Monday, April 14, 2014

dark chocolate sea salt caramel cookies

I went almost two weeks with NO sugar in my life (besides fruit). For a sugar-aholic like me, that was really hard. My original idea was to last the entire month of April but I am heading to Florida this week to visit friends and then Ireland the week after that. I like to enjoy my vacations and enjoy = indulge in my mind.

For the past two weeks, I cut out sugar, most dairy, grains, and alcohol. I pretty much only ate fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, beans, olives, and nuts. The plan I kind of followed is called Whole 30. I adjusted it here and there by putting a tiny sprinkle of goat cheese on my salads and eating some beans and dried fruit.

Other than that, I did really well and after two days I stopped craving ALL THE FOODS all day long. 

My favorite thing about the Whole 30 concept is that you just eat real food all the time. I don't know if I lost much weight but I felt amazing. I was waking up every day at 6am, wide awake and ready to go.

After two weeks, I was ready to treat myself so I made chocolate sea salt caramel cookies. I also made myself sick with over eating but it was worth it :). 

The cookies are amazing. I used the same base recipe as my favorite cookies and cream cookies and added in chopped dark chocolate and tiny pieces of Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel caramels, which added a nice, salty touch. If you can't find these caramels, any caramels will work and you can sprinkle the cookies with a tiny bit of sea salt to achieve the salty/sweet flavor.

dark chocolate sea salt caramel cookies (makes about 3 dozen)
-2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup butter (softened or left at room temp for a few hours)
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 large egg whites
-1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (I used 1/3 of a bar of 72% cacao dark chocolate but any type of chocolate or chocolate chips will work)

-about 8 caramel candies, chopped into small pieces (I used Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel caramels but any kind will work)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

3. Put sugars and butter in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined.  Add vanilla extract and egg whites and beat for another minute.  Add flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Lastly, mix in the chocolate.
4. Roll the dough into balls about 1"-1 /2" in diameter and press a small piece of caramel into the center. Put the cookies on baking sheets that have been 
lined with parchment paper (or coated with non-stick spray).  
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on pans for two minutes and then transfer them to wire racks or a plate in order to cool completely.  

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