Week 3: Fudgy nutwiches...a little