BOUCHON BAKERY CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD WITH SALTED CARAMEL FILLING
At Christmastime, I bake. It Is really the only time of year I devote to sweet things. An Oreo addict, I was intrigued by Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery recipe for TKO cookies. The dough is easy to work with and the end product is gorgeous. I've tried It with a variety of fillings. Other than freshly whipped vanilla cream, this salted caramel filling is the cat's meow. The original Bouchon TKO cookie and filling recipe is worth seeking out. Any milk's favorite cookie aficionado will think he or she has died and gone to heaven.
Nota bene: A 2-inch fluted cookie cutter and a pastry bag with a 3/16-inch tip make smaller cookies than the original recipe indicates, but the richer filling in this recipe seems to justify the slight size modification.
1 3/4cup + 1 1/2tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup + 1 1/2tablespoons unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
3/8 tablespoon baking soda
8 ounces unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
SALTED CARAMEL FILLING
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
A generous 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 stick icing sugar
1. Place the flour in a medium bowl, sift in the cocoa and baking soda, and whisk to combine.
2. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and mix until smooth. Add the salt and mix for another 15-30 seconds. Add the sugar and mix for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
3. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined, then mix until the dough begins to come together.
4. Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 6-inch-square block. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until firm. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to one month.)
5. When ready to use, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with Silpat or parchment paper.
6. Unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90-degrees and repeat (this will help prevent the dough from cracking when it is rolled).
7. Roll out a 1/8-inch thick sheet. If the dough has softened, slide it, in the parchment, onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm enough to cut.
8. Using a fluted cutter, cut rounds from the dough. If necessary, push the trimmings together, refrigerate until firm, and re-roll. If the dough softens, return to the refrigerator until the cookies are firm enough to transfer to the sheet pan. Arrange the rounds on the sheet pans, leaving about ¾ inch between them.
9. Bake 15-17 minutes, turning the pans around halfway through baking, until the cookies are fragrant with small cracks on the surface. Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely.
TO MAKE THE FILLING
1. Heat the sugar in a heavy pan over medium-low heart. Don’t stir the sugar but swirl it around the pan until its melted. Cook for a few minutes until it begins to bubble and has turned golden brown. Take off the heat immediately and add the cream, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine (work quickly so it doesn’t harden). Set aside.
TO ASSEMBLE THE COOKIES
1. Turn half of the cookies over. Pipe ½ inch long teardrops in a ring on each one, beginning 1/8-inch from the edge of the cookie, and then, working toward the center, pie concentric rings of teardrops to cover the cookie. Top each with a second cookie and sandwich together. Alternatively, place a generous teaspoonful of the filling into the cookie and sandwich together.