Changing your name and moving to an undisclosed location can be a massive disruption in your life but sometimes it’s so worth it. By the time you read this I will have already gone underground, totally untraceable and been made to ‘disappear’ like a KGB ‘person of interest.’ I’ve been enrolled in the Culinary Secret Witness Protection Program.
It’s a program for those who have committed the most egregious culinary gaffes… gaffes that have earned them shame and the scorn of their fellow foodies. I knew the second that I decided to make this easy ‘caramel’ sauce that my name would be mud. I mean, technically it’s not even a caramel (no brunt sugar) but man oh man, it is so delicious and best of all, it’s so so so easy to make.
Here’s the rub. It’s basically warmed, flavored condensed milk. I know what you’re thinking, “Warmed condensed milk? Not even Semi-Homemade’s Sandra Lee would stoop such lows.” And you’re probably right.
But you gotta cut me a little slack here. Making caramel can be a hassle. You have to burn the sugar just so, without scorching it. You have to deal with sugar crystal forming on the sides of your pan. You have to be on the ready as the whole thing bubbles up and splatters as you incorporate the heavy cream.
So, I was more than a little intrigued when I came across this easy, no fuss version in Dana Hay’s cookbook, Off the Shelf: Cooking from the Pantry.
Would it taste anything like caramel? (The answer is, Yes) Would it have the same deep, burnt flavor has the traditional version? (The answer is, pretty much, Yes).
I should also mention that I loved the cookie too. It’s kind of a cross between a sandie/shortbread and a traditional cookie. It has the density of a traditional cookie (not crumbly and dry like a good shortbread) and it has that beautiful light flavor that you expect to have in a shortbread cookie.
It’s a great companion for a good cup of tea or coffee: not to sweet and saturated – just light and buttery.
NOTE: I’ve made several ‘real’ caramel recipes during my time in the kitchen. If you want to go the more traditional way, try the caramel recipe used in these Pecan Sandies & Caramel Filling. It is BAR NONE the best caramel recipe that I have ever come across).
NOTE 2: While it truly is delicious, this caramel does have its weakness. If you need a caramel that hardens when it cools this may not be the best recipe (I wouldn’t recommend it as a cookie filling. Note how the caramel oozes out the side of these cookies. It’s very fluid.) But if you are looking for more of a caramel sauce (to pour over ice cream, to mix in a cake batter) this no-fuss baby will really shine.
TEA COOKIES WITH CARAMEL FILLING
Adapted from Off the shelf: Cooking from the Pantry by Donna Hay.
I divided the recipe in half when I made it. Which was relatively easy to do and the results were great. To use half an egg, light whisk the egg and pour about half of it in the recipe.
The original caramel recipe called for golden syrup – an ingredient not readily available in American markets. This recipe uses honey as a substitution.
2 stick butter, chopped
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ all purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
14oz can sweetened condense milk
½ stock butter
2 TBL honey
Preheat oven to 350⁰
Place the butter, icing sugar, flour, corn starch and egg in a food processor and process until smooth dough forms. Roll dough one tablespoon at a time into balls and place on a lined baking tray.
Flatten the dough slightly and place the trays in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until firm. Bake the cookies in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on racks.
To make the caramel filling, combine the condense milk, butter and honey in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until the caramel is thick.
Cool the caramel for 10-15, then spoon onto the flat side of the cookie halves. Top with the remaining cookies and allow to firm.