 part sugar ratios. 


After spending some time going down the shortbread cookie rabbit hole, I settled on the exact ingredient amounts for the butter, flour(s) and sugar. Additionally I made the decision to use the metric weight versus the measuring cup method. Mostly because every recipe I considered listed the ingredients in grams and partly because I am finding it easier and more precise to weigh versus measure ingredients. For those of you who don't own a scale, there are multiple, easy to use grams to cups conversion links available on the internet. 


When a cookie is made with very few ingredients, quality matters even more. In her book 'The Scots Kitchen", F. Marian McNeill (1974) wrote 'Only the best ingredients should be used. The flour should be dried and sieved. The butter, which is the only moistening and shortening agent, should be squeezed free of all water. The sugar should be fine castor. Two other things are essential for success-the careful blending of the ingredients and careful firing.' Because European style butters have less 'water' in them, they seemed to the best butter shortbread making option. Granulated sugar is more common than castor sugar here in the states, although castor sugar is becoming more readily available. Considering most Irish and Scottish shortbread is more than likely made with castor sugar, it seemed there wasn't any other option than to use it. So I did. With at least four different shortbread making flour options to choose from (all-purpose, rice, semolina and cornflour aka cornstarch), the decision making process became a little more complicated. After looking at a significant number of shortbread recipe variations, it appeared using at least two of these flours would be key to making a slightly richer cookie. Which flours I used or which flour I combined with all-purpose flour would significantly affect the texture of the shortbread. Rice and semolina flours would give an added crunch and cornflour/cornstarch would give it a more 'melt in your mouth' texture. Although any of those flour options would work, I decided to use an all-purpose/rice flour combination. Based on the cookie's taste and texture, it may take me awhile to consider any other option. 


Ordinarily I don't do more than one test of a recipe (gasp!). But that's true. If a recipe turns out I share it with you. If it doesn't, it's determined not to be immediately blog worthy. So this blog posting is a bit of a departure for me. Even though the first batch of cookies actually turned out to be as buttery, crunchy, and crisp as I hoped it would be. However, I struggled a bit to get the dough to roll out smoothly using the fork and hand method to assemble the dough. Note: The leaf shaped cookies reflect the results of the first run through of the recipe. Because I had a bit of difficulty forming the dough using the more traditional fork/hand shortbread assembly process, I didn't feel as if I could in good conscious post the recipe without possibly directly or indirectly discouraging you from making them. Cookies should be relatively easy to make, they shouldn't be complicated. 

So in a somewhat non-traditional and potentially texture risking move, I decided I would attempt assembling the shortbread dough in the food processor. It turned out all of my worries were for naught, as the dough in the food processor was not only much easier to roll out, the baked shortbread was as good as, maybe even slightly better,  even more visually perfect, than the more traditionally assembled fork/hand/bowl method. Yes, I know I may have just alienated everyone having even a trace of Irish and/or Scottish ancestry by even suggesting a great shortbread could be made in a food processor. Trust me when I say this is certainly not my intent. 


Because the butter softens up a bit in the assembling process (regardless of which method used), allowing the dough to rest in refrigerator a bit ensures the dough won't be overworked in the rolling/cutting/rerolling/cutting process. Fifteen minutes of rest/chill time is all this dough needs. Note: If you keep your dough in the refrigerator longer, you will have to let it set out a bit or it will crack when rolling.


Recommend baking temperatures for shortbread ranged from 300 degrees (F) to 350 degrees (F) or 140 degrees (C) to 180 degrees (C). Both batches of these shortbread cookies were baked at 350 degrees (F) for 15-20 minutes (cookies were rolled out to 1/4" thickness).  Baking time will vary slightly primarily due to the size and thickness of the cookies. If you want a thicker shortbread cookie, your baking time will increase. Your shortbread is done when the edges are lightly golden in color.


