nosh friday: salted caramel thumbprints
One of the many culinary fads in the last several years has been the salty/sweet paradox — chocolate-covered bacon, dark chocolate with sea salt and, of course, salted caramel. I remember vividly my first taste of salted caramel — it was in a gourmet chocolate shop in Roanoke, Virginia two summers ago. One bite of a salted caramel-filled dark chocolate and I was a goner.
Bliss, absolute bliss.
I came across this Cozy Kitchen recipe and I believe I might have dribbled a little on my keyboard. I have lovely memories of my grandmother’s thumbprint cookies, filled with jam, on her Christmas cookies platters, nestled in next to date pinwheels, mini pecan pies and other delicious homemade sweets. I loved the idea of filling these simple cookies with something a little glitzier, with a little more swish in its skirt.
I had some troubles with the dough being too crumbly and the sauce too runny, so I made a few adjustments that I think help a great deal. I hope these can grace your holiday spread and bring a little salty-sweet cheer!
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat square. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out the fridge and cut into 1 1/4-inch squares.
Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Hold the cookie steady with one hand and press a light but wide indentation into the top of each with your finger. (The dough won’t hold the shape entirely during the baking process, so make sure the well is deep enough to hold caramel. Mine got a little too small in the oven and I can’t lie, I felt a little cheated each time I bit into the cookie.)
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re just a little golden brown on the sides. Let them cool. While they’re cooling, make the caramel.
Combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. While the sugar and water are going at it, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm.
Take off the heat and add the butter and salt. Whisk the butter in, being sure it’s totally combined. Add your warmed cream and whisk vigorously until the sauce has come together nicely.
By now your cookies should be cooled. Spoon warm caramel into the indentations of your cookies. You can eat right away (biting into warm caramel is illegally delicious), or let sit for an hour so the caramel sets.
Glitz, glitz, swish, swish!