These Toffee Chocolate Sugar Cookies are lovely, light cookies on their own, a bit like shortbread with a slightly sandy texture. When you dip them in chocolate it takes on a whole new dimension of texture and flavor. And the toffee bits on top make it a crunchy bite of heaven.
I found these cookies on Feast on the Cheap written by the mother/daughter team of Mary Anne Rittenhouse and Mariel Rittenhouse Goodson. Mary Anne has been a caterer for many years and has honed her craft. Mariel grew up in a house where simple foods were transformed into works of art, refining her palate early.
When you look at a recipe and it has a short list of ingredients, each one takes on added significance. This is when you pull out the best you’ve got. Use real butter, preferably a European-style – I like Kerrygold, and Strauss brands. The higher percentage of fat will make a huge difference in the creaminess of these cookies. And this is where vanilla paste really shines. Instead of the liquid extract this is a lightly sweetened gel-like mixture with vanilla seeds in it. The seeds burst on your tongue giving you an extra hit of vanilla in every bite.
This is really three cookies in one because you can stop at any stage and serve them as is. Plain they would be the perfect in the side of a bowl of ice cream. With the chocolate dipping, serve them with espresso at the end of a heavy meal – they will be light, the perfect ending to a dinner party. And with the toffee bits on top, a child’s delight in every way. Three winning cookies in one recipe!
I also like that these are essentially homemade slice-and-bake cookies. All the ease of the ones you buy in tubes in the store, but none of the preservatives or additives (not to mention gluten). You control the ingredients and know exactly what your family is eating.
I made mine gluten-free of course and they are a bit more delicate than those made with all-purpose wheat flours. But in both cases, having the dough rest for 4 hours or longer gives the dry ingredients time to fully absorb the moisture giving you a more delicious cookie.
The technique I give you for melting the chocolate may be unfamiliar, but trust me it is perfect. Alice Medrich, http://alicemedrich.com/ the doyenne of chocolate, has used this technique for years. Did you know that steam is hotter than simmering water? Yep it is, so when you use a double boiler set up you are actually melting the chocolate at a much higher temperature than if you set the bowl directly in the water! There is little to no chance of scorching the chocolate because there is no direct heat. Just pour it into the bowl, place the bowl in the water and walk away!
I can see these Toffee Chocolate Sugar Cookies as a beautiful addition to my holiday cookie platters, adding an easy black and white combination that will contrast perfectly with many of the traditional cookies. You could use a variety of toppings like gold or silver dragees or edible glitter for a little sparkle, colorful sprinkles, etc. There is no end to the fun you can have creating treats your family will love.
Thank you Mary Anne and Mariel for a wonderful recipe that will definitely be made again and again in our household!
Happy Chocolate Monday everyone!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Make the dough ahead and keep a log or two frozen so you can make freshly baked cookies any time. Just wrap with parchment paper, write the baking temperature and timing on the wrapper, then cover with plastic wrap. No need to look up the recipe for baking directions!
Many toffee bits are gluten-free, but double check the labels or look online to make sure they are safe before using.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp orange zest, optional
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
- 2-1/2 (300g) cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 2 oz chopped Heath Bars, toffee bits or chopped nuts (gluten-free if needed)
- 8 oz bittersweet, semisweet, or milk chocolate
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- Tear off 2 sheets of plastic wrap about 14-inches long for wrapping the dough and leave them on the counter while you mix the dough.
- Mix the Dough: In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter and sugar. Mix on low until combined, then increase the speed to medium, creaming them together until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well to incorporate.
- Turn the mixer off; add the flour, salt, and water and mix on Low until just combined and no streaks remain. Do not over-beat.
- Divide the dough in half and place one piece on each of the two sheets of plastic wrap. Form each piece of the dough into a 12-inch-long log, approximately 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough logs tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 4 days, or freeze for longer storage. Roll the logs occasionally to help keep them round and not flattened on one side.
- Bake the Cookies: Preheat the oven to 375°F and set out 2 baking sheets and line with parchment paper. Using a very sharp serrated bread knife, cut each log into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place slices about 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Note: If you are baking one sheet at a time, refrigerate remaining dough until ready to bake.
- Bake the cookies until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cookie racks to cool.
- Prepare the Toppings: Line a clean baking sheet with parchment paper (you can reuse the sheet you used to bake the cookies). Pour the chopped toffee bits or nuts into a small bowl; set next to the baking sheet.
- Set a skillet on the stove and add 1 to 2 inches of water. In a heatproof bowl, place the chocolate and coconut oil and set the bowl in the water. Bring the water to a simmer, turn off the heat, and leave the chocolate to gently melt for about 5 minutes. Stir to start blending the chocolate and coconut oil; leave the bowl in the water until the chocolate is fully melted. Stir until smooth; do not splash any water into chocolate or it will seize.
- Decorate the Cookies: Dip each cookie halfway into the chocolate. Drag them back and forth which pushes the chocolate higher, covering more of the cookie. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Transfer the dipped cookie to the parchment-covered baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate with the nuts or toffee if desired. Repeat until all of the cookies are dipped and topped.
- With the coconut oil in the chocolate (which helps keep it thin to make dipping easier), it takes longer to dry than plain chocolate melted on its own. Refrigerate dipped cookies on the baking sheet until the chocolate sets, about 1 hour. Store in sealed airtight containers, layered between sheets of parchment, for up to 1 week.
- Yield: about 50 cookies
- Note: The dough needs to rest for at least 4 hours, so plan ahead
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