After allowing the baked cookies to rest on the baking pan for 5 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack. Once cooled to room temperature, they can be packaged in cellophane bags or placed in a tightly sealed tin. I am fairly certain these cookies get better with a bit of age. But honestly the ones I didn't give away didn't last more than two days here. And it's not simply because we love shortbread or cookies or sweets. They were just flaky, crispy, buttery, not overly sugary, addictively amazing. They were GREAT! Definitely a shortbread cookie I would put in the throw down worthy category.

Recipe
Shortbread Cookies (inspired from multiple sources)

Ingredients
7.05 ounces (200 g) unsalted butter, cool but not chilled firm (Kerrygold is one of my favorites)
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) caster sugar
7 ounces (200 g) all-purpose flour
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) rice flour

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) or 180 degrees (C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift the all-purpose flour and rice flour. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter and caster sugar until combined.
4. Add the sifted flours until large clusters of dough forms. Be careful not to over process.
5. Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a disc or rectangle.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow it to rest.
6. On a lightly floured surface, cut dough in half. Rewrap one half and return to the refrigerator. Roll out remaining dough half to 1/4" thickness. Cut into desired shapes.
7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until edges of the shortbread are lightly browned. Allow cookies to set on pan for 5 minutes. Remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Note: Baking time may vary based on the size of the shortbread cookies.
8. While cookies are baking, roll out other half of the dough. Cut into desired shapes. Bake accordingly.
9. When cool, serve immediately or store in a tightly sealed container. 

Notes: (1) If making this shortbread using the fork/hand/bowl method, begin by cutting the butter into small cubes. In a medium sized bowl, blend the butter and sifted flours together until them mixture is crumb-like. Stir the sugar into the mixture, then using your hands squeeze it all together to form a ball (it will seem a bit crumbly). Flatten the ball of dough to about 1 inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, allow to chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before rolling out on a lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees (F) or until the edges are lightly golden. (2) I didn't make the decorative fork indentations on the leaf cookies, but did when I made them into squares. (3) In the states, India Tree's Caster Sugar is my go-to.

Grazing dairy cows (October 2017)





Friday, October 6, 2017

White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Shortbread Cookies


In the wide wonderful world of cookies, melt in your mouth shortbread cookies rank up there as my favorites. What is not to love about a buttery, borderline luxurious cookie that gets even better with age? Whether made simply with a dusting of sugar or dipped in white chocolate, left plain or studded with nuts, dried fruit or spices, shortbread cookies have an irresistible quality to them. They may one of the only cookies I find home made or store bought to be equally irresistible. Particularly if Walker's Shortbread is the store bought version. 


There are more versions of shortbread cookies on this blog than another kind of cookie. If hard pressed to pick a favorite, I couldn't. I love them all. Amy's Shortbread Cookies were one the very first cookie recipes posted to the blog. Made with chopped pistachios and white chocolate, they not only make an appearance around the holidays, but they have been known to make appearances year round.


Up until now I hadn't even considered tinkering with the original recipe. 


But then I had the idea of adding of dried cranberries to them. At first I thought about eliminating the pistachios, but then remembered just how much I love the flavor combination of dried cranberries and pistachios in the White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti


Other than adding in a half cup of chopped dried cranberries to the batter, I reduced the amount of finely chopped pistachios from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup. (See note in recipe.)

Some of my cranberries were finely chopped and some were a little more coarsely chopped. If using a crimped edge cookie cutter, finely chopping them will make the cutting process much easier.


Of the many things I love about this shortbread recipe is how easy the dough is to roll out as well as how forgiving it is. Scraps of dough can be balled up and rerolled out. Because they don't spread very much during the baking process, you can get alot of cookies on the baking pan.


In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, the cookies bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottom and edges. However, baking time will change depending on the size and thickness of the cookie. Thinner, smaller cookies will have a shorter baking time than a thicker, larger cookie. 


With or without the addition of melted white chocolate, these Cranberry Shortbread Cookies reminded me why it's a good thing I don't have shortbread cookie favorites.

