I have to confess, the idea for this cookie didn’t come from, as many similar others do, homemade twix. There’s no denying that homemade twix is scrumptious, as is regular factory made twix. (Pretty much anything involving cookies, chocolate and caramel is scrumptious in my book). But as inspiring as that famous candy bar is, the idea for these came from Lille’s Thins. Not as famous, they are impossibly thin cookies with just a sprinkle of sugar, and just the other day I got a tin of them as a gift and, being the cookie monster I am, I opened them right then and there where it was slightly dark. The plastic tray thingy they come in is chocolate coloured, and I of course got super excited because the outside did not advertise any cacao goodness. But to my great disappointment, it was all a sneaky ruse from the packaging, there was no chocolate involved. But I could not stop thinking as I dunked a couple in a glass of milk, how much more nice they would be if they had a thin thin layer of chocolate as well as that “sprinkle of sugar”. So I set out to make a shortbread thin version covered with chocolate. And in the process thought that an also very thin layer of caramel wouldn’t hurt anyone. And voila! Three ultra thin layers of some of the best components of pastry: caramel, chocolate and shortbread. The result is beyond scrumptious, if that’s possible.
But that’s not all. I knew I’d have some leftover caramel from the recipe, and hence the double trouble: the day you make these you can turn into a two-treat kind of day, because if you have some extra chocolate chips and a few pretzels around, you can also make pretzelcaramelchocolatechunks. (Which don’t have a name that I’m aware of) These both make excellent gifts if you wrap them individually in waxed paper, and they keep very well as long as you keep them away from heat and moisture. So go on, read more for the recipe (s) !
Shortbread, caramel and chocolate thins
For the shortbread:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups flour, scant
For the caramel:
3/4 cups condensed milk
1/3 cup butter (or 3/4 of a stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
And for the extra pretzelcaramelchocolatechunks
1/2 cup salty pretzels, roughly chopped up
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
Make the shortbread first:
· Preheat the oven to 300ªF
· Place the butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on med speed for about 2 mins, until the mixture is crumbly in texture. Don’t overmix. Add the flour slowly and keep mixing until you can’t see any significant lumps of butter, about another 1-2 mins. Transfer to a work surface and very quickly without overworking the dough rub it into one smooth ball. Refrigerate for 5 mins.
Prepare a baking sheet by lightly flouring it. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, trying to make it as thin and even as possible. Gently transfer the rectangle to the baking sheet. Using a ruler, measure and mark equal distances to cut into squares or rectangles of the size you prefer. (Mine came to be 4cm). Using a pastry scraper, cut the dough into squares according to your marks. Poke hole sin the dough using a fork and refrigerate for 10 mins.
Bake the shortbread until slightly golden, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a thin cutting mat. Immediately cut again into squares, using the lines you made before. (You have to re-cut the dough because it will have closed up during baking). Don’t separate the shortbread pieces, keep them as one solid large rectangle, over which you will pour the caramel and chocolate layers. Set aside.
Make the caramel:
In a thick-bottomed saucepan, place all of the ingredients and heat them on medium until a candy thermometer reaches 245ªF (and not a single degree more or the caramel will set to hard!), stirring only occasionally to incorporate the ingredients. Remove from the heat until it stops bubbling, and as soon as it’s smooth, pour it gently over the shortbread, spreading it thinly with a scraper or spatula as you go over the shortbread. Try to make it as thin as possible, which should be fairly easy as the caramel will be hot.
*Make the pretzelcaramelchocolatechunks:* Pour the rest of the caramel onto a silpat or rubber pastry mat, and let it spread on it’s own. Immediately toss the pretzels and chocolate chips over it, pressing them slightly into the caramel. Set aside to cool.
Finish with the chocolate layer:
Over a double boiler or bain-marie, melt the chocolate chips. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer and spread it evenly over the caramel layer. Let the caramel and chocolate harden, for at least 4 hours. Flip the whole thing over (see pic below) on a cutting mat, and using the guides on the shortbread, cut firmly into squares again. This is easiest with a very sharp knife. Ideally, separate the cookies by placing squares of waxed paper in between them, to prevent the shortbread crumbs from sticking to the chocolate, before storing or giving away.
Back to the pretzel chunks: cut the now cool caramel with the chocolate chips and pretzels into rough square shapes (don’t fuss too much abour the shape, just chop it up into bite-sized pieces) and wrap them in waxed paper. They will store for over a week this way, without the pretzels becoming soft.