The name really says it all here! These tender little chocolate-y cookies, filled with caramel, coated with walnuts and drizzled with bittersweet chocolate are indeed a treasure with each and every bite! And although they look fancy and complicated, they're actually pretty easy to make, which makes them even more of a treasure! If you're looking for one new cookie to add to your holiday baking, your search is over! But before we get to these amazing treats, I want to give a big congrats to my reader Trish, who won a copy of Wintersweet in the Holiday Giveaway. She is one lucky girl and is definitely going to have some fun baking this holiday season!! And thanks to all of you who entered too--better luck next time!
Now back to the cookies! You start by making a simple cocoa powder based dough and allowing it to chill for a while. Once the dough is firm enough, you roll out little balls and coat them first in egg white and then the chopped nuts.
After you transfer them to a lined baking sheet, you use your thumb to press down into the center to make a little indentation where you will spoon the caramel into once the cookies have baked.
The caramel sauce couldn't be easier. All you do is heat a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream with a bunch of little caramel squares. Gooey and perfect!
Once the cookies have cooled a bit, you fill the centers with the hot caramel.
Now you have a big decision to make--do you leave them as is and just let the caramel harden a bit before serving, or do you melt some bittersweet chocolate and drizzle the tops of the cookies a la Jackson Pollock? Sorry, but life is full of these major crossroads and decisions!!
Either way you go, these are stupendous! With every bite you get the amazing combination of moist chocolate cookie, crunchy nuts, chewy caramel and, if you've opted for the chocolate drizzle, the deepness of bittersweet chocolate.
These are treasures indeed! And you will be treasured too if you give a little tin of them to someone this holiday season! Happy Baking!
Chocolate Caramel Treasures
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Prep Time for Cookie Dough: 10 minutes (plus at least 30 minutes for dough to chill) and another 10-12 minutes to roll out the dough balls and coat them in the egg white etc and get them ready for baking; Bake Time: 10-12 minutes; Prep Time for Caramel Sauce: 5-10 minutes; Assembly Time: 10-15 minutes
For the Cookies
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped finely
For the Caramel Sauce
10 store-bought caramels, unwrapped (I used Kraft)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the Chocolate Drizzle
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted (you can do this in the microwave or in a double boiler over barely simmering water)
1. To make the cookies: Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla in a large bowl on medium speed until well blended. Sift in the flour, cocoa and salt and mix together on low speed until a sticky dough forms. Don't over mix. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, seal well and chill for at least 30 minutes until it's firm or up to one week (wrap the plastic wrapped dough with a piece of aluminum foil as well if you're going to chill it for more than a day).
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
3. Place the chopped walnuts in a shallow bowl and set up a little assembly line with the egg whites. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and roll barely tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Coat each ball with the egg white and then roll it in the nuts. Transfer to the lined baking sheets as you coat them, keeping the balls about 1 1/2 inches apart. Using your thumb, press down in the middle of each ball to flatten, so that each cookie has a little well in the center of it. Bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet front to back, halfway through so that all the cookies cook evenly. Cookies are done when they puff up slightly but are still soft in the center. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, use the handle end of a wooden spoon to press down the centers so that the wells will be deep enough to hold the caramel filling. Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack and repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
4. While the cookies are cooling, you can make the caramel filling. In a small saucepan, heat the caramels and cream over medium-low heat, stirring every now and then, until the mixture is completely smooth. When cookies are cooled, use a small spoon to carefully fill the centers with the caramel. If the caramel starts to harden and you can't spoon it in easily, reheat it over a low light until it's liquid-y enough again.
5. Allow the caramel to completely set--I waited at least 30 minutes and then using a fork, dip the tines into the melted chocolate (if using) and using a back and forth motion, drizzle the cookies with the melted chocolate to form zigzag patterns. Let the chocolate completely harden and serve cookies or store in an airtight container at room temperature, with wax papers between the layers, for up to 5 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine. I subbed in chopped walnuts for hazelnuts.