Have you been seeing lots of posts about cookies on all of your favorite food blogs? It’s probably because of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! This fun swap hooks you up with other bloggers- and even has a charity angle! The deal is: you sign up with a small fee (which goes directly to charity- this year over $10k was raised!) and you are assigned three bloggers to send cookies to. You are tasked with thinking of a recipe you haven’t made before, baking a few dozen and shipping them out to your assigned bloggers. And, of course, the BEST part is that you also GET several dozens of cookies from bloggers around the web. DELICIOUS.
To make this year’s swap extra exciting here at A&C, we were thrilled that we got to make the cookies together on Carla’s trip to Ohio! We spent so many hours picking out packaging, selecting just the right recipe, baking and getting those cookies looking pretty and in the mail. (We even issued a butter warning to our swap partners!) The result of those hours?
Get ready for Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Shortbread Squares!
- 7 ounces butter
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- generous pinch of salt
- 10-12 oz good quality dark chocolate
- salt flakes (like Maldon)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- To make the shortbread: Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour, a bit at a time. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until combined. Press into a greased 8"x8" or 9"x9" pan. Bake 25 minutes until firm.
- To make the caramel: Place butter, brown sugar and honey into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar is melted and the ingredients are combined. Bring to a boil and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid any burning on the bottom of the pan. Beat in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla essence and a large pinch of salt. Pour filling onto the shortbread and bake for 20 minutes.
- To make the topping: Once shortbread/caramel combo is COMPLETELY cool, melt your chocolate in a double boiler. Pour and spread the melted chocolate over the filling. Wait until chocolate is cool, but not set (about 10 minutes) and sprinkle salt flakes on top.
We got some really creative cookies from other bloggers as well, and they were all wonderfully different from each other and from ours. Your Homebased Mom sent festive peppermint white chocolate cookie bark. EatDrinkCleveland sent us some citrusy limoncello biscotti. And Cheesy Pennies sent nutty maple pecan pie bars. Thanks to everyone for taking such care to wrap up their cookies – they all arrived fully intact and delicious!
For our packaging, we found great kraft cupcake boxes with a window on the top at Michael’s. We put the cookies in ziploc bags and cushioned them with lots of festive waxed baking paper. Then we added sparkly gold and silver washi tape to the boxes to make them a little glittery, since we have a minor glitter addiction over here at A&C. Lastly, we tied a little bit of metallic-laced baker’s twine around the boxes and added a cute kraft label. It was so much fun to prepare our packages for the Great Food Blogger Cookie swap, that we’ve already started coming up with ideas for next year!
Thanks to everyone who made is a great experience, especially the hosts: Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. And another special thank you to the sponsors: oxo, Dixie Crystals, Gold Medal Flour, and Grandma’s Molasses!