burnt toast

Tag: caramel

Caramel and Walnut Cookies

caramel and walnut cookie

If I were to ask you what your favourite type of cookie was, would you belong in group a.) Nothing too soft, no oats or other wannabe health food ingredients, no currants, and preferably with Lindt chocolate chunks or toasted walnuts. b.) Aaaaaaaaah anything? or c.) I don’t eat cookies unless they’re made from organic triple-distilled unicorn butter. I’d say I (obviously) belong to the a-team, although I’d admittedly really appreciate you as a human if you were from group c, because you’re funny and probably will never know.

This cookie is the leader of the a-team. The one with the I’m-so-cool-I’m-not-even-trying attitude, which they can totally pull off because they’re friggin awesome to hang out with. Everyone can do with one of those on their team. They’re good value. And might I also say delicious. The brown sugar does a wonderful job at providing a depthy caramel flavour, while the walnuts add a further dynamic with their toasty vibes. These cookies are even better and crunchier the next day, so keep a few to the side.

 

Caramel and Walnut Cookies

Adapted from orangette

Makes around 30

 

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g / 1 ¼ cups brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla essence

250g / 1 ¾ cups plain flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

100g / 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

 

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line two baking trays with baking paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the butter and sugar with a hand-held mixer until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Throw in the flour, baking soda and salt, and mix until it all comes together. Finally, add the walnuts. Once they’re more or less evenly distributed, roll heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and flatten them with your fingers to about 1 cm thickness on the baking sheet, making sure they have a 5cm gap between each other. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Carefully transfer them to a wire rack or plate to cool while repeating the same process with the rest of the dough.

Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Pears

roasted caramel pears

Dylan Moran once said “You can get addicted to anything, except for fruit.” I wholeheartedly agree. Fruit’s alright. But I never crave it. There are no wistful daydreams about ruby red apples, no heated discussions on when to buy the ripest mangoes, and certainly no long and lonely nights of clutching the doona tightly, thinking naughty thoughts about sliced watermelon. It just isn’t like that. I will just briefly not that I have been forcing myself to up my fruit intake, just so that my conscience will shut up and let me have an extra chocolate, after I’ve eaten my nectarine. Fruit is alright. Just don’t get me started on fruit salad again, because we all know that it turns me into an irritated opinionated brat, and that’s not what we want now, is it.

One way to make fruit desirable is to disguise it. I’m not talking about the spinach and beetroot brownies or the avocado chocolate mousse here. I’m talking about obvious disguises, namely sugar. Sexy delicious sugar. Give me some pears and some caramelised sugar and let them tango in the oven for a few hours. Now that’s what I call natural beauty. Gleaming little globes of almost translucent auburn-coloured pears, enrobed in rich layers of cinnamony caramel, which upon contact with the cold creamy ice cream (which you will hopefully eat it with) turns the experience into a chewy mouthful of wonderfulness.

Roasted Caramel Pears

Serves about 6

6 firm, ripe pears

1 lemon

440g caster sugar

250ml water

¼ tsp salt

1 cinnamon stick

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

Preheat your oven to 160°C. Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthways, keeping the stems intact. Don’t remove the core and seeds.

Place the pear halves in a large bowl and squeeze over the lemon. Toss the pears and cover with cold water. This will keep them from browning.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the water, sugar and salt and stir over a high heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to the boil. Let it boil, untouched, until the colour starts to take on a light golden hue. Watch closely please, okay? We all know how quickly sugar can turn on us. So after about 8 minutes of staring at the pot, which feels like an eternity, but be patient, you should have a lovely golden caramel, smelling deliciously of cinnamon. Quickly remove from the heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla.

Remove the pears from their lemon bath and place them cut-side-down on a large baking tray. Pour over the caramel. It will have thickened again, but don’t worry, this will change again shortly. And also, add the cinnamon stick to the pan. The longer it hangs out with the caramel, the better. Put the pan in the oven and as soon as the caramel starts to melt again, spoon over the pears. Repeat this every half hour for the next 4 hours. The pears are ready when they are an even colour all the way through and have become slightly transparent. They will also have shrunk quite a bit, which is great – an excuse to eat more of them then. Serve them warm with the caramel drizzled over the top, with cream or ice cream.

You can refrigerate them in their sauce for up to 4 days and just reheat them in a warm oven, but seriously, who keeps desserts for that long?

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