ORANGE & CARAMEL CINNAMON SWIRL (or CHOCOLATE SWIRL) CRUNCH COOKIES
1 box butter or yellow cake mix (with sugar or sugar-free)
1 stick (8 TB) melted butter.................................................................1 egg
yellow & red food coloring (about 2-3 drops each)
1/4 tsp. caramel extract (for caramel swirl).......................................1/4 tsp. orange extract
1/4 tsp. EACH cinnamon and nutmeg (for the Caramel Spice version)
1 tsp. caramel syrup or substitute chocolate syrup (with sugar or sugar-free)
1 heaping tsp. flour or 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (for chocolate version)
about 1 cup crispy rice cereal (i.e. Rice Krispies), divided in half use
about 1/4 cup vanilla canned frosting (not whipped) ~ with sugar or sugar-free
a quick sprinkle of cinnamon (for the Caramel Spice version)
(NOTE: you can substitute chocolate for the chocolate swirl, if you want)
Caramel flavored liquid coffee creamer (with sugar or sugar-free) ~ or substitute chocolate milk, brewed coffee or chocolate flavored liquid coffee creamer
1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (if desired, for chocolate swirl cookies)
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Put the cake mix, egg and melted butter into your mixer bowl and beat until it comes together (away from the sides of the bowl). Separate it into 2 equal balls and set one aside. To 1 ball, add the orange extract and the yellow & red food coloring. Mix until the color is blended and even ~ then add 1/2 cup rice cereal and mix just until the cereal is mixed in well.
Take the orange dough out of the mixer bowl, and put in the reserved dough. Add either the caramel or chocolate syrup, plus either the flour or unsweetened cocoa powder. (If you're make the Caramel Spice version, also add the cinnamon and nutmeg now.) Beat until everything is blended in well; then mix in the reserved 1/2 cup of rice cereal and mix it together.
Form each dough ball into a log on your counter and put them next to each other. Twist the log so it's a spiral design. Then, just ball that all together in your hands. Using a small cookie scoop (or about 1 heaping TB), make cookie balls (compacting them together in your hand) and put onto the cookie sheet. (They don't spread very much, so you can fit about 16 onto each large cookie sheet.) ** Using all of the dough, place ALL of the cookie balls onto both of the cookie sheets ~ so you can be sure they're all the same size and adjust the sizes of any that need it **
Bake for about 11-13 minutes, or until they're beginning to firm up on the top and just about to start browning on the bottom. Let the pan rest on a rack for a couple of minutes before removing the cookies to a rack or paper to glaze.
GLAZE: Put the canned frosting into a bowl (add the dash of cinnamon if you're doing the cinnamon swirl cookies ~ add the unsweetened cocoa powder if you want chocolate glaze for the chocolate swirl cookies). Gradually whisk in whatever liquid you're using with a small whisk, about 1 tsp. at a time, until it's a thinner smooth drizzle consistency. *** I drizzle this over the still-warm cookies. Sprinkles look pretty too, but remember that they are not sugar-free! **
Makes about 2 to 2-1/2 dozen. They also freeze and ship well.