The caramel alluded to in their name comes not from adding caramel to the dough, but from the delicious caramelization of the sugar and butter on the edges of the cookies themselves. Dorie’s genius hack for baking these cookies in a muffin tin instead of on a baking sheet ensures that both the sides and the bottom develop a toasty browned edge that’s full of flavor.
From Dorie, “You won’t find caramel in the ingredient list, yet it’s the flavor you catch with the first bite. The alchemy happens in the oven. Because these slice-and-bake cookies are baked in muffin tins until their bottoms and sides are deeply golden, the butter and sugar brown so completely that they produce the full, nutty, edgily sweet flavor of caramel. A treat! But not the cookies’ only treat. Their texture is a delightful mix of crisp and tender, the sign that they’re shortbread at heart. And the addition of chopped walnuts and small chunks of chocolate means that they could rightly be called chocolate chip cookies, though perhaps ones that lived briefly in France.”
Recipe very adapted slightly from Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple (Harvest, October 2021).
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Hear more about this recipe from Sam Seneviratne on our podcast The Genius Recipe Tapes. —Genius Recipes
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Caramel Crunch–Chocolate Chunklet Cookies by Dorie Greenspan, from Samantha Seneviratne
2 hours 15 minutes
sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
(100 grams) sugar
(60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
fine sea salt
pure vanilla extract
(272 grams) all-purpose flour
(85 grams) dark or milk chocolate chopped into small chunks
about ½ cups
(60 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted or not (or more chocolate chunks)
- Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and the salt together on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
- Turn off the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the flour all at once. Pulse the mixer a few times, just until the risk of flying flour has passed, and then, working on low speed, beat until the flour is almost completely incorporated, a couple of minutes. Don’t beat too much—you want the mixture to be more clumpy than smooth. Still working on low speed, mix in the chocolate and nuts. Then finish incorporating the chunky ingredients with a flexible spatula.
- Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead it to bring it together. Divide the dough in half and shape each hunk into a 6-inch-long log (the rolls will be a scant 2 inches in diameter). Wrap each log well and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. (You can refrigerate the logs for up to 3 days. Or you can freeze them, wrapped airtight, for up to 2 months; let stand at room temperature for about an hour before slicing and baking, or defrost in the fridge overnight.)
- WHEN YOU’RE READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. (If you can’t fit two muffin tins on one rack in your oven, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds.) Butter two regular-size muffin tins—you can use bakers’ spray, but butter is really nicer for these.
- One at a time, mark each log at ½-inch intervals and, working with a chef’s knife, cut into rounds. Place each puck in a muffin cup.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the pans if necessary, or until the cookies are golden on top, browned around the edges and slightly soft in the center as they’ll firm as they cool. Transfer the pans to racks and let rest for 3 minutes, then gently pry each cookie out with the tip of a table knife and place on the racks to cool. You can serve the cookies warm, but their texture shines brighter at room temperature.
- STORING: Kept in an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will be good for at least 5 days.
- A NOTE ON MUFFIN-TIN BAKING: You might be tempted to use a baking sheet, but I hope you won’t—the texture is really best in the muffin tins.
- PLAN AHEAD: The dough needs to be refrigerated for 2 hours