After having such a great time participating in my first Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and having a successful one-woman bake sale to support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer back in September, it was a no brainer to sign up again for the 2013 cookie swap. I love baking cookies, I love raising money for excellent causes, and I love receiving cookies from other bakers.
What’s funny is this year I played around with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (again!) and took some inspiration from Joy the Baker (again!). I had pinned Joy’s Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe ages ago, but decided that since I’ve been having so much fun making caramel corn from scratch, why not use that instead of buttered popcorn? It was an excellent decision.
Now, as a heads up, this recipe will yield more caramel corn than you need (about 5-6 oz more). I sent along packets of it to the bloggers I was assigned to send to through the swap, and you can do the same if you gift the cookies—who wouldn’t want a little packet of caramel corn to go with their cookies? If you’re not gifting these, just pack the caramel corn into an air tight container and enjoy in 2-4 days.
I received some really lovely cookies, ranging from lemon-scented thumb print cookies filled with homemade jam from Emily of West of the Loop, hot cocoa cookies from Sara of Sensibly Sara and eggnog cookies from Melissa from Red, White and Blueberries. But most importantly, the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap raised a total of $13,778.40 for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. We did something amazing.
Do you have a food blog and want to participate next year? Sign up here to receive notifications about when the 2014 swap will start to organize and do your part to share some cheer over the holidays and raise money to help some really wonderful kids. It’s good for the soul.
Make the caramel corn first. Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large dutch oven, combine the olive oil and popcorn kernels over medium high heat. Put the lid on, and pop, shaking the pot from time to time. When the popping stops, remove the popcorn from the heat.
Sort through the popcorn, removing the unpopped kernels. Return the popcorn to the dutch oven, and set aside.
To make the caramel, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the brown sugar and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Add the molasses, then turn the heat up and boil the caramel for 2-3 minutes until a deep amber.
Stir in the salt and vanilla, then add the baking soda, stirring until dissolved (the mixture will bubble up and lighten in color).
Pour the caramel over the popcorn in the dutch oven and stir to coat.
Pour the caramel corn onto the parchment paper, spread out, and place in the oven.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 15 minutes.
Once done baking, cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes before incorporating into the cookie dough.
Note: This will make about 8-9 oz of caramel corn. However, you only need 3 oz (about 2 heaping cups) for the cookies, so you will have extra.
For the cookie dough, heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and position the racks upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 large baking sheets with bakers silicone or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk and vanilla until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients gradually and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chopped dark chocolate and 3 oz (about 2 heaping cups) of caramel corn. Be gentle ... you don't want beat up the caramel corn too much.
Form about 1 tbsp of the dough into a rough ball. Do not flatten; if anything, make the ball a little taller than it is wide.
Bake until the cookies for 8-9 minutes, then rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom, baking for an additional 8-9 minutes. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets for a minute or two, then transfer them to cooling racks.