1991 1st place: caramel pecan treasures

Yield: 60 Servings

Measure Ingredient
1 cup Butter, softened
¾ cup Lightly packed light
\N \N Brown sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1¾ cup All-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Baking powder
12 ounces Semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Vegetable shortening
\N \N 25 to 30 caramels, cut in
\N \N Half, rolled into balls
\N \N Finely chopped pecans

Preparation time: 50 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes 1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Have ungreased baking sheets ready.

2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until well-mixed. Stir in flour and baking powder. (If kitchen is warm, refrigerate dough for a few minutes; dough should be firm enough to roll easily.) Shape scant teaspoonsful of dough into balls about the size of a marble. Place on baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Flatten slightly.

3. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

4. Melt chocolate chips with shortening in top of double boiler set over simmering water. Remove from heat.

5. Flatten caramel halves so they are the same diameter as the cookie. Put one caramel half on top of each cookie. (If necessary, use a dab of chocolate as "glue" to help caramel adhere to cookie.) Using a small metal spatula, spread melted chocolate thinly over top and sides of caramel and cookie to cover. Press chopped pecans onto tops of cookies. Let stand on a wire rack until chocolate firms (refrigerate if desired), about 20 minutes. Put into individual paper wrappers. Store in a cookie tin with a piece of wax paper between each layer.

The first-place winner of the Tribune's 1991 Holiday Cookie Contest is Elaine Rysner. She prefers to make the cookies small - about the diameter of a quarter. Use high-quality caramels and chocolate for the best cookies. from the Chicago Tribune fourth annual Food Guide Holiday Cookie Contest December 5, 1991

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