I decided to have a tea party ............... in lieu of a pity party ............a much better choice, don't you think? You see, I'm really missing my daughter today - she lives all the way across the wide blue ocean...... in London ......... yes, as in England! So I decided to fix a "proper pot of tea" along with these delicious shortbread cookies (quite British) and have a party (or pah-ty as they would say in her corner of the world) ........... in her honor! I'd love for you to join me, at least virtually, in a celebration dedicated to all of our family members near and far!............ I miss you Cait!
I saw a recipe in Martha Stewart Living for Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel, then I saw another one for Coconut Pecan Shortbread Cookies with Caramel Filling, ............... hmmm ............ these two recipes got me going. I got a few ideas of my own - next thing I knew, these cookies were evolving! I think you'll enjoy them; the cookie itself is crispy, buttery, coconut-y and not too sweet, the topping is caramely along with being sweet and salty. There's a touch of chocolate which is ........... well, it's just the créme de la créme! And if you're missing someone today, the way I am, these might be "just what the doctor ordered"!
One more thing - the salted caramel; unbelievably easy! Just run to the store, buy a bag of caramels, throw them in a pot with a bit of cream and if you're feeling a bit extravagant, like I was today, add vanilla bean - voila! That's it!
Coconut Shortbread w/ Vanilla Bean Salted Caramel
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup pecans
1 cup butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
½ teaspoon salt
44 small soft caramel candies (12 ounces), such as Kraft
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1 vanila bean, halved and seeds scraped out
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
sea salt, with large flakes, such as Maldon
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Place coconut and pecans on a baking sheet, and toast until both are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cool, then transfer to a the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.
2. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, flour, and salt; beat to combine. Stir in coconut and pecans.
3. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill for 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough ¼" thick. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Re-roll dough as needed Place the rounds, spaced 1" apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Make indentations in the middle of each cookie by gently pressing with a bottle cap (I used the top of a Worcestershire bottle).
4. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time, if needed. Remove cookies from oven and immediately reinforce center indentation by pressing again with bottle cap. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.
5. Place caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Add vanilla beans. Spoon caramel into indentations in cookies, then drizzle back and forth across cookie with additional caramel.
6. Place chocolate chips in a small heavy duty zip lock bag. Place in microwave for 2 minutes on power level 5 (or 50 percent power). If chocolate is not melted after the 2 minutes, return to microwave for 10 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. Snip off one lower corner of the bag (just an tiny snip) and drizzle chocolate back and forth over cookies (I did some with small dots of chocolate also). Sprinkle with sea salt while caramel and chocolate are still damp. Allow to dry overnight (or place in refrigerator for one hour) then store in an airtight container.
This actually makes a lot more caramel sauce than you will need for the cookies. It would also be a delicious sauce for ice cream or other desserts.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living