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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Caramel Tiger Almond Cookies

Caramel Cookie 3

Cookies 1

Caramel 1

It all started with the bottle of Dulce de Leche which Gertrude of My Kitchen Snippets gave me in New York. I tweeted that I was looking for something to bake with the Caramel and that led to a tweeting marathone debating if Dulce de Leche and Caramel (cream based) are the same thing.

I have always made my Caramel by adding cream and butter to a boiling sugar syrup and when I started to see many fellow bloggers raving about the process of making Dulce de Leche with sweetened condensed milk in a can, I recall simply dismissing it as just another novel way of making caramel.

When Gertrude gave me the bottle, she had told me that she was a little amused that so many bloggers in Malaysia and Singapore are crazy about making Dulce de Leche and that I should try this original one from Argentina. I recall feeling a little confused at that point - not understanding why she had said that the original version is from Argentina. Later as I pondered, it started to make a little more sense. Dulce de Leche, is after all, the Spanish term for Milk Candy and it is completely probable that the term should have originated from a Spanish speaking/ influenced region. In fact, the first Dulce de Leche I tasted was from Mexico - made with goat's milk, it had a goaty smell which I have not learnt to appreciate.

Many years later, when I learnt to make my own cream based caramel, I started to use the terms Caramel and Dulce de Leche interchangeably.... though I have to admit that Dulce de Leche does sound so much more exotic, myseterious and... gourmet. The process of making Dulce de Leche, which involves cooking and reducing a mixture of sugar and milk until the sugar caramelises, is basic and straight forward.  Caramel cream, on the other hand calls for caramelising the sugar in water first before the milk component is added. To give it more body and smoothness, butter is often also added.  To me both methods have the same essential components. Milk, after all is more than 80% water and less than 20% milk solids while cream, is just a version of milk that is higher in butter fat content. What differs is the process and my personal preference is the second method which gives me more control over how the sugar caramelises and absolves me from having to deal with curdling boiling milk.

Back to the bottle of Dulce de Leche from Argentina. Truly sensational in its balance of sweetness and body. It conjured up images of  happy children.... and Quality Street's old-world-cellophane wrapped fudgy toffees....

Caramel Cookies 11

I found this cookie recipe in Tish Boyle's The Good Cookie (yes, again!). A very short almond based cookie, this is another keeper. I would be most content eating the cookie by itself with tea or coffee. Sandwiching and drizzling it with the silky smooth Dulce de Leche just elevated the indulgence to an even more gratifying level.

So thank you, Gert, for the sweet gift. I am looking forward to making more delicious treats with it!

Caramel Cookies 11(250)
Recipe : (Adapted from Tish Boyle's The Good Cookie)

Almond Cookies
1/2 cup            Almond meal
1.5 cups          All purpose flour
1/2 cup           Corn starch
1/8 tsp            Salt
225g               Butter softened
1/4 cup           Castor sugar
1/4 cup           Powdered sugar
1/4 tsp            Almond extract

Caramel Filling
3/4 cup           Granulated sugar
3 tbsp             water
1/3 cup           Heavy cream
2 tbsp             Unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

Method :
1. Mix almond meal, corn starch, salt and flour together in a bowl.
2. In a cake mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light in texture. (about 2 mins)
3. Add in almond extract. Lower mixing speed to low and add in flour mixture.
4. Scrape the dough onto a plastic food wrap. Flatten to form a disk and refrigerate for 2 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 175C.
6. Roll out dough to 1/8" thick and cut out cookie using a 1.5 inch fluted round cookie cutter. Using a 3/4" round cookie cutter, cut out the center of half of the cookies. Refrigerate for 5-15 mins if dough becomes too soft.  ( I used a Linzer cookie cutter which makes it easier)
7. Bake cookies at 175C for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Assemble :
1. Spread Dulce de Leche / Caramel on to cookie and sandwich with another piece of cookie with the cut out center.
2. Placing some Dulce de Leche/ Caramel into a piping bag, cut a small hole at the tip of the bag and pipe drizzles of the caramel over the cookie.

Caramel

1. In a small heavy saucepan, place sugar and water and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to high and cook without stirring and occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush until the syrup caramelizes and turn into a golden amber colour (about 4 minutes).

2. REmove the pan from the heat and carefully add in the heavy cream. Stir the bubbling mixture until smooth. Stir in butter and salt until the butter is melted. Cool caramel down until it is thick enough to spread.

