Whether you’re ready for it or not, the holiday gift-giving and cookie-baking season is about to begin. Although I love the old cookie standards (peanut butter blossoms, spritz, Mexican snowdrops), I’ve been in the mood for something a little outside of the box. I came across this recipe from A Beautiful Mess (see also this one from King Arthur Flour for a variation) for homemade Twix bars. Here’s my take on ABM’s recipe, with some alterations, plus an easy way to wrap cookies to give as gifts.
- 2 packages of Walkers shortbread cookies (or a similarly shaped shortbread)
- 11 oz of soft caramels (not, for instance, hard caramels like Werther’s)
- 18 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 TBS milk
- 1 TBS canola oil
- Wax paper
- 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking pan
- 1 cooling rack
Step 1: Line baking pan with wax paper and spray liberally with Pam. Arrange cookies to fit, with as much room in between each cookie as possible (this will make it easier to cut them apart later on).
Step 2: Combine caramels and milk in pot and melt over medium-low heat, mixing frequently so that you don’t accidentally burn the caramel. Pour over cookies, using a spatula to spread caramel evenly over every cookie. Let harden (allow for a couple hours).
Step 3: After caramel is hardened, upend caramel-covered cookies onto a cutting board or wax paper surface. Cut cookies apart, and trim any excess caramel that’s hanging off the sides. Don’t worry too much if the cookies crack on one side–the caramel on the other side will hold it together.
Step 4: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and oil. (Below I used a deep, narrow measuring glass–this was a mistake. Use a shallow, wide container–it will make dipping the cookies much easier later on.) Microwave at 20 second intervals, stopping to mix the chocolate well so that it melts evenly without burning. Don’t over-melt chocolate–it should still be very thick. Over-melting will make it harder to pry the cookie off the cooling rack. If you do over-melt, let the chocolate sit for a few minutes until it thickens back up.
Step 5: Before you begin using the chocolate, have a Pam-sprayed cooling rack nearby. Dunk each cookie individually in the chocolate, coating it completely on every side. Don’t even try to be clean when doing this–your hands will end up covered in chocolate. Enjoy it!
Step 6: Place each cookie on the cooling rack. You’ll end up with more chocolate than you need, but this will make it easier to completely cover each cookie without having to scrape the bowl. Place wax paper or newspaper underneath the rack so that you don’t have to wipe up the dripped chocolate later on. Allow chocolate to harden on the rack for three or four hours (yes, it takes a long time). Then pry bars off rack and transfer to plate and place in the fridge for another hour. Cookies should be stored in the fridge.
These were pretty good. I would say don’t eat them right out of the fridge–the caramel is pretty hard and crunchy. If you let them sit out for an hour, they’ll soften up and be more Twix-like, but the caramel is still very chewy. Next time I make these, I’ll add 3 TBS (instead of 1) of milk or cream to the caramel (as the King Arthur recipe I mentioned earlier in this post directs), to try and make the caramel softer.
Step 7: If you want to make these bars into giftables, you can easily (and cheaply) wrap and decorate them. I placed three bars on top of a square of cellophane (from Michael’s). Then I lifted up each corner and brought them together above the bars. I used a thin rubber band to secure the bunching. Then I wrapped a ribbon around the rubber band several times to hide it, and tied it in a bow (you could also just make a knot and curl the ribbon with a pair of scissors. Finally, I added a festive gift tag. If you don’t want to buy gift tags (they’re kind of pricey), you could glue holiday wrapping paper to a piece of tag board, then cut out a shape like a star, punch a hole in the top and thread twine through it, and use that as a gift tag. Pretty, simple, and delicious!
Happy start to the holiday season, y’all!