Not Quite Leeds Street: Caramel Cookie Cake

Lately I (along with most of Wellington) have become obsessed with the fantastic Leeds Street Bakery. True, I’ve never actually set foot inside the bakery itself, but they sell to a couple of my favorite cafes and everything of theirs I’ve tasted has been delicious. Especially their salted caramel cookies. And so I thought I’d recreate them this week. It seemed easy enough: my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough, scattered with frozen bits of homemade caramel. What could go wrong?

failure

Yeah, I haven’t quite cracked it yet. But I’ll keep working and get back to you. In the meantime, I decided to repurpose the dough into a cookie cake instead. So I spread it all in the pan and ended up with a sort of soft, chewy, caramel bar. They were tasty chopped up and eaten a few hours later, but would have been even tastier straight out of the oven with some ice cream on top.

caramel

Caramel Cookie Cake
(Loosely adapted from this caramel and the classic Ghirardelli/Tollhouse/standard chocolate chip cookie recipe)

Note: I made this in a big 9×13 dish and cut it into cubes (above). But again, I think this would be best as a cake, so I’ve written the recipe for a standard 9-inch round cake pan instead.

for the caramel:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Line a small baking dish or a large place with a square of buttered parchment.

2. In a medium (clean and dry) saucepan, melt the sugar over medium-high heat. This should take about five minutes, and you should have a smooth, copper-colored mixture. If it’s lighter than copper, cook it until it darkens.

3. Remove from heat and stir in butter, combining as well as you can. Stir in the cream and salt and return to heat, lowering to medium. Bring it back to a simmer and let any crystalized sugar dissolve. Cook for a couple more minutes, until it’s just a shade darker. If there are a couple stubborn bits of solid sugar, don’t worry, just strain them out with a sieve.

4. Pour the caramel over the buttered parchment (through a sieve if necessary) and put straight into the freezer to set. Make sure it’s on a level surface or you’ll end up with some seriously uneven caramel. Let set for at least 30 minutes, until solid.

batter

for the cookie cake:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 Celsius). Butter a 9-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with baking parchment and butter the parchment.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a larger bowl, beat the butter until smooth and light. Add the sugars and beat until well-mixed and fluffy.

4. Add the egg and beat until just combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

5. Take the caramel out of the freezer. Using a very sharp knife, cut the caramel into small squares, maybe a half-inch or so in size. Fold into the batter as gently as you can, leaving a handful of pieces to scatter on top just before baking.

6. Pour the batter into the cake pan, spreading with a rubber spatula to be as smooth and even as possible. Drop the remaining caramel over the top and sprinkle the whole thing with a pinch of flakey sea salt. Put into the oven and bake until just set in the middle, about 20-25 minutes.

bite

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