Excerpted from Daniel Whalen’s Tots!, on sale now!
Welcome to the wonderful world of tots! Tots are something we all grew up with, and they are making a comeback in an awesome way. When I started doing research to write this book, I discovered more and more restaurants cooking with tots, from fine-dining establishments making homemade tots with beef bacon, to hole-in-the-wall joints serving trashy loaded tots. There are a few restaurants near where I live in Boston that even specialize in these little balls of potato magic, devoting a whole section of their menus to varieties of totchos.
After my in-depth tot sleuthing, intense research, and varied samplings, I set out to write recipes that don’t simply retread the same old flavors. We all know that tots taste good with cheese, and although this book does include many tasty variations on that theme, I really tried to push myself off the beaten path to develop new and unique ideas for tots. So that’s why in addition to the perhaps more familiar Totchos and Loaded Tots, you’ll also find the Korean-inflected Bibimtot, Shepherd’s Pie with a Totty Top, and even desserts like Salted Caramel Tot Cookies (see recipe below!). If it tastes good with a tot, you’ll find it here.
I always consider my recipes to be springboards for inspiration, so don’t feel like you need to follow them precisely. If you do, these recipes are all well tested and will come out great, but if you want to swap out flavors and make them your own, more power to you! There are even a few pages dedicated just to inspiration and alternative tot twists.
Before we get into the main recipes though, we’ll dive into some Tots 101 (see page 3). The world of tots is vast and varied, so read on for some tips, tricks, and foundational recipes to get you started.
Salted Caramel Tot Cookies
When you hand someone a tot cookie and tell them what it is, they might think they misheard you. You can actually see them puzzling over it. “What did you say?” they might ask. “A tot cookie,” you will reply. They might be hesitant to try it. After the first bite though, their hesitation will melt away and they will come back for more. These tot cookies are amazing: crunchy, chewy, salty, and sweet.
- Nonstick cooking spray, for coating the baking sheet
- 20 frozen tots
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup caramel bits (or chopped caramels)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place the tots in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high, pausing occasionally to stir, until defrosted, about 2 minutes. Mash up the tots until they are fully broken up.
- Spread the tot pieces onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until all the tot bits are browned up and very crispy, about 25 minutes total. (Make sure to break up any bigger chunks each time you stir.) Transfer to a plate and let cool.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Beat the butter and sugars together in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until the mixture lightens in color and is fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.
- Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until combined.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in the caramel, chocolate, and tot pieces until combined.
- Scoop the dough in heaping tablespoon portions onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart.
- Bake until the cookies are pale golden all over and crispy at the edges (they will be chewy and delicious in the centers), about 12 minutes.
Salted Caramel Tot Cookies will keep, in an airtight container at room temperature, for 4 to 5 days.
Don’t forget to check out the book!
About the Book:
It’s a fact: Americans love tots, and last year consumed 3.5 billion of them. And not just at home. From fast-food joints to high-end restaurants, chefs are joining the tot trend, serving exotically spiced tots or fun mash-ups like Totchos, with tots replacing the corn chips in nachos. But now, prepare for TOT-al domination! Created by mad-genius food blogger Dan Whalen, Tots! elevates the friendly little tater to its place in the culinary spotlight. This irresistible cookbook with a nubby tot-texture on the cover offers 50 delicious, playful, and surprising recipes for snacks, appetizers, inspired main dishes, and inspired sides, even desserts. (Yes, you could create an entire tot-centric dinner.) Here are party dishes like Buffalo Tots and Tot Poutine. A Tot Caesar for an elegant starter. Tots for breakfast, like Tots Benedict and a Tot Shakshuka, and tots for dinner—Moules Tots, Chicken Tot Pie, Tater Tot Pizza, and Bibimtot. Side dishes—next Thanksgiving, try Sausage and Tot Stuffing. And for sweets lovers, Tot Churros (deep-fried and dipped in chocolate ganache), Apple Tot Crumble (that crispy salty tot topping really plays off the warm sweet apples), and Tot S’mores—a heavenly melt of a dish. Every recipe uses frozen commercial tots—but Dan Whalen also shows die-hard tot lovers how to make tots from scratch and then alter their creations with different spices (think Tots Vindaloo) and sauces. It’s TOT-ally awesome.