You definitely need to make these White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Shortbread Cookies for all of the cookie monsters in your life. Especially the shortbread loving kind. 
Recipe
White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Shortbread Cookies (a variation to Amy's Shortbread Cookies)
Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter used.

Ingredients
1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (62 g) confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (64 g) dried cranberries, finely chopped (could also use dried cherries)
1/3 cup (45 g) chopped pistachios, plus additional for sprinkling on top of cookies (Note: Could use up to a 1/2 cup of chopped pistachios)
9 ounces (255 g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or alternately in a medium sized bowl if using a hand mixer), beat butter and confectionary sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3-4 minutes).
4. Add vanilla and mix in.
5. With mixer on low speed, add sifted dry ingredients until incorporated.
6. Add in chopped pistachios and chopped cranberries. Mix until blended.
7. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough to desired thickness (my preference is 1/4"). Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut dough and place cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
9. Bake cookies until lightly browned on the bottom (approximately 12-15 minutes, depending on the cookie's size and thickness). Allow cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes on pan before removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before dipping in melted chocolate (approximately 30-45 minutes). 
10. Place a bowl filled with the chopped white chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Dip half or the top of the cookies into the melted chocolate. Place on a sheet of parchment paper. Note: While chocolate hasn't set, sprinkle with chopped pistachios if using.
11. Allow chocolate to set completely before serving and/or storing cookies in a tightly sealed container in a cool location.

Note: (1) I kept some of the cookies plan (no chocolate); dipped some of them in the white chocolate without topping with any chopped pistachios; and dipped some in the chocolate and finished with a sprinkling of finely chopped pistachios. (2) Cookies can be placed one inch apart on the baking sheet as they spread very little during baking.



Cape Elizabeth Light, aka Two Lights, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars


The long awaited new season of "House of Cards" came out on Netflix this week. Initially I had planned on binge watching it, but after viewing the trailer I am not certain I could handle the intensity of the full season of this slightly surreal political drama all at once. So I am going to attempt to pace myself and try making the the thirteen chapters last at least a month. If for some reason you have never watched or gotten into "House of Cards" you should. It's so crazy good. And in full disclosure, watching it may even drive you a bit mad. But shouldn't really great television have an impact on our thinking or even cause us to have an emotional reaction to the characters or the content? My definition of great television explains why I also find shows like "This is Us", "Homeland", "Breaking Bad", and "Game of Thrones"so compelling. As much as I am not a fan of a long hiatus between the seasons of some of my favorite shows (waiting is not one of my virtues), having a short reprieve from their heart racing intensity is probably a good thing. While genuinely well intentioned, I will let you know whether or not I ultimately succumbed to binge watching "House of Cards". Wonder what the odds in Vegas would be on this.


Clearly having chocolate and Oreo cookies in the house is dangerous as having access to a full season of television series all at once. And yes, for someone who much prefers home-baked cookies over store-bought ones, it might seem a little strange to you that I would bring Oreo cookies into the house. Although it's not strange for me at all. For as long as I can remember, I have had a weakness for this chocolate cookie with white filing confection. They are one of my guilty pleasures. Years back when Double Stuffs came out on the market I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Bring me a package of Double Stuff Oreos and I would go to the end of the earth for you. At least once.


Combining chocolate and Oreos together isn't exactly anything new. Chopping Oreos by hand, mixing them into melted chocolate, sprinkling them with sea salt, and then cutting them into bars may only be a slightly nuanced version of a Sea Salted Chocolate Covered Oreo. Eating an Oreo cookie dipped in chocolate feels like you are eating a cookie. However, eating a bar made of chocolate and chopped Oreos feels like you are eating a candy bar and a cookie without having to choose one over the other. 


I happen to like the taste of milk and dark chocolate blended together, but when you make these Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars feel free use one or the other. Or if you don't want to choose, use an equal combination of both. For the past several years I have been melting chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. I may someday go back to it in the microwave, however, I seem to have more success tempering the chocolate and ensuring it has a glossy finish the 'old-fashioned' way. 

The majority of recipes I came across for Oreo Cookie Bars or Bark called for putting the Oreos in a plastic ziplock bag and using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer to 'crush' them. But I wanted these Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars to be filled with cookie chunks and pieces, not cookie crumbs. So I coarsely chopped them with a knife. 


After mixing the coarsely chopped cookies into the melted chocolate, I poured the mixture into a parchment paper lined 9"x12"(half-sheet) baking pan as I wanted these bars to have a uniform thickness. Smoothing the top with an offset spatula helped to fully immerse the chunks of cookies into the chocolate. During the summer months when the humidity increases, exposed chunks of or even whole cookies will soften, ultimately spoiling the whole eating experience. If you ever took a bite of a 'soft' Oreo cookie, you know what I mean. Unless you are planning on binging on these Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars in one day, keep the chunks of cookie hidden in the chocolate.


Rather than set up the chocolate by first putting it in the refrigerator, I let it sit at room temperature for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. Long enough for me to be able to pre-cut it into bars using a sharp knife. Once precut the pan went into the refrigerator for somewhere between 15-20 minutes. Long enough for them to set up a little more, but not too long for the the final cut to be made. After the second and final cut, return the bars back to the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to ensure they would be easy to handle when being wrapped.


Did I mention the top of the not yet set Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars were lightly sprinkled with some sea salt and the finely chopped crumbs from just one Oreo Cookie? It's a finishing touch detail taking them from ordinary to extraordinary.


These Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars were wrapped in pieces of parchment paper and tied with baker's string. You have the choice to wrap or not wrap them. But they really do look pretty wrapped. #justsaying


If you are looking to serve an incredibly delicious, not for the faint of chocolate heart, semi-homemade cookie bar to your family and friends, make these Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars. Cut them into squares instead of bars for the 'bite-sized' version. In other words, for those who might wan to pace themselves. Either way you decide to cut them, they are bound to quickly disappear. 

Recipe
Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bars

Ingredients
14 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
14 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
22-24 Oreo cookies (regular or Double-Stuff)
Sea Salt

Directions
1. Line a 9"x12" baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Coarsely chop 22-23 Oreo cookies with a knife. Set aside. Finely chop 1 Oreo and set aside.
3. Place chocolates in the top of a double boiler or a bowl sitting over a pan filled with about an inch of water. Stir occasionally until chocolates are completely melted. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in the chopped Oreos. 
5. Pour chocolate and Oreo mixture into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth out surface as much evenly as possible.
6. Lightly sprinkle top with sea salt and the finely chopped Oreo.
7. Allow the pan to sit at room temperature for approximately 20-30 minutes or until you can begin to cut into bars into 1"x 3" bars with a sharp knife. Note: If the cut doesn't remain, allow to sit slightly longer and recut.
8. Place the pan of partially cut bars in the refrigerator to harden. Approximately 15-20 minutes.
9. Remove from the refrigerator and use a sharp knife to make a final clean cut. Return cut bars to the refrigerator for an additional 20-30 minutes.
10. Remove chilled bars and wrap with parchment paper and baker's string. Serve and enjoy.
11. Store bars in tightly covered container.

Notes: (1) I used regular Oreos, but for bars with a greater amount of Oreo filling in them, use the Oreo Double Stuffs. If you want a Mint Chocolate Cookie (Oreo) Bar, use the Mint Oreos but omit finishing them with a sprinkling of sea salt. (2) Instead of using both milk and dark chocolate, can use either milk chocolate or dark chocolate only. (3) For slightly thinner bars, spread mixture out onto a large baking sheet. Either cut into bars or break into bark. 

Views of some of the statues and one of the formal gardens at The Mount in Lenox, MA. (May 2017)