Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Cookies #3: Salted Caramel Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Raise your hand if you like the salted caramel hot chocolate they are serving at every coffee shop these days.

Awesome. Now put your hand down, people are starting to stare.

The reason I ask is that I love salted caramel hot chocolate. And it turns out that these cookies ARE salted caramel hot chocolate. But in easy to transport cookie form. I'm not gonna lie, there is a looooot of butter involved. And sugar. These are by no means a healthy cookie. But I think the mental health they impart is worth the damage they may do physically. Plus, it's the holidays- live a little.

This recipe came from the same place as my favorite Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies. I may have mixed feelings about Martha Stewart, but that woman has some mean cookie recipes... It's not a difficult recipe, but it can take a little time. As I am typing this, I have only turned about 1/3 of the cookies into sandwiches. I am le tired.

Ok, enough chit chat. Here's what happened:

Salted Caramel Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- Preheat your oven to 375 deg.
- Beat the butter with the sugar with an electric mixer until it's pale yellow and fluffy:

- Beat in the egg yolk (you may need more than this... read on)
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
-*** The recipe says that at this point a dough is supposed to form. Here is what mine looked like:

It was crumbly and dry... I used a large egg, but perhaps my large egg yolk was just not large enough. So I decided to whisk the egg white to get it mildly frothy and mix it into the dough. After that, it looked like this:

....and was very easy to scoop and handle. Not sure what I would do if I had it to do over... I'm happy with how they turned out, so maybe just add the whole egg where I was supposed to add the yolk...

Moving on...
- Drop the dough by "level teaspoons" onto a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing about 1" apart.
     - I used an actual teaspoon measure that I had and leveled off the top so that they came out as round little scoops with flat bottoms.

- The recipe says to bake them for 8 minutes, turning the pan halfway through. I did the first batch that way and ended up baking the remaining batches at 6 minutes without turning the pan. The 8 minute batch was a little flatter and crisper than I would have liked.

8 minute batch

6 minute batch- a little fluffier
- While the cookies cool, work on the caramel sauce and icing:

Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
 - In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat sugar over medium-high until it starts to melt and you see the edges start to brown. This should take 2- 3 minutes. With a heat-resistant spatula, pull melted sugar toward the center of the pan until all sugar is melted and caramel is deep amber in color. Once the sugar starts to melt, it shouldn't take long for it to get to this point.

- Once it gets a pretty caramel color, immediately whisk in  the butter, salt, and vanilla extract.  There will be some bubbling, just keep whisking to make sure it all gets combined.Whisk in the heavy cream.
     - This all happens pretty quick (not even time to take a photo of the process!), so make sure you have your ingredients at the ready before you start making the sauce.

- Remove it from the heat. If you are not going to make the icing immediately, put it in a heat-resistant container and let it cool.

To convert caramel sauce to icing:

  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (or maybe slightly warmer...)
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- The recipe said that you simply "beat the butter and cooled caramel sauce until smooth."

This is much easier said than done with room temperature butter. I ended up setting my bowl on top of the stove and let the heat melt the butter down until I was able to get it smooth. I would suggest using slightly warmer butter- although not completely melted, as that would make for a completely different texture.Here's how mine looked after a bit of stovetop melting:

- Gradually add in the powdered sugar and continue to beat with a wooden spoon until smooth:

I considered using less powdered sugar, but it wasn't thick enough with only 1 cup, so I just went with it and tossed it in. The resulting icing was just a little looser than a buttercream and spread nicely on the cookies.

The icing is *pretty sweet* so I would make sure you taste it before you start slathering it on the cookies- just to gauge the amount you want on each sandwich.

NOTE:  If you have an odd number of cookies, it is perfectly acceptable to spread these odd cookies out with caramel icing and use them as "testers." If you actually end up with a perfectly even number, just eat one. Then you will have an odd number. Then just eat one more. Problem solved.
Using the teaspoon-sized scoops, this recipe made just about 60 cookies. Do a little math... carry the one... that made for approximately 29 sandwiches. Yep. 29 ;)


  1. PS Just a suggestion, feel free to ignore it - but it might be helpful if you rewrote the entire recipe in one place and used only your actual method - the 6 minutes vs. the 8 minutes, the whole egg, etc. Thanks!

  2. Is the caramel center quite gooey and soft or can we make it harden to avoid messy spillage as one gives a voracious bite into these cookies? Or maybe I worry too much? :)

  3. Hi Savorique,
    Nope, you don't worry too much :) I was concerned about that too when I was about to put them in the tin. But, as the icing dries it gets thicker and held up really well when I transported them. If you do feel that it's too thin when you spread it, you may want to just add a bit more powdered sugar to thicken the icing up a bit. The caramel flavor is pretty strong so you should be able to add a bit of sweetness without losing it.