December 18, 2010

Curled Caramel Cookies

Here's a fun little cookie.  I suppose it would be at home on a Christmas Cookie platter, but it's more like a garnish.  You know, like those wafers that Swenson's and other ice cream parlors would put on their sundaes.  Except that I don't think this would be called a wafer.  And it doesn't have that lightness that those have.  What I am trying to say is that it is thin and crisp and nutty, and if you tried to serve these alone, your guests might feel a bit jipped.  They are the kind of thing that dresses up a dish of ice cream or takes a simple pudding to the next level.  I suppose you could also fill them with custard, but these are meant to be crisp, buttery little bites, so you would have to fill them right before serving, otherwise they would get soggy.

This recipe makes a manageable amount--about 24 cookies, which should be sufficient for one evening.  Normally I like to make large batches of cookies and freeze them, but these don't freeze well.  They are delicate and would shatter.  Besides, rolling them is a finicky process, and my guess is that by the time you get to number 24, you'll be in the mood for a new task.

Still, it's a simple recipe.  You may have everything you need on hand.  And it might be just the thing to dress up Bananas Flambé or a creamy Fall Holiday-tini.

Curled Caramel Cookies
adapted from Joy of Cooking

1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla*
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground or minced nutmeats* (I used hazelnuts.  Rombauer recommends Black walnuts or hazelnuts. I'd like to try it with local almonds.  Oatmeal might be a good nut-free substitute.)

1.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Grease 2 cookie sheets.  In bowl of electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Blend well.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Beat in vanilla, salt and flour.  Stir in nuts.

2.  Drop the batter from a teaspoon onto prepared cookie sheet.  Leave plenty of room between cookies. A rounded teaspoon of batter will spread to about 3 inches.  Use wet hands to flatten the cookies.  And because you will need to handle each cookie individually when it comes out of the oven, don't bake more than about 12 cookies at a time.  If you have great confidence in your cookie rolling skills, start one cookie sheet, then start a second cookie three minutes later.  Bake cookies 6-8 minutes, until dark around the edges, but golden brown in the center.

3.  Let cookies cool on cookie sheet briefly, then remove from pan with a thin metal pancake turner.  Flip cookie into your hand and roll over the handle of a wooden spoon, or over a rolling pin, or over your finger.  If the cookies cool too quickly, set the cookie sheet back in the oven briefly to reheat.  And do not dismay, if some of your cookies don't get rolled, they still make a good garnish.  Let cookies cool completely.  Ideally, serve the same day they are made.  If they are to be served more than one hour after being baked, cover tightly to keep them crisp.

*See my notes on vanilla here and on ground hazelnuts here.

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