Don’t bake these if you want a subtle, light cookie. These really get in your mouth. First, the flavors. Chocolate from lots of cocoa. Smoke from chipotles and smoky sea salt. Bight from chipotle and black pepper. Oh, and some cinnamon. Then, they are pretty sweet and quite salty. Don’t plan on eating more than one.
8 sandwich cookies
1½ cups sifted all-purpose flour, 4.5 ounces
¾ cup sifted unsweetened high quality cocoa powder, 2.25 ounces
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (or ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika or cayenne)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs, chopped (optional)
1 cup cream
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
Pinch of cream of tartar
½ teaspoon smoked or sea salt
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment to fit baking sheet(s).
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, chipotle, salt and pepper.
3. Using electric mixer, cream butter and 1 cup sugar for 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla. Mix until blended.
4. Add dry ingredients and cocoa nibs. Beat on low speed just until incorporated. Don’t over mix.
5. Shape dough into 2 disks. Wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze dough for 10 minutes to firm. (I didn’t find this to be needed.)
6. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough ¼-inch thick. Using a cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are soft to the touch and no longer shiny, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on pans for 2 minutes. Transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
7. For caramel sauce: In small saucepan set over medium heat, reduce the cream to ¾ cup. Set aside.
8. In another small saucepan, combine sugar, water and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil — do not stir — and cook until the caramel turns an amber color. (You can do this on high heat but just watch because the time from amber to burnt is very short.) Remove from heat.
9. Carefully add reduced cream and smoked salt, stirring until smooth. Cool completely.
10. To assemble: Place a dollop of caramel on a cookie. Top with a second cookie to form a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies.
Make sure to reduce the cream to at least ¾ cup. If the cream is too runny, the caramel will be, too, and they will be a mess. I even had to add some powdered sugar to them caramel one time to keep it from running out of the cookies.
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