I blame salted-caramel for my short-sightedness. At the end of morning assembly, when I was five years’ old, the headmistress would read a prayer. Every one of us would dutifully lower her head and shut her eyes. I pressed mine tightly closed with my hands until, like some computer generated visualiser, semi-hallucinogenic patterns appeared. Well, mainly one pattern: a recurrent drop of molten gold slipping seductively into its glistening pool, creating ripples that seemed to extend to the corners of dark space behind my eyelids. I found the effect narcotic, and would do this without fail every morning.
I now realise that the real-life equivalent to that voluptuous liquefied gold is salted caramel: fudgy, creamy slick, viscous and dangerously addictive, I’m obsessed.
Too often it drenches and drowns all other culinary thoughts and ideas I have, but to resist its ambrosial pull is futile. So, instead, I have decided to partner it with its already well-established acquaintance - chocolate. That’s not to say that these cookies are in any way ordinary.
Most shop bought packets of chocolate cookies are filled with empty promises, often dry, floury, over sodium bicarbonated, and rock solid.
I have a friend who has developed and perfected the “cookie-pinch”. Her forefinger and thumb clamp down on unsuspecting biscuits in their paper wrapping. The motion is swift and discreet, but in that split second the pads of her well-attuned digits estimate the freshness of the cookie to the nearest hour.
These chocolate biscuits, however, are crisp, rich, chewy and soft, and cushioned by their silky smooth salted caramel filling, rendering my friend’s admirable skill totally redundant.
200g dark chocolate, chopped
40g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
35g plain flour, sifted
¼ tsp baking powder, sifted
¼ tsp salt
Salted caramel frosting
165g white caster sugar
125ml single cream
150g unsalted butter, chopped
250g icing sugar, sieved
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
2 baking trays, lined with baking parchment
- Preheat oven to 180˚C
- Melt chocolate and butter together in a small pan over a low heat until only just melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
- In an electric mixer, whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla for about 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes smooth and slightly thicker.
- Gently fold in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture. Once combined, fold in the sieved flour, baking powder and salt until just combined and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Drop the mixture, 1 tablespoon per biscuit on to the baking trays leaving 5cm between them as the mixture will spread.
- Bake for 8–10 minutes or until shiny and cracked. Allow to cool on trays.
Salted caramel icing
- Stir together sugar and water in a pan over a high heat until sugar has dissolved. Allow to bubble up for about 5-10 minutes until it turns a deep burnished gold. Don’t be afraid to let it turn quite rusty in colour – the deeper in colour you dare to go (without it burning) the more depth of flavour.
- As soon as it gets to the above stage pour in cream and butter and whisk immediately and continuously over the high heat until fully combined. If the sugar crystallises, don’t panic. Keep whisking over a high heat until it melts once more.
- Remove from heat and let it cool. You can place it in fridge, or freezer, or, if you’re greedy and impatient, you can place the pan in an ice water bath and stir until cool. I opt for the latter option.
- Beat together caramel, icing sugar, vanilla and salt until combined.
- Sandwich the cookies together using 2 tbsp of the icing (or more depending on how caramel-crazed you are).
(adapted from Donna Hay)