Monday, December 21, 2015

Salted Dark Chocolate Turtle Bars and Frame Cookies


Calling all procrastinators!  I have one easy and delicious recipe and one recipe for those of you who love to be creative.

These wonderful Salted Dark Chocolate Turtle Bars was the second place winner in last year's cookie contest sponsored by our local newspaper.  If you love dark chocolate, caramel and pecans as I do, I can promise you will love them. A little sprinkle of sea salt on top makes them especially delightful. 


Need a last minute gift idea made from your loving hands? For my bars, I prepared them in a set of 4-1/2 inch non-stick tart pans so that I could make each slice just a bite or two since they are rich.  After chilling, they were simple to cut each round into 8 slices with a butcher knife. The recipe makes enough to fill all six mini tart pans or, as the recipe calls for, a 17 x 11 baking pan, cut into squares.


The second new recipe I made this year was featured in last year's holiday issue of Midwest Living magazine featuring Scandinavian recipes.  They are cardamom rye cookies with royal icing piped into a square, leaving a frame around the outside and then painted with paste food coloring and edible gold dust diluted with vodka.  These cookies also taste great plain.


My painting skills are definitely rusty but they were fun to make and enjoyed by my husband and grandsons.


Both would be delicious with peppermint tea in the afternoon.  An idea shared by my friend, Monique, at La Table de Nana...just add a peppermint stick to your favorite tea.  Delicious and perfect for Christmas!


We enjoyed having our grandsons for the day yesterday and, since it was in the upper 40s here, we took them for a hike in a nearby park.  So hard to get these two to smile for the camera at the same time :) As you can see, no snow here so it will be a green Christmas.


May those of you who celebrate, have a warm and wonderful Christmas!   Thank you for all of your support.  Love and happiness to you!♥

Salted Dark Chocolate Turtle Bars

Printable Recipe

I halved this recipe which filled 6 mini tart pans.

Crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon salt

Toppings:

2 ¼ cups pecan halves, very coarsely chopped
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Coarse sparkly sugar (optional) for sprinkling over bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 17-by-11-inch baking pan with foil for easy removal and cutting of bars.

Combine crust ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until blended. Mixture will be dry and crumbly. Pat mixture firmly into the ungreased, foil-lined pan.

For second layer, arrange pecans evenly over crust in a single layer.

For third layer, combine the 1¼ cups butter and 1 cup brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over pecans. Bake in preheated oven 15 to 18 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate morsels. Let stand 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly melted. With a light touch, gently swirl chocolate with a knife, leaving some of the morsels whole (do not spread).

Sprinkle evenly with coarse sea salt.

Sprinkle with decorative coarse sugar, if desired.

Let cool completely on wire rack. Chill about 30 minutes in the refrigerator to set chocolate. This makes the bars easier to cut. Cut into small bars, as these cookies are quite rich.

My Notes: I made 1/2 recipe and filled 6 4-1/2 inch mini tart pans with crust and filling. Chilled in the refrigerator and cut into each pieces per tart pan.port in the past year.  Health and happiness to you all would be my gift for the New Year.

Adapted from Sue Shannon and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Cookie Contest

Painted Frame Cookies


Printable Recipe


1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
2 -3 tablespoons cold water

One recipe Royal Icing

Paste Food Colors
Edible Gold Dust

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, salt, cardamom and cinnamon and beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in the flours with mixer on low speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing mixture with a fork, until dough is moistened. Gently knead dough with hands to form a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into desired shapes. (For picture frames, use a 3- or 4-inch square cutter or cut squares freehand using a fluted pastry wheel. For elves, divide dough in half, then roll into an 8-inch circle and cut into 12 wedges.) Re-roll scraps as necessary. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Pierce all over with a fork.

Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are firm and begin to brown on the edges. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to prepared Royal Icing until it's the consistency of pancake batter.

Food Coloring Paint: In a very small bowl or custard cup, mix 1 teaspoon food coloring and 1 teaspoon vodka or water until smooth and thin enough to paint. If mixture thickens while painting, stir in a little more vodka or water. Vodka works better for painting on Royal Icing because it dries quickly. However, water will work if you don't have vodka on hand.

Gold Luster Paint: In a very small bowl or custard cup, mix 1 teaspoons vodka or water and 1 teaspoon edible gold luster dust until smooth and thin enough to paint. If mixture thickens while painting, stir in a little more vodka or water.

Store un-frosted cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or label and freeze up to 3 months.

Royal Icing

4 cups powdered sugar (16 ounces)
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 drops glycerin for shine (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, beat powdered sugar, meringue powder, cream of tartar, the water and vanilla with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture is very stiff. Stir in more warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches desired consistency. (If the icing ever gets too runny, just add powdered sugar.) If not using immediately, cover bowl with a damp paper towel and then with plastic wrap. Icing can be chilled for up to 48 hours. Makes 3 cups.
For the paste food color and edible gold dust, mix 1 teaspoon with 1 teaspoon vodka (or water).

69 comments:

  1. wow those frame cookies are absolutely stunning, Susan, and I love esp. the painting you did..so gorgeous!
    Have a wonderful holiday season!
    Angie

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    1. Thank you, Angie! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  2. Your painted cookies are beautiful Susan! Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    Oh, and Go Packers:@)

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    1. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Lynn! Thank you :)

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  3. love these! The frame cookies are such a great idea!

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    1. They are fun to make too! Thank you, Dom and Happy Holidays to you and the Viking!

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  4. Delicious! My procrastination has to end since there are only three more baking days...and wrapping, last-minute shopping, etc.. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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    1. Some people just need to feel the fire first :) Thank you, Bonnie and Merry Christmas to you and The Baker!

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  5. Salted Dark Chocolate? I'm in! Your cookies are beautiful as well. Those grandsons are SO cute, love the photo. Looks like a beautiful park, too. Have a wonderful Christmas! Enjoy those sweet boys!

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    1. Me too :) Thank you, Julie! It is a very beautiful park with lots of hiking trails and only 5 minutes from here. We love it! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  6. They are adorable..and very very true to Scandinavian decor!
    I love the idea of the ind tart pans..makes for cute little bites..We never arrived at J's mom's for Christmas w/out Turtles;)

    That's a wonderful shot of the boys..I can tell how much they LOVE you.
    A photo often shows feelings too♥
    Daneyousofunny:)

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    1. I think the Scandinavian part definitely drew me in :) I loved getting turtles for Christmas when I was a teenager. They are both comics these days and also love to talk about certain body sounds - LOL. Thank you, Monique! Merry Christmas to you and your dear family!

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  7. I can see how a plateful of these cookies would disappear in a flash. Your painted cookies are just beautiful! And I love your china pattern with the holly too. May you have a joyous Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.

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    1. Thank you, Linda and thank you for your support and friendship. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you also.

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  8. I adore dark chocolate - what a beautiful gift you've made. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your adorable family.
    Sam

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    1. Me too :) Thank you so much, Sam and a very Merry Christmas to you and Meakin, Sam!

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  9. Absolutely beautiful Susan!!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New year dear!!
    xoxoxox

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    1. Thank you, Gloria! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in the Southern Hemisphere ;) xo

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    2. Thanks dear! I love boy's faces ! are cute!!!

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  10. I think I could handle a sampling of both especially the turtle bars. They all look and sound wonderful.
    Your grandsons are growing up fast.
    Wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas.

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    1. I love the turtle bars! Thank you so much, Glenda, for your support and a very Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year to you!

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  11. Both of these treats are wonderful, but the artwork on the Scandinavian cookies is awesome! Have a wonderful holiday <3

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    1. Thank you, Sue! I had fun painting those! I think older kids would love to paint them too. Maybe next year for my grandsons :) Thanks for all of your support, Sue, and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  12. I wish you and your lovely family a very Merry Christmas full of love and happyness; a warm hug & and kisses from Italy

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    1. Thank you, Dear Chiara! Kisses and hugs across the Atlantic to you as well and I hope you have a lovely Italian Christmas holiday. xo

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  13. Your turtle bars sound delightful! Those picture frame cookies are precious! I'll have fun making those and with some creativity I can make them for any occasion!

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    1. They would be great for other holidays and birthdays too, Vicki! Thank you so much for your support and Happy Holidays to you!

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  14. What a lovely gift either of these would make but I have my eye on those turtle bars, right up my alley. Your grandsons are cuties, how fun to be able to get out and enjoy the winter with them. It's funny, it seemed when I was growing up in Wisconsin that every Christmas was a white Christmas but I hear that lots of them are not these days.

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    1. Thanks so much, Chris! It's been two years since we've had a white Christmas, Chris! Last year we got snow right afterward and maybe we will this year also as I see a possible rain/snow mix predicted for the 29th. Probably just as well for all of the last-minute shoppers out there ;) Merry Christmas to you and Scott!

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  15. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Love these turtle cookies but your frame cookies are gorgeous! Your grandsons and adorable too - and sorry about the snow. We will have record high's tomorrow in the upper 70's so it doesn't feel like Christmas much less winter. Thank you for your support and friendship. All the best for a wonderful 2016!

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    1. 58 is the forecast here today. Wow 70s? Thanks so much, Tricia, for your kind support also. Merry Christmas to you and your growing family too :)

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  16. What fun recipes! That first one definitely has my name on it. Love those boys! What fun you must have had. I hope you have a great holiday, but I know you will, judging from these photos! Wishing you a great year, Susan!

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    1. They are so much fun, Tricia and the boys are getting more fun as they get older too. Thanks so much, Abbe, and a Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your family!

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  17. I am a mega procrastinator! This looks great!

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    1. You're still a working girl, you are excused :) Thank you, Cathleen, and Merry Christmas!

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  18. Both cookies look delicious, Susan! I make traditional cookies every Christmas but like to add on a new one every so often and will try one of these in the new year. Your grandsons look very playful-- and I know they bring you much joy!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and Happy 2016!

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    1. Thank you, Pat! Glad to hear you're doing better and that your eye surgery went well! Merry Christmas to you, Vinnie and family in Colorado!

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  19. What beautiful cookies, Susan. And I so like the way you've wrapped them.
    And the boys are adorable :-) Happy holidays.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Thank you, Amalia Dear! Happy Holidays to you and Happy New Year!

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  20. If I didn't already have enough sugar in my body, I would make these ;o) I'll save it for next year. Merry Christmas!

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    1. I know, me too :) I'm already saving ideas for next year since I just can't have any more goodies in the house. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Debbie!

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  21. Your cookies are beautiful, Susan. I think I will have to make your turtle bars for New Year's Eve. That's a cookie I just can't pass up. Merry Christmas to you and your family and best wishes for a healthy and Happy New Year.

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    1. Thanks so much, Cathy! The very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

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  22. These look amazing! We made something very similar and everyone goes bonkers for them. We wish you and your beautiful family a wonderful Christmas and a healthy new year. Most of all, we thank you for your support and friendship! Xoxo Anna and Liz

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    1. I love a good 'going bonkers' recipe :) Thanks so much, Anna and Liz! Best holiday wishes to you both!

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  23. Two gem recipes, Susan. Love your cookie painting....I can't draw a stick figure, not kidding. I'm drooling over the turtle bars, definitely will make those at some point in the next few months. I prefer the wedge shape, don't you? Prettier and dressier.
    Love the photos of your grands....
    Wishing you and yours the happiest of Christmases, filled with family, love and great food. And a Happy New Year for all of us!

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    1. Thank you, Barbara! I love the wedge shape too and I think I'll try to make more cookie recipes this way in the future. The very best wishes to you and your family for a delicious and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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  24. Those turtle bars are calling my name. I really like the idea of using the little tart pans. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you, Karen! We had a great Christmas and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas also.

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  25. Merry Christmas to you, your family and these irresistibly cuties, your grandsons! These bars are irresistible too!

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    1. Thank you so much, Katerina! A very Happy New Year to you also!

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  26. Sorry for the belated Xmas wishes due to ongoing internet problems here! These cookies and the entire presentation are first class. I really feel like I am reading and enjoying the food blogger's version of Architectural digest here. Have a wonderful holiday season with grandkids and family Susan! They are lucky to have you!

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear you are having internet problems, Joumana. Thank you so much for finding you way here and for your lovely wishes. So much appreciated!

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  27. Lovely turtle bars and the frame cookies are beautiful! Your grandsons are very cute! Merry Christmas to you and your family! Happy New Year!

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  28. What a beautiful post, and it's so fun to have watched those 2 (not as little now) boys growing up! I'm sure you had a wonderful Christmas. Are you going to throw a New Year's Eve Party? We will be at our daughter's home for a family party. I'm loving that the next generation has taken over and I get to show up with something to share! Happy New Year...

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    1. That's so sweet, Renee, and Thank You! We are invited to friends for their annual New Year's Eve party and I'm bringing dessert :) I still make Thanksgiving dinner but it's great to not to have to make Christmas dinner the past few years so that torch has passed.

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  29. The photo of the kiddos is priceless.
    Such beautiful Painted Frame Cookies - thanks for the recipe.

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  30. The cookies all look so yummy, and beautiful too. How wonderful to be able to get out with the boys. Yes, our little boys don't like to take pictures either, unless showing off. We had tons of snow Christmas Day. My oldest son measured 11 inches on his walk that he had to shovel, so we definitely had a white Christmas.

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  31. this look wonderful, and love the picture of your grandsons his expression reminds me of my boy

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  32. Any recipe with the word "turtle" in it grabs my immediate attention! Great recipe and lovely gift packaging! I love your Lenox Holiday china that you used in your photos. I have enjoyed mine as well, it is such a beautiful classic pattern! Wishing you a most beautiful and happy new year of 2016 Susan!
    Roz

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  33. What a gorgeous photo of your grandchildren! Thank you for this recipe for Turtle Bars. I have my daughter's 21st birthday party on 16th January and have been looking for something extra for the dessert table...this is it! Beautiful blog!

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  34. How did you ever think to add vodka to icing?? That really caught my eye!! The cookies are decorated to perfection and look so tasty!! Happy New Year

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  35. The turtle bars look so classy while the cookies look so cute and adorable! Happy New Year to you and your family Susan! I'm so happy to have known you in 2015 :) Have an amazing 2016 ahead!

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  36. How did you know?? Turtles are one of my favorite things in the world -- even better with salt. I can't wait to try to cheer me up... it certainly can't hurt.

    Hope you have a great 2016!

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  37. These are some very impressive treats! They look and sound so special. And look how your grandsons are growing! So cute :)

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  38. Hi Susan, the frame cookies are like artwork, beautiful, love the turtles too, one of my favorites. My grandsons are 10 and 6 somewhere around the ages of yours, we always have so much fun, more fun without the parents.

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