When brown sugar cookies and caramel ice cream come together
Vail CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
I take pleasure in the act of discovery, no matter how trivial. So, creating this dessert was gratifying for me. How did it occur? I baked these cookies, ate quite a few and stuck the remainder in the freezer, right next to a carton of dulce de leche ice cream.
“Aha!” I thought, “These two would be a very appealing combination!”
I was sure the satisfying taste of brown sugar would pair beautifully with caramel while the crisp, chewy texture and sturdy nature of these cookies would make them perfect containers for ice cream. Soon after, I paired the two and made ice-cream sandwiches.
The cookies are good; the ice cream sandwiches made with the cookies are even better, pronounced the folks who tested them. So, I offer both variations to you. Serve them either way … your call.
Keep in mind that these are icebox cookies, so the dough has to be chilled or frozen until it is quite firm before cutting and baking the cookies. So plan ahead. The dough can be kept in the freezer for several weeks before baking, and after baking, the cookies freeze very well.
(Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet)
11⁄2 cups of flour
1⁄4 teaspoon of baking soda
1⁄8 teaspoon of salt
8 tablespoons (one stick) of unsalted butter at room temperature
11⁄4 cups of light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 large egg at room temperature
1⁄2 cup of slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
Dulce de leche ice cream
Commercial caramel sauce
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl, whisk to mix them well, and set aside. Cut the room-temperature butter into about eight pieces, place them in a large bowl with the brown sugar and beat the two with an electric mixer until well mixed and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg until the batter is smooth. Scrape the bowl and the beaters as needed throughout this process. Add the flour, soda and salt and, with a lower mixer speed, stir to combine. Stir in the chopped almonds.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured counter top, piece of waxed paper, or a silicone mat. Form it into a cylinder about 10 inches long and two inches in diameter. Make sure the dough is tightly packed and the cylinder is uniform in width. Roll a piece of foil or waxed paper around the dough cylinder so it is completely enclosed and chill it until it is firm (a couple hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator). Turn the roll occasionally so it doesn’t develop a flat bottom.
Before baking, preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center position.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Reynold’s Release no-stick foil. Using a thin, sharp knife, slice the roll of cookies into coins about 1⁄4-inch thick. Gently re-shape them into a round if the pressure of the knife alters the circle. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet, about an inch apart, and bake for about 10 to 14 minutes.
They are done when they are dry on top, puffed but still soft, with their bottoms slightly colored. Don’t overbake them. Remove them from the oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet three to four minutes or until firm enough to transfer to a rack to cool completely.
To make the ice cream sandwiches: Pair the cooled cookies (two to a sandwich) so that they match in size. Spread a tablespoon or so of commercial caramel sauce on the bottom (flat) side of each cookie in the pair. If the sauce is hard to spread, warm it slightly. If you warm it, allow it to cool once you’ve spread it on the cookies so it doesn’t melt the ice cream. Let the ice cream soften just enough to spread a thick layer of it over the caramel on one of the paired cookies. Top it with the other cookie, caramel side on the ice cream and push down very gently so the cookies adhere to the ice cream. Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and freeze for at least an hour before serving.
The cookie recipe is a variation of one in “Cookies Unlimited” by Nick Malgieri.
Makes about 40 cookies, or 20 sandwiches.
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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