27 comments:

Joanne said...

I think this calls for a side-by-side taste test comparison! I will take on the task of making two batches of these luscious cookies...one with caramel and one with dulce de leche...and then I'll get back to you.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@Joanne: Please do!! I am looking forward to it!

La Table De Nana said...

With the linzer shape they are so pretty too..
WE keep some dulce here now as Jacques loves those kind of things....I am not a sweet girl..I am salty.. we sometimes add cream to the dulce for him..The cookies sound really good:) Thank you.

grub said...

i prefer making caramel then risk making dulce de leche haha. these cookies look so good i think i could eat all of them :) hrm some could be filled with jam too :D

penny aka jeroxie said...

I am making Dulce de Leche tomorrow! So yum

The Sweetylicious said...

you read mind dont you? i was thinking what to do with the dulce de leche in my fridge. now, im going to bake this esp you say is a keeper! (: (: anyways, you baked it so lovely!

Zurin said...

Funny I was just making caramel sauce today. it tastes different from dulce de leche. Dulce de leche although caramelized still has a strong condensed milk flavour. But then i did not use real condensed milk.I had used condensed filled milk. So i really dont know whta the 'proper one' wld taste like.

nevertheless your cookies looks so pretty and the caramel to die for!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Zurin- to be honest, I have liked working with sweetened condensed milk and have never liked the taste of SCM....I don't know how the industry makes SCM but I bet it has been processed beyond just the simple milk and sugar. The traditional Dulce de Leche is made by cooking milk with sugar over time. This one from argentina tastes very similar to caramel ... Imagine butterscotch and toffee...

mr. pineapple man said...

looks fantastic! my mouth is watering~

Maria @ Scandi Foodie said...

Lovely! I have never cooked anything with condensed milk or dulce de leche.

ICook4Fun said...

You are most welcome Shirley. Glad that you make something out of it. At a glance I thought you made Alfajores. It is very popular cookie in Argentina also sandwich with DDL. If Carlos sees your beautiful cookies I am sure he will ask me to make some too :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

These are just SO pretty! Love the caramel drizzle and how wonderful getting to try a version from Argentina!

Passionate About Baking said...

Shirley,
Your cookies looks very good. So far, I don't really experience much with caramel because nobody in my family eats it. I also don't fancy caramel, even though I would like to try one or two. I can only drool over your beautifully made cookies.
I would also like the shortbread cookie on its own!

Jean said...

these cookies look crazily good! that caramel drizzle...ooo...my knees are turning weak

Aimei said...

The caramel looks simply luscious... But looks rather intimidating to make. I shall set it as a resolution to learn to make it . By the way, I think your photography is getting better and better. :)

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Mmm looks like you found something caramel to make and they look irresistible!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@aimei, thanks. You should try to make the caramel. It is really not so difficult. Funny you should comment on my photos because I was really unhappy with these shots after I had taken them... :)

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Both i have not made before , thanks for your inspiration. I must make soon.

pierre said...

these cookies are made for me !!pierre

daphne said...

I have heard abt this so much but has no chance to make it yet. Oh, how tempting you have written it to be. Sounds like it was worth the effort!

Anh said...

oh my god what great cookies are these! I am a fan of anything caramelised...

Pei-Lin said...

Oh, part of the dulce de leche winds up in and on these cookies! Smart, because that way, the taste, flavor, and texture of this precious caramelized spread from Argentina wouldn't be compromised!

Hahaha! That was REALLY a marathon we had on Twitter. Gosh. I stir-fried some Sinchew beehoon yesterday - no curry powder. LOL!

Vivienne said...

these look SO pretty and fancy...esp with the perfect drizzle of DDL! ive not made DDL from scratch before..only from cans of condensed milk and they're so lickingly good!

mycookinghut said...

Looks really pretty and the dulce de leche is hard to resist!

tigerfish said...

Alas and always, I can only look and drool....

Mei Teng said...

Never had almond cookies with caramel sauce before.

I love pure almond cookies. I order mine with a friend who runs a family food business and theirs are the best ones I have ever tasted so far.

Non stick, Nutty and Sous chef said...

This looks SO good! and an almond shortbread cookie with DDL! it's the stuff dreams are made of! can't wait to try it. Thanks for postin Shirley!

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