This year I participated in the Great Blogger Cookie Swap where I exchanged three dozen cookies with local Argentine bloggers. What is a cookie swap, might you ask? Here’s how it works: participants need to sign up (it’s free), shortly after each participant gets an e-mail with the address of three bloggers in your city, then needs to bake three dozen cookies (the same original recipe) and mail a dozen to each of your matches. Originally only open to US and Canadian BLOGGAS, some very talented locals managed to convince enough of us to participate to get Buenos Aires on the ticket!
Salted Caramel Brownie Pillow Cookies
One of the rules of the cookie swap is that the recipe needs to be original and never blogged about before. Yes, I’m kinda a big fat cheater since I have made a very close variation of pillow cookies. For the cookie swap, I did manage to put my own twist on the recipe to really kick it up a few notches, so I didn’t totally break the rules. (I planned on making a carrot cake/cream cheese frosting sandwich cookie but it did not work out as planned). So, onto the most important part, the recipe: make the sugar cookie dough – get this done first because it needs to be put in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
Then, bake some brownies.** I used David Lebovitz’s recipe with dulce de leche, but really any great brownie recipe will do. If you are a LAZY, use the box kind and pretend it was homemade. I’m not here to judge. It’s not a lie if you believe it.
**Make sure to undercook the brownies, cutting off about 5 minutes from the original recipe. You’ll be baking the brownies again inside the cookies so no need to overcook or else it will get dry and chalky. And nobody likes a chalky brownie.
Once brownies are baked and cooled, cut into bite sized nuggets, sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. Then pop a few of the salted nugs in yo mouth. Take out the sugar cookie dough from the fridge and start making dem BALLZ.
Left side of this plate has the brownie deliciousness inside, the right side have yet to be balled up.
Once each pillow cookie is formed, sprinkle coarse salt on top of each cookie, careful not to over salt because that would not taste too hot, but 3-4 small pieces of salt per cookie is sufficient. Yours will probably come out prettier and more uniform than mine, at this point I was trying hard not to inhale the whole batch of raw dough. Stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes, I’d recommend underbaking the cookies so they will have a nice soft, chewy consistency. Even if it looks a bit RAW, once you let it cool those bad boys tend to harden up.
No, this cookie jar was not made by a 3rd grader in art class… I tried to have a spurt of creativity and not just give my swap partners the cookies in a white plastic chino bag, “Here!” (as I chuck the bag at their chest) “Take it!” Since my Martha Stewart skillz are just as developed as a *slower* child trying to complete an ambitious art project, these semi decoupaged cookie jars were just weird. I even awkwardly and messily glued a fork cut out on each one. TOTAL FAIL.
The best part of the swap?! You get to eat three dozen cookies from other bloggers! The worst part of the swap?! I can’t even imagine how many grams of butter I must have consumed after eating 3 dozen cookies.
The wonderful and talented Erika, from La Ventolera blog, made delicious rainbow cookies, both in terms of taste and prettiness. These lasted less than two days before I gobbled them down. They are the type of cookies that I would never be able to make myself, so delicate and aesthetically pleasing. Another all-star baker, Juli, who writes Horneando Algo and the mastermind behind organizing Argentine participation in the cookie swap, baked up the most delicious blondies RELOADED. Really, truly awesome. I have been anxiously awaiting all week for her to post the recipe on her blog because I think I’m ADDICTED. Finally, a much needed “lighter” cookie, Agustina, a newcomer to the food blogging world from Ponete el Delantal whipped up some tasty whole wheat pepas with honey and dulce de batata. Another great recipe that I can’t wait to try.
- Dulce de leche brownies
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup (225 g) softened butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- coarse salt (parrilla sal grueso)
- fine sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Bake the brownies (I followed David Lebovitz’s recipe exactly and it turned out pretty good). **Once brownies are cooled, cut into small pieces and sprinkle with fine sea salt, set aside**
3. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
4. In a larger bowl, whip together softened butter and sugar until smooth (you don’t need any electric mixers – I did this one by hand!). Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually, blend the dry ingredients, 1/2 cup of flour at a time. Make sure it’s well mixed.
5. Cover with plastic and put in the fridge for at least one hour to chill – you want to work with cool dough because warmish dough becomes messy and unruly.
6. With a big spoon, take a handful of cookie dough and place on a cookie sheet (ideally with parchment paper, but who really has that?). Press a piece of brownie to the center and gently work the remaining dough around the brownie, shaping it in your hand to make a ball-ish formation. Use a tiny ice cream scoop if you’re a perfectionist. I’m not so I do it by hand.
7. Bake for about 10 – 15 minutes right before it turns golden brown. I prefer my cookies underbaked with a gooey, chewy consistency.