OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG you guys. I have outdone myself this time. I have created a little batch of miracles I like to call Caramel Filled Shortbread Cookies.
I was hired to make a version of these chocolate filled cookies for a client (I love how fancy that makes me sound!) and mid-way through baking the second batch, I thought "hey, why don't I try out some with a different filling, just for me and just for fun?".
Well, I happened to have a bag of caramel candies within easy reach, so I decided to see how it would go if I filled the cookies with those.
As it turns out, caramel candies are the perfect type of filling for a cookie like this: firm enough to handle and wrap the dough around, but pleasingly melty and soft once baked.
Basically, the key to the magic in this recipe is making sure to cover the candy on all sides with cookie dough. This forms a seal, which keeps the filling from oozing out until you take a bite. This means that when you take a bite of what looks like a normal sugar cookie or shortbread cookie, you find this delightful surprise waiting for you:
These cookies taste absolutely brilliant. I mean. Caramel combined with a tender shortbread-y cookie. It's like heaven in your mouth.
As a side note, the term "shortbread" is perhaps a liberty here, because it's not a traditional super crumbly and firm shortbread. It is softer and more tender, but I find these cookies to be closer to the spirit of shortbread than sugar cookies, so I am going with it.
PS! I made one extra special cookie filled with one of the brigadeiros I made last week. I marked it with a single sprinkle on top. The person who got that cookie was so delighted!
Caramel Filled Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 20 - Printable version here
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 20 caramel squares
Line a baking sheet or large plate with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the caramels (that’s important).
Combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed. Then, add the sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes; it will become somewhat fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. The mixture may look somewhat curdled; that is totally fine. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure everything is incorporated.
Add the flour mixture in 2-3 increments, mixing at low speed after each addition until combined, and pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with each addition. The mixture will come together to form a soft, malleable dough. If the dough is too sticky, put the bowl of dough in the refrigerator for several minutes. It will be soft, but it should be easy to handle with lightly floured hands.
With lightly floured hands, pull a piece of dough, about a heaping tablespoon’s worth, from the bowl. Form a 2-3 inch flat but fairly thick, circle of dough (you can do this one at a time, or make all of your rounds and then proceed).
Place a single caramel in the center of each of the circles of dough. Pull the sides of the dough over the filling to form a soft dome, making sure the dough is covering the caramel on all sides. If you don’t form a complete seal, the filling will drip out as you bake.
Place the cookies on the prepared sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart to accommodate slight spreading. Bake for 14-18 minutes, rotating at the 7 minute mark, or until with a dull finish on top (a golden touch on top is fine, but don’t let them get completely golden or browned). Let them cool on the pans. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Once they have set for about 10 minutes, you can serve. Keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.