Cookies, cookies, and some more cookies

It's national cookie month. No, it's not, that's actually October. But I have no idea why it's not December! There has to be more cookies made and consumed in the month of December than all of the other months combined. At least that's how it goes in my house. I've been working hard in the kitchen these past couple of weeks to make up some delicious cookies to give out as gifts. Also, I have a policy that for every cookie I give away, I get to eat one as well. It's doing wonders for my waistline...

This year I made an assortment of treats -- Polka Dot Merigues which are my father's favorite and surprisingly not that difficult to make (even though meringue gets a bad rap.) Shortbread Bites, which are my personal favorite, they are so simple and so buttery. And lastly, I added Oatmeal Caramel Bars to my repertoire this season. I brought them to a party and they were a huge hit, so I whipped up some more to share with others. Get all the recipes and see more photos below. 

I like to think that my grandma made up this recipe, but that's probably not true. What I do know is that she made them, and her nickname was Dot (short for Dorothy) so they always remind me of her, and my papa of course. 
Polka Dot Meringue Cookies
(makes 24 cookies)

2 egg whites 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 cup sugar 
1/4 tsp vanilla 
2 cups corn flakes (crumbled by hand) 
1 cup semi-sweet morsels 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 

Add salt and egg whites to a large mixing bowl and beat until frothy. Add sugar (about 2 Tbs at a time) and continue to beat until very thick. Beat in vanilla. Fold in cornflakes and 2/3 of the chocolate morsals. Drop by teaspoon on parchment paper. Top each meringue with 3 or 4 chocolate morsals. 

Bake for 20 minutes until cookies are stiff. Remove parchment paper from the cookie sheet to cool. 

Shortbread Bites
(Adapted from Good Housekeeping - makes approximately 50 bites)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon(s) sugar
1/2 cup salted butter (no substitutions), cold, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon red and green nonpareils

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In food processor, pulse flour and sugar until combined. Add butter and pulse until dough begins to come together. Place dough in medium bowl. With hand, gently knead in nonpareilsuntil evenly blended and dough forms a ball.

On parchment paper, pat dough into 8" by 5" rectangle; freeze 15 minutes. 

Cut dough into 1/2-inch squares. Place squares, 1/2 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake cookies 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. 

Remove parchment paper from cookie sheet to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. 

Caramel Oatmeal Bars
(Adapted from Amandeleine - makes approximately 24 bars)

3 cups old-fashioned oats
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter (one salted, on unsalted), cut into small pieces
2 10 oz. jars of Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce
1 cup Trade Joe's bittersweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9″x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix in butter, using a fork or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press half of mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan. 

Bake until just set and starting to brown around the edges (about 20 minutes). Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle partially baked crust with chocolate chunks. Drizzle caramel sauce over chips and crust. Top with remaining crumb mixture and lightly press into the caramel. 

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars, otherwise caramel will ooze out of the bars.

If you're not in a total cookie coma yet, you should wash it down with a little Coquito. For the full recipe, see: A very merry coquito factory

What kinds of cookies or treats do you always make for the holidays? Any recipes that I must try for next year? 

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