These gluten free caramel cookies taste kind of like Twix bars… but better. With a perfectly buttery and crisp shortbread base, a luxurious gooey-chewy caramel layer and a crisp chocolate shell, they’re just outrageously delicious. They’re also surprisingly easy to make – and yes, that includes the from-scratch caramel! So, if you’ve been missing Twix bars, you can now make your own homemade, gluten free, caramel-packed treats inspired by this candy classic.
400g(14 oz) melted dark chocolate, about 70% cocoa solids(Ideally, use tempered chocolate.)
flaky sea salt (optional)
Gluten free shortbread:
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 320ºF (160ºC) and line two large baking sheets with baking/parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix the softened butter, sugar and vanilla together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined. Tip: Don’t cream or aerate the mixture, as that can make the cookies spread out in the oven and lose their shape, which is something you want to avoid (note the absence of any raising agents for the same reason).
Sift in the gluten free flour blend, corn starch, xanthan gum and salt. Mix it all together until you get a fairly dry mixture – it will be very crumbly and it won’t stick together very well.
Add the milk and mix well until it starts coming together.
Give it a thorough knead (because it’s gluten free you don’t need to worry about over-working the dough!) until it comes together in a smooth ball. The cookie dough might be very slightly crumbly or crack in places, but it should hold together well.
Roll the dough to a thickness of about 4-5mm between two sheets of baking/parchment paper. Tip: Rolling between sheets of baking/parchment paper reduces cracking and also means that you don’t need to flour your surface, which in turn eliminates the possibility of incorporating extra flour into the cookie dough.
Use a 2 inch (5cm) round cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Re-roll any scraps to make more cookies until you've used up all the cookie dough. You should get about 22 cookies.
Transfer them onto the lined baking sheets and bake them, one baking sheet at a time, at 320ºF (160ºC) for about 20-24 minutes or until evenly golden brown. Tip: The slightly lower oven temperature (compared to the more usual 350ºF/180ºC) works better here, as it gives a more even bake.
Allow to cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Set aside until needed.
In a saucepan (or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave), heat the double/heavy cream and half of the butter together until hot and all the butter has melted. Set aside until needed, making sure that the mixture stays warm.
In another saucepan, combine the sugar and golden syrup, and cook over medium-high heat with frequent stirring until the mixture reaches 295ºF (145ºC).
Remove from heat, pour in the cream mixture and stir well until combined.
Return to the heat and cook with constant stirring until the mixture reaches 235-240ºF (112-116ºC). Immediately remove from heat and stir in the remaining butter and salt (optional).Tip: In the 235-240ºF (112-116ºC) temperature range, the sugar is in the so-called 'softball' stage. This means that once cooled to room temperature, the caramel will be pleasantly chewy, without being too soft or too hard.
Allow the caramel to cool to 120-130ºF (50-55ºC) before assembling the cookies.
Assembling the caramel cookies:
Once the caramel has cooled to 120-130ºF (50-55ºC), transfer it into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle (the nozzle diameter should be about ⅓ inch/8mm).
Pipe the caramel in a spiral going out from the centre of the cookie (see the post for photos). Make sure to leave about 3-4mm of caramel-free space around the edge, as the caramel will spread ever so slightly after piping.
Chill the caramel-topped cookies in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Tip: This sets the caramel even further, which helps when you dip the cookies into the slightly warm chocolate in the next step.
Dip the slightly chilled caramel-topped cookies into melted chocolate (ideally, use tempered chocolate for the best shine and crisp texture).
After you’ve dipped them into the chocolate, lift them out with a fork and make sure to allow the excess chocolate to drip away – you want a fairly thin, even chocolate layer. To achieve this, I like to use a small offset spatula to gently remove the excess chocolate from the top of the cookie, and then tap the fork on the side of the bowl to shake off the rest.
Place the chocolate-covered cookies on a wire rack (ideally, cover the wire rack with a sheet of cling film, as that makes it easy to remove the cookies after the chocolate has firmed up) and allow the chocolate to set at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. If it’s correctly tempered, you shouldn’t need to refrigerate the cookies.
Use the leftover chocolate to drizzle or pipe a few ‘zig-zag’ lines on top of the set chocolate shell, and then sprinkle them with some flaky sea salt.
Allow the chocolate decoration to set before serving.
The cookies keep well in a closed container in a cool dry place for about 1 week.
Recipe by The Loopy Whisk (www.theloopywhisk.com).