Just popping in quickly to share this recipe with you - because I think that it should be right at the very very top of your holiday baking list. This is the cookie that people are going to ask you for the recipe for - the one that is going to make you friends at the holiday party. I know that these are big calls to make, but trust me on this, because these salted caramel snickerdoodles are all kinds of epic.
I developed this recipe for the holiday cookie issue of Bake from Scratch magazine - it was part of the cookie box on the cover, and it is probably the most made recipe of the six that I contributed. The cookie was inspired by a bakery in Wellington, the town where I went to university. They do a salted caramel cookie that is giant, thin, and has chunks of chewy caramel through it. I get one every single time I go home.
I tried something new when I made these - I wanted to really get as much caramel flavour into them as possible, so I made a hard caramel (which is super fun, it comes out like a window pane), then divided it in two once it was set. Half the caramel gets ground up and creamed in with the butter and sugar, and half gets bashed up into chunks, which are then folded through the dough, so that when baked, form these melty pockets of caramel which add to the perfect chew of the snickerdoodle. The whole thing is then rolled in a cinnamon sugar, then, once baked, loaded up with flaky sea salt. There you have, in my opinion, the perfect holiday cookie. Pretty simple to make, but a little bit fancy. The best. The recipe also makes loads (I kept them on the small side), so they are perfect for stocking up for the holiday season!
A few wee tips:
The caramel, once ground, will pull moisture out of the environment very quickly and start to clump, so use the ground caramel fresh out of the food processor.
I like to use a round cookie cutter, slightly larger than the cookie, to place over the cookie and carefully nudge it into a perfectly round shape just after it comes out of the oven.
Pro tip Have everything ready to go for the caramel - there are a few seconds between a toasty caramel and a burnt sugar, so you want to be able to pour out the caramel as soon as it is ready.
If you do not want to bake all of these cookies at once, the dough, once rolled in the cinnamon sugar, can be stored in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Freeze until solid on a baking sheet before transferring to a bag.
Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles
- Makes about 46 -
400g granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g ground caramel (see salted caramel recipe)
100g granulated sugar
50g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
350g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
200g caramel chunks (from salted caramel recipe)
50g granulated sugar (for rolling)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Flaky Sea Salt to finish
- PROCESS -
Line a half baking sheet with a silpat mat, and have nearby.
Place the sugar in a medium saucepan, and place over medium heat. Heat the sugar, stirring occasionally with a whisk, until all of the sugar has melted (the sugar will clump as you heat, but continue to stir - it will soon smooth out). Continue to cook the caramel until it is amber in colour and just beginning to smoke slightly. Immediately pour onto the prepared lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with the salt. Allow to cool completely. Break into large chunks, and weigh out 200g of the caramel. Place into a ziploc bag and hit with a rolling pin until it forms small chunks. Set aside. Place the remainder of the caramel into the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until finely ground. Measure out 150g and set aside to use in the cookie mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350˚f (180˚c). Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, ground caramel, granulated sugar and brown sugar on high speed for 4-5 minutes. Lower the speed of the mixer, add the egg and vanilla, and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, and add to the mixture. Mix on low until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the 200g caramel chunks by hand, ensuring they are evenly distributed.
Using a 1 Tbsp (#60) cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough and place on a prepared baking sheet. Roll each into a ball, roll evenly in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and space evenly on a baking sheet, leaving room to spread (Note - you will have to bake these in several batches, but I prefer to roll them all at once).
Before baking, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to allow the dough to firm slightly, the transfer to the oven. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes, until they are golden brown and have puffed up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.
Store cookies in an airtight container.