A Tribute to New Zealand

When I think about my brief trip to New Zealand 14 years ago, there’s one thing that always comes to mind. If you’re guessing that it’s the beautiful countryside, the lovely beaches or the warm and outgoing people – you’d be wrong. When I dream about New Zealand, I dream about the rolo bar.

If you’ve never heard of it—you’re not alone. Few of us here in Canada have tried one. But if you had, you’d be right there with me. Forever yearning for the rolo bar.

Picture an oversized chocolate bar, in a similar format to a Caramilk, but made with rolos that are joined together on the flat-bottomed side. You’ll have to trust me on this one—the rolo bar is quite spectacular.

So, when my friend Jayne and I found this Rolo Cookie recipe online nine years ago, I didn’t have to think twice before giving it a try. It is a close as you can come to the rolo bar. And, my friends and family who don’t know what they are missing seem to love them. I must admit, they are pretty darn good.

As you’ll see from the pictures below, it is a good recipe for little helpers in the kitchen.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Rolo Cookies

  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • about 7 packages of rolos
  • Granulated sugar for top or mixture of 1 cup chopped nuts with 1 tbsp sugar

Beat sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat well. Add flour and baking soda. Blend well. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Roll 1 heaping tsp of dough in palm of hand to form a ball. Press Rolo into ball covering it completely. Press top of ball into saucer of sugar (or nut and sugar mixture). Place cookies, sugar side up, on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 9-10 minutes.

TIPS:

  • Make sure the rolo is completely covered by dough, otherwise the chocolate and caramel will leak out onto the pan. It’s not the end of the world, but they the cookies look nice when you can’t see the rolo that is hiding inside.
  • Plan to make these cookies first if you are making other cookies, so that you can refrigerate the dough while you move onto another cookie. We’ve made the mistake of making these at the end of a day of baking, and then had bake them another day because we forgot about the 3 hours to chill the dough!

Seven Pounds: Will It Be Enough?

Cookies, cookies, cookies

It was on sale. So I bought lots. Well, seven pounds to be precise.

Was it enough to make this?

Butter sculpture of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reading a Margaret Atwood book, while leaning on a steering wheel, which was on display at this year’s Canadian National Exhibition (Source: Torstar News Service)

No, definitely not enough to make a butter carving of Toronto’s controversial Mayor, Rob Ford, (who BTW may soon be outsted from his position over a conflict of interest, not for reading while driving or slinging mud at our literary legend Margaret Atwood).

But it was enough butter to make some of these:

SONY DSC

I took a couple of days off work so that I could get a good start at my holiday baking this weekend, so some of the seven pounds of butter that I bought on sale has been put to good use. Every year, I bake 10 to 15 different batches of cookies and then I give most of them away to friends, family and work colleagues. It is firmly entrenched Christmas tradition, as I’ve been doing this for 11 years now.

However, not everyone likes this tradition. My youngest ponytail burst into tears when she realized that most of her favourite Chocolate-Dipped Butterscotch Logs were headed to the freezer to make their way into these cookie boxes. “But they’re my favourite cookies.” (Be sure to say this with a very loud crying voice, and you are close to reinacting the dramatic scene that unfolded in my kitchen on Sunday.)

SONY DSC

My youngest ponytail’s beloved Chocolate-Dipped Butterscotch Logs

The art of distraction is a parent’s best friend and I’ve managed to distract my daughter with store-bought candy cane ice cream–even if only temporarily.

I love the fact that everyone has a different favourite cookie. Rhonda requests the Rolo Cookie every year. A big fan of coconut, Maria hides the Coconut Pyramids from her partner. Harry will only eat my Checkerboard Cookies, which always stir a debate on how the checkerboard pattern is really created. Mercedes likes to ask for extra Salted Toffee-Chocolate Squares. My Double-Chocolate Chunk Cookies have universal appeal. And, Glen is easy to please–he’ll take any and all cookies that I’m willing to part with.

SONY DSC

Salted Toffee-Chocolate Squares

This year I’ve added two new cookies to the mix thanks to a couple of my blogging buddies.

Nell’s Sugar Cookies (the pretty cookies with the cherry in the middle) are thanks to Barb over at Just a Smidgen (one of my favourite bloggers who, by the way, has received two 2012 Canadian Blog Awards. Way to go Barb!) I knew that I had to make these cookies when Barb posted them a few months back. Simple, with a comforting old fashioned appeal, one bite of these cookies takes me back to my own grandmother’s kitchen. They are sure to be a new favourite this year.

I’ve been wanting to make Chocolate Crinkle Kisses (the adorable crinkle cookies with the Candy Cane Kiss in the middle) for ages now. These cookies make an annual appearance in the wonderful box of cookies that Eva (of Kitchen Inspirations) always brings us on Christmas Eve and I’m never fast enough at hiding them from the rest of the family! As you can see, both of these cookies bring some festive colour to the cookie selection.

SONY DSC

Left to right on large platter: Eva’s Chocolate Crinkle Kisses, Coconut Pyramids, Smidge’s Grandma Nell’s Sugar Cookies and Salted Toffee-Chocolate Squares

So now the question remains, will the seven pounds be enough? Not nearly, if my ponytails get their way!

PS — Given that well over three quarters of my cookies go to treasured daycare staff and work colleagues as a way to say thanks, I’m not able to give cookies to as many of our friends and family as I would like. However, I always keep a supply on hand to put out for company so feel free to drop by for a visit–just be sure to call first!

Cookie Recipes (from Photos)

Salted Toffee-Chocolate Squares (Martha Stewart)

Nell’s Sugar Cookies (Just a Smidgen)

Chocolate Crinkle Kisses (Kitchen Inspirations)

Coconut Pyramids (Originally from Martha Stewart; posted on P&P December 2011)

Chocolate-Dipped Butterscotch Logs

Slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, 2004 Special Christmas Cookie Edition

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup butter scotch baking pieces, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocloate pieces
  • 1-1/2 tbsp shortening

In a large bowl, beat butter on medium high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour and the butterscotch pieces.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 9-inch long log; flatten so logs are about 2-1/2-inches wide. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack; cool.

Meanwhile, spread almonds in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Toast in the 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring ocassionally. Remove from oven; cool.

Combine chocolate pieces and shortening in metal bowl. Place over simmering pot of water until melted. Dip ends of cookies into the melted chocolate. Place cookies on wire rack. Sprinkle almonds on chocolate. Let stand for 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. Makes about 54.