Friday, January 26, 2024

Tamarind caramel cookies


This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Today I'm talking about the 2024 flavor of the year: tamarind! This is according to McCormick & Company, the top-selling maker of seasonings and spices. McCormick deploys a team of chefs and food technologists around the world to seek out the top trending flavor. 

Now tamarind certainly isn’t a new flavor—it’s been around for thousands of years in Southeast Asia, Indian, and Mexico. But it was named the flavor of the year because it’s popping up more and more on menus across the world. It’s used in savory and sweet recipes, and it’s even used in drink recipes.


Tamarind is a type of tree that grows well in coastal areas. It commonly grows throughout Africa, Mexico, Asia and India, but it could also grow in South Florida. The tree produces pods with edible fruit. Once you remove the outer shell, the fruit is sweet, tart, and chewy with a texture similar to dates.

You can buy tamarind in four different form: pods, pulp, paste, and concentrate. I don't recommend buying pods. I couldn't even find them. The pods have a tough brown shell that you peel away to reveal the fruit, which is brown, looks similar to dates, and contains seeds. Tamarind pulp is the flesh from inside the pod without the seeds. In order to use the pulp, you must first soak it in hot water, squeeze it, and then discard the fibers. Tamarind paste is a pre-mixed solution of the pulp with a liquid. It's ready for cooking. It looks like a thick paste. Tamarind concentrate is a runny, dark liquid, and it is about 2 to 3 times stronger in taste than the paste.                                                                                                                   


I love tamarind in pad thai and in sweet chutneys for dipping samosas in, but I wanted to show off its versatility by using it in a dessert. I thought it's sweet-sour profile would offset the richness of caramel and pair really well with brown sugar cookies. I like to make my caramel using the dry method. What that means is I cook the sugar without water in a saucepan. The sugar slowly melts and turns into caramel. Then I finish it with heavy cream, butter, sea salt, and in this case, tamarind paste. I use Challenge Unsalted Butter in my caramel and cookie recipe. Using high-quality butter, like Challenge, has a big impact on the richness and flavor of the caramel and cookies.

I finished off the cookies with crushed, roasted peanuts and sea salt. I really like the texture it adds!


Tamarind Caramel Cookies

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

Time: About 90 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) Challenge Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Optional garnishes: Additional sea salt, 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

For the tamarind caramel

  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Challenge Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) tamarind paste (or 1 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

For the cookies

  1. Cream butter and both sugars on medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add egg and vanilla and mix on low until combined.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to mixer and mix on low speed until flour is just combined.
  4. Cover dough and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

For the tamarind caramel

  1. While dough is chilling, make caramel. Add sugar to light-colored, large saucepan. Spread sugar in even layer, place over low-medium heat and allow sugar to melt.
  2. Meanwhile, place heavy cream, butter, tamarind, and salt in small pot on stove over low heat. The mixture should never boil.
  3. Bottom layer of sugar will start to melt first (may take upwards of 10 minutes to see anything happening). Use heatproof spatula to move sugar around until all the sugar has melted and caramelized. 
  4. Cook caramel until it turns a medium amber color.
  5. Remove skillet from heat and slowly pour in heavy cream mixture while whisking. Continue to whisk while caramel bubbles.
  6. Pour caramel into bowl to cook and set aside.

Back to cookies

  1. When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Scoop dough into 1 1/2 Tablespoon-sized portions. Roll into balls and place on baking sheets. 
  3. Grab small piece of parchment paper, place it on bottom of flat-bottomed drinking glass, and press cookies flat.
  4. Place cookie sheets in oven and bake for 9-10 minutes, or until edges are gold brown, rotating halfway through baking time. Let cookies cool.
  5. Spoon teaspoon of caramel onto center of each cookie and smooth top. If caramel is too hard, heat in microwave for 15-second intervals until caramel is pourable.
  6. Sprinkle sea salt and peanuts on top of caramel.
  7. Allow caramel to set for about 15 minutes before serving.


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