Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chocolate-Salted Caramel Sandwich Cookies

If you've every really needed a reason to eat two cookies at once, this is it.

The smooth, fluffy, creamy salted caramel buttercream needs these cookies as much as they need them and putting it in the middle only makes sense.

I most certainly was going to eat two cookies anyways, so this just saves me time.

These rich chocolate crackles are loaded with cocoa powder and come together with just one egg yolk to make them extra rich and tender but still quite crisp on the edges, almost like a French sable dough. A touch of honey keeps them just moist enough and complements the sweet caramel filling.

To make the filling you need to first make caramel sauce, and this you can do a week in advance.

Making caramel is a great skill to have because you can do so much with it - make more fillings, toppings, praline, ganache and decorations.

It all starts with the main ingredient - sugar. There are two ways to make caramel: wet and dry. The dry method is great for making hard candy and brittle, but it requires more attention. The wet method is a bit more fool proof and is great for making sauces and fillings.

The dry: sprinkle sugar in an even layer in a heavy-gauge saucepan over medium heat and cook until spots start to turn golden. Then stir with a wooden spoon gently to promote even colouring and make sure that it all melts into a dark amber liquid. You may need to increase the heat to melt the sugar. It will turn dark quickly.

The wet: sprinkle sugar in a heavy-gauge saucepan, add a bit of water and heat until it dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil without stirring. Continue to boil as the liquid starts to turn golden and swirl the pan frequently to colour evenly. Brush down the sides with a wet brush to dissolve any crystals that form on the sides of the pan if necessary. Boil until it turns dark amber.

For either method, carefully add the cream when the liquefied sugar is amber-coloured and stir or whisk to incorporate. That's caramel sauce. Add salt and vanilla extract to taste.

Once the caramel sauce is completely cooled and chilled, you can use it to make this thick buttery caramel filling.

Beat together soft butter, icing sugar and caramel sauce until smooth and velvety. Spread it between two cookies and you're golden.

Job done.


Chocolate-Salted Caramel Sandwich Cookies

For the cookie dough:
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (165g) packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp honey
1 ¼ cups (180g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
¼ cup (25g) cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

For the Caramel Sauce:
½ cup (100g) sugar
2 tbsp (30ml) water
¼ cup (60ml) 35% whipping cream
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
1/3 cup cooled Caramel Sauce (recipe above)
6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (120g) sifted icing sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and both sugars with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until pale and fluffy; stir in egg yolk and honey.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir flour mixture into butter mixture combined. Roll tablespoon portions of dough into balls and place on onto prepared baking trays spacing them 2 inches apart. You can chill the dough for 15 minutes if it is too soft to work with.

Bake until cookies are puffed and cracked, about 8 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.

Make the caramel sauce by any method described above in the post and let it cool completely, or chill overnight for best results. To make the filling, beat butter with sifted icing sugar until pale and creamy using a wooden spoon or electric beaters. Gradually beat in cooled caramel sauce until well incorporated and smooth. You may need to chill the filling between additions of caramel sauce to prevent separation.  Spread filling between two cooled cookies and get it on. 
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