Sunday, July 31, 2016

Please Meet The Newest Award-Winning Cookie: Salted Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars

Fair week has just wrapped up for us and it was a big, BIG week!!

How big?? you might ask... 

Very big...  the week was very big and so exciting.

I will do a post tomorrow highlighting all the gorgeous details of our  
grand Ohio State Fair...which is still going on (now through August 7, 2016)
  and some of our local fair fun...

This fair season, 
I was lucky enough to walk away with a new handful 
of prize-winning entries and a shiny new collection of blue ribbons...

The competitions were fun, and full of
 very excellent baked goods... 
It's wonderful to have a tough competition.

It really is...

 While that might seem like a strange thing to say...
 having to really earn your ribbon
 means so much more when every class is
 filled with top-notch, high quality entries.  


Good competition makes everyone better.
(I think this is true across the board, in any competition)

For me, great competitions start and end with
amazing baked goods and as a result
 the talent grows each year...
 Entries get more creative, the depth of each class increases
and the technical know-how of each class soars,
...making it a very well-earned blue ribbon.

Winning is fun, but winning in a class of technically sound, 
absolutely stunning's just a little sweeter.

...So, before I get to perhaps my biggest news of all... 
we have to back up to two weekends ago...
I must set the stage so you can imagine 
just how scatter-brained I was...

I had the pleasure of co-hosting my 25th class reunion... 
Our fabulous planning committee put on and hosted a
 fun-filled walk down memory lane and 
a silent auction for a wonderful non-profit,
created by one of our classmates.

Twenty-five y e a r s,
two and one-half decades ago...whew!!...

Can you even believe it??

I cannot believe it's even possible that I might have
 graduated from high school 25 years ago...
 I just can't.  

25 years sound like a long time ago...
but it sure does not feel like it.

It was a busy...busy weekend, 
leading up to the reunion, during and after.

In the hustle and bustle of the reunion madness, 
I had to pull together my early entries for the Ohio State Fair.

A couple of dear friends, 
Art and Terri, offered to take my entries up to the fair for me 
-- which was such a gift, it's almost a two hour drive...

Have you ever been so busy and so 
scattered you kept forgetting simple things??  

Me too.

I was doing a lot of forgetting...

First of all, I held off on baking until the last minute... 

It was strategy.

  If my baked goods had to be in a holding pattern for a day or two...
 (like every one's entries) 
I needed my cookies to be as fresh as possible. 
 So it probably did not help one bit that I was hurrying 
to put on the all-important finishing touches...
at the last possible moment.

In the world of baking competitions,
There is a fine line between winning strategy and disaster.

Before I knew it, it was time to meet my friends for the hand off...

I went to meet them and realized as I was pulling in....
I had left all my fair tags on the counter... 
Who does that??  

I was so preoccupied with getting the recipes printed
 and making sure everything was just so... 
that I completely forgot the tags...
 no tags, no entry...

As luck would have it, my friends needed to retype one of their very own recipes... 
giving me just enough time to run home and collect my forgotten tags...

I collected my tags...zipped to our new drop-off location and
 then realized I had left the all-important and qualifying UPC label at home...

How could this be??

I told Terri, 
"Please...Let's leave those cookies out.... 
They are not that important..."

As it turns out, I could not have been more wrong.

Terri insisted we run to a nearby grocery and pick up a new UPC label... 
I truly wanted them to get on the road, 
I felt terribly that they were already leaving later than planned...

Terri insisted we stop for the UPC... and so we did.

Terri and Art saved the day, they should receive a
 blue ribbon for patience and friendship.

About the cookies I suggested we leave behind...
  those little 'ol things??

Those cookies are the 
 proud first place winners in the 2016 Gold Medal Cookie Contest...

Another thing that helps these
"Salted Caramel Pecan Turtle" bar cookies...
they taste better the next day.  
At least I think so...
So they were really at their peak when the judging took place... 
which was a happy coincidence.

Lucky me... lucky judges!

Here's the recipe:

and one more time...

2016 Gold Medal Flour Cookie Contest
Karri Perry, 1st place, 2016 Ohio State Fair

Salted Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars

2 ¼ cups Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 ½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup corn syrup, light
12 ounces chopped pecans
¾ cup milk chocolate chips

Caramel icing:
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or to taste)

For Crust:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.  In a food processor, cream the butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix.  Add in flour mixture.  Pulse until just combined.  Spread dough into a parchment lined 9x13-inch rimmed baking sheet with spatula.  Even out the dough by hand, using a light dusting of flour on hands or dough.  Bake for 12 minutes on middle rack of oven.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips overtop of hot crust, spreading evenly.  Let sit while making the filling.

For Filling:  On the stove top in a heavy saucepan, add the butter, brown sugar and light corn syrup.  Over medium heat, melt and let boil for three minutes.  Add heavy cream. Stir and turn off heat.  Mix in chopped pecans.  Pour mixture over crust and chocolate chips, spreading evenly.  Return to oven and bake 22-25 minutes.  Allow to cool.

For Caramel icing:  Heat butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Let boil for two minutes.  Add in heavy cream and vanilla.  Stir and turn off heat.  When mixture has cooled slightly, add in powdered sugar, stirring in one tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.  Drizzle warm caramel icing onto the cooled cookie bars.  Sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt.  Cool, cut and serve.

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Start to Finish: 1 hour 15 minutes

Makes: 30

Thank you to Gold Medal Flour, 
the Ohio State Fair, 
WBNS Channel 10 in Columbus and my 
dear friends Terri and Art.

This morning I drove up to do a recipe segment on the 
CBS Channel 10, WBNS in Columbus.  It was an early morning!!

So gorgeous, but so early...

These cookies are a merging of two of our family's favorites, 
pecan pie and more specifically pecan pie cookie bars
 and our love of the
ever popular chocolate caramel turtle...

It's a win-win cookie...the best...
really, the very best of two 
truly decadent and delicious desserts!!

Try them... you'll be happy you did!!

Here's a clip of my recipe segment:
WBNS 10TV Salted Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars

Visit Gold Medal Flour for more 
amazing award-winning recipes!!

I can hardly wait to share more of our fun
adventures at the fair... stay tuned.!!