Some people would come across the term “caramel shards” on their Facebook feed…..and just keep scrolling.
I, on the other hand, clicked immediately. And immediately started thinking about how I’d use them.
Now, to clarify, this recipe is not for caramel sauce. Or caramel candies. And it’s a little different than the caramel I used in my creme brulee pops from way back when. This is a process called “wet caramel”, and it involves putting a bit of water at the bottom of the pan before adding the sugar, which reduces the chances of burning (something I’m quite familiar with).
So what did I do with these gorgeous shards?
It didn’t take long for me to decide to revisit these cookies. While they were delicious, to be sure, I always felt they could use some improvement. And I had a feeling that the shards were the answer. And while I was at it I reduced the amount of white chocolate, made the cookies smaller, and froze the scoops before baking.
The toasty, just-on-the-verge-of-burnt flavor of the caramel was the ideal counterpart to the oats and white chocolate, and the shards were both chewy (if they baked in the middle of the cookie) and crispy (if they seeped out to the edges).
Even my chocoholic husband declared them addictive.
Food52 added the shards to chocolate chip cookies and brownies; I think they’d also be delicious sprinkled over some good coffee ice cream.
How will you use them?
caramel recipe from Food52
cookie recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cup + 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 ounces chopped white chocolate
flaky sea salt, like Maldon
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Pour 2 tablespoons of water into the bottom of a heavy-duty pot or skillet (I used a 12″ skillet); pour 3/4 cup of sugar evenly over. Melt the sugar over medium-low heat, without stirring. As the edges start to melt and color, slowly and gently swirl the pan to keep the melted and unmelted sugar evenly distributed (you want to keep the movement to a minimum to avoid crystallization). Once the sugar is mostly dissolved you can raise the heat to medium until it has turned a deep golden brown. Immediately pour it onto your prepared baking sheet, and tilt the sheet so that the caramel is as thin and even as possible. Let harden while you prepare the cookies.
Beat the butter, brown sugar and remaining cup of sugar till light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again; scrape down the sides. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Transfer your now-hardened sheet of caramel to a cutting board and cut into smallish pieces. Add to your dough along with the oats and white chocolate, mixing till just incorporated.
Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet – you should get about 36 scoops. Using slightly damp hands, roll dough into balls and flatten slightly (the balls can be close together; you will spread them out before baking). Freeze for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two more baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the balls evenly between the three baking sheets and top each with a bit of flaky sea salt. Bake till golden brown, checking at about 10 minutes. Place pans on wire racks and let cookies cool completely before removing.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver