Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Carol's favorite: Sandies by the sea

Carol is one of my North Carolina cousins. She is creative, artistic and very funny (she even submitted a picture with her entry!). She is a lot like her mother, my aunt, which I know she would find as a compliment. I love that she gave me this recipe - when I think of my North Carolina cousins, I think of the beach, lots of laughter and lots of good food and conversation.

Sandies by the sea

2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) 
unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly-packed 
light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and very finely ground*
20 caramel candies
3 tablespoons cream or whole milk
2 to 3 tablespoons large crystal sea salt or 
fleur de sel, as needed**
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate morsels (at least 60% cocoa)
  1. Combine flour and salt in bowl; set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat to blend. Add dry ingredients in batches, mixing between each. Stir in ground pecans. Cover and chill dough until firm.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or butter the sheets.
  4. Roll dough into 1-inch balls with floured hands. Place on baking sheet at least one inch apart, and form a cavity in center of each ball with thumb. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until bottoms are brown and set.
  5. Remove cookies from oven; cool briefly on baking sheet. Transfer with a metal spatula to a wire cooling rack set over a piece of parchment paper.
  6. Melt caramel candies and cream together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Fill center of each cookie with approximately 1/2 teaspoons of caramel. Sprinkle warm centers evenly with sea salt, and let sit until firm.
  7. Place chocolate in plastic bag in a bowl, heat on medium at 30-second intervals in microwave. Massage between each interval until melted. Cut a small hole in bottom corner of bag,
  8. Drizzle chocolate across each cookie; add additional salt if desired and allow cookies to sit until chocolate has become firm.

Makes about 4 dozen.

*To toast pecans, place nuts in a single layer in an ungreased shallow pan.  Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to cool.
** Sea salt and fleur de sel are found at specialty food markets and most supermarkets. For this recipe, choose a white or pink variety with large crystals.

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