Salty Caramel & Toasted Coconut Cookies

Salty Caramel & Toasted Coconut Cookies

At the intersection of my desire put a surfeit of flaked coconut to use and an intense need for a soft, cakey cookie is this creation. It features two critical but slightly obscure ingredients: caramel sugar and Kerrygold butter. Standard issue white sugar will still make a nice cookie, but following Stella Parks’ super-simple instructions to make caramel sugar will yield a superior bite. Kerrygold, however, may be swapped with any other European-style, cultured butter.

A food processor has become my new favorite cookie mixing machine. It’s because I’m a lazy cookie whore, really. The heat from the friction of the blade softens the butter in seconds. No waiting an hour for it to warm up on the counter or taking your chances in the microwave. That said, if it’s a hand or stand mixer you prefer, just make sure your butter is at room temperature before you begin.

This recipe yields about 40 1-tablespoon cookies.

Salty Caramel & Toasted Coconut Cookies
30g unsweetened flaked coconut
300g unbleached a/p flour
200g salted Kerrygold butter
200g caramel sugar
4g baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract

Preheat oven to 350º.

Spread flaked coconut evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for five minutes, in an oven preheated to 350º, until deep brown. It cooks with maddening swiftness, so keep a close eye on the oven. As soon as the coconut’s toasted, pour it out into a heat-safe bowl and brush the cookie sheet clean. Allow to cool completely before proceeding.

Weigh flour into a bowl and set aside. Weigh sugar and baking powder into another bowl and set aside. Weigh butter directly into work bowl of the food processor. Crack eggs into another bowl along with vanilla and coconut extract and set aside.

Process butter until smooth, soft, and lightened. (If you’ve started with cold butter, you may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor a couple of times to get it back into contact with the blades before the butter softens.)  Add sugar and process for 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl with a rubber or silicone spatula then add the eggs/extracts. Process for another 10 seconds, and scrape down the sides of the bowl once more. Add the flour and coconut, process for three seconds, scrape down, and process for another three seconds. If there’s any flour left uncombined, scrape the bowl down one more time and process for three final seconds.

Carefully scrape contents into a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least twenty minutes. For maximum flavor goodness, chill overnight. The extra time really does give the flavors a chance to get to know each other.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º, set one rack in middle of the lower third of the oven, and set the other in the middle of the upper third. Line cookie sheets with parchment. Scoop leveled tablespoons of dough and space 2-inches apart. Quickly roll the dough blobs in your palms to make rough spheres. Bake for twelve minutes, swapping cookie sheets between racks and rotating 180º half way through, or until edges are medium brown but centers are still soft to the touch.

Cool completely on racks before storing in an airtight container.

Caramel Sugar Cookies

The best sugar cookie you will ever eat.

I could wait no longer to try 3-2-1 cookies with dry caramelized sugar. Stella Parks should win a Nobel Prize for bringing this technique for making caramel without melting sugar to the world. Check it out, make some (go for at least four hour-dark), and then come back. I’ll wait.

These are called 3-2-1 cookies because they use three parts flour, two parts butter, and one sugar. They’re not too sweet and rather like Scottish shortbread in texture. Though in this case I pushed the sugar a little past just one part to yield a softer cookie. It’s a ratio thing, which I go on about at length elsewhere but will spare you here.

Kerrygold is the butter I hope to find in the afterlife, and it pushes the complexity of the roasted sugar to the fore. Crisp at the edges, soft and cakey in the middle. Oh, and dead simple to make. You’re welcome.

This recipe yields 20 1-tablespoon cookies.

Caramel Sugar Cookies
225g a/p flour
6g baking powder
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
50g salted Kerrygold butter, room temperature
90g caramel sugar (see technique here)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350º with rack positioned in the middle.

Dump everything but the egg into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add egg and pulse until a cohesive ball forms. Scoop into a separate bowl, cover, and rest on counter for 20 minutes. This works just as well without a food processor, but incorporating the butter into the flour will take longer.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and scoop level tablespoons two-inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown but centers still a little soft.

Cool completely on racks. Store for up to a week in an airtight container.

The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week.

Caramel Belgian Waffles

Golden caramel waffles ready to pull from the waffle iron.

My friend Mikey brought this brilliant technique for dry caramelizing sugar to my attention last week. We decided to try it out last night at the Treehouse. With the joint suddenly smelling like an enchanted cookie forest, conversation turned to Liège waffles. For those who don’t eat them daily, Liège-style waffles are infused with this magic caramel produced by a fancy sugar

They’re sufficiently difficult that even I leave them to the professionals.

So here’s a riff on my favorite yeasted waffles (the yeast makes a more flavorful and smoothly textured waffle), using this fabulous new dry caramelized sugar. You can use brown sugar, too, and still have a great waffle. It just won’t be inspired. And really, don’t we all need a little inspiration with breakfast? Being for actual Belgian waffles this recipe is meant to be made in a Belgian (deep hole) waffle maker. For thinner waffle makers, I prefer to use my brown butter pancake recipe.

Anything more than whipped cream, and perhaps a drizzle of my dark chocolate sauce, is gilding the lily when it comes to topping these babies.

This recipe makes about a dozen 6-inch waffles.

Caramel Belgian Waffles
730g whole milk, warmed to body temperature
580g a/p flour
20 grates of nutmeg
7g instant yeast (1 packet)
3 eggs, separated
170g browned unsalted butter, cooled to no more than 100º
100g dry caramelized sugar or dark brown sugar
10g salt
8g vanilla

Prepare browned butter, as described in this cookie recipe that you should also be trying, an hour before you plan to mix the waffles.

Heat milk to about 100º, or the temperature you’d use for a baby’s bath, and set aside.

Weigh yeast into a small bowl and add 60g warmed milk. Stir to combine and set aside.

Combine flour and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks in a clean bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together yolks from separated eggs with 60g warm milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, and cooled browned butter. Whisk in the yeast mixture.

Add a third of the flour to the milk and egg mixture, then gently whisk until only pea-sized pockets of dry flour remain. Add half of the milk and gently whisk in until just incorporated. Add another third of the flour, mixing as before, then the rest of the milk, and finally the last of the flour. With a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites until barely combined. It’s okay if a few streaks of egg remain.

Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and aside for an hour. The yeast will cause the batter to double in size. This is good and normal!

About forty five minutes into the hour of rest you give the batter, get your waffle iron warming up. Carefully rub the inside of the iron with a clean paper towel and a little vegetable oil after the waffle iron cycles the first time. Always follow your manufacturer’s instructions when using your waffle iron!

Add enough batter to the waffle iron to come almost to the top of the peaks in the lower half, spread quickly to even, and close the iron. If you don’t have a waffle iron with a built-in sensor, you can tell they’re done when only a little bit of steam is coming out from the maker, usually about four minutes.

Waffles are best eaten immediately, and I promise, your guests will be happy to wait to get one fresh and hot from the waffle iron. Subdue the crowd with mimosas if they get rowdy.