During a day in which absolutely nothing went as planned, why should baking a batch of cookies have been any different? What could possibly have gone wrong?
#1. Being forced to change my recipe idea because of ingredient cost. I had planned to use Irish Butter in this recipe, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day and all, and these cookies are for a party that I will be going to later this weekend. Then I came to the realization that this recipe would cost me $5 in butter alone…hmmmm, guess I forgot about shortbread calling for almost twice the butter of the average cookie recipe. I came close to just throwing it in the mixer anyway, because when have I ever let the cost of a recipe hold me back, but then I started thinking about the higher butterfat content. I finally decided to err on the side of caution and use normal butter this time around, so that I didn’t end up with a funky textured, or burnt cookie; I’ll have to play around with using the solid liquid gold butter another day.
#2. Spilling mini chocolate chips all over the floor. Of course, Brenna just happened to be hanging out in the kitchen with me, and chocolate just so happens to be on the “Never Let Your Cat Eat” list. This meant having to drop everything I was doing, throw myself on the floor, and furiously gather every last chip before she could get her little paws on one. Fun objects falling from counters make her day, but I bet you she wished that chicken would fall more often, instead of onions, tomatoes, grapes, and all other poisonous inedible kitty food. By the way, none of the chips that landed on the floor were put into the cookies, even if I did gather up most of them in less than five seconds.
#3. Working with caramel sucks, it tastes so amazing, but it still sucks. I wanted to make a homemade caramel filling for this recipe, because I had three bags of individually wrapped caramels hanging out in my pantry, which fall out every time I open the pantry door. Melting caramel squares takes forever; you stand, you stir, you stand, you stir, you try to change arms, you stir again, it’s hard to stir with your left arm so you change arms again, you stir. I think you get my point, right? You stir. When you finally have everything melted together beautifully, you have to rush to fill the cookies, because the caramel sets up so fast. If you don’t work fast enough, you have to put the caramel back on the heat and stir again. The real problem with filling anything with caramel is doing it quickly, while not burning yourself, and also trying not to make a complete mess. I have yet to find a great way to do this. I used a plastic decorating bottle, wrapped in a small kitchen towel to keep my hand from burning. At first it worked great, but as the caramel started to get cold, it got harder and harder to squeeze out of the bottle. Then the lid of the bottle flew off, dumping caramel all over the cookies. After screaming, and scrambling to save what cookies I could, I stuck the bottle in the microwave for 15 seconds and tried again. The second go around was a bit better. One of these days I’ll find the perfect way to decorate with caramel, if anyone has any brilliant ideas please don’t hesitate to clue me in. Four cookies were lost to the caramel explosion. One was a test cookie for me, one for B.O.B. Bob, one went down the sink because it had way too much caramel on it, and the other is still sitting in the kitchen calling out for someone to eat it.
#4. Cleaning up after working with caramel sucks almost as much as working with it. Helpful hint, put a piece of tin foil underneath the cooling rack, before you start filling your cookies. I of course completely forgot to do this, which meant scraping sticky hardened caramel off of my marble countertop. Soak everything the caramel touches with very hot water, and try to be patient when you realize that it still takes forever to remove the glue-like substance from every utensil you use. I don’t think there’s any way to make cleanup easier, but if there is, as before, don’t hesitate to clue me in.
As you can see, I didn’t have a great day in the kitchen. I’d love to say that I’m never making these cookies again, because they were such a pain in the tuckus to make, but I can’t. They are just so freaking good, and I’m saying that after only having eaten one cookie.
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened
- 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 Teaspoon Jameson Irish Whiskey
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips, Frozen
- 1 (11-oz.) Bag Vanilla Caramels, Unwrapped
- 3 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 Tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
- Ground Sea Salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream the butter and sugars together, on medium speed, for 2 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and whiskey; mix for 1 minute.
- Slowly add the flour, on low-speed; mix just until the majority of the flour is incorporated.
- Using a spatula, mix in the mini chocolate chips.
- Roll dough into 24 equal sized balls, around 1 1/2-inches wide, and then place on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each cookie.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or just until the bottom edges of the cookies start turning a golden brown.
- After removing the cookies from the oven, use the back of a spoon to reinforce the indentation in each cookie. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, before removing to a cooling rack.
- Melt the caramels into the cream, over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. This will take several minutes, so be patient; your arm will definitely get a workout.
- Take the caramel off of the heat and add the whiskey. Be very careful; the caramel will bubble up with the addition of the whiskey; hot caramel is like liquid lava when it hits your skin.
- With a spoon, or a decorating bottle, fill the indentation of each cookie with caramel, and then top with a bit of the ground sea salt.
- Allow the cookies to rest for several hours before placing in an airtight container, with waxed paper between each layer of cookies.
- Freezing the chocolate chips will help them to hold their shape better during the baking process.
- I use a Mojito Muddler to reinforce the indentations in my cookies when they come out of the oven. It came for free with a bottle of Bacardi years ago, and I’ve found it to be a handy utensil several times when I’m cooking and baking. Pampered Chef carries a Mini-Tart Shaper, which will make your life easier. A spoon will still work, but it’s not the best tool for the job.
- If you want to skip the entire caramel melting process, try mixing 1 to 2 tablespoons of whiskey into Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce, or any other store-bought caramel sauce.
- Try using Maldon Sea Salt.
- Drizzle melted chocolate over the caramel filling for an even more decadent cookie.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 03/15/2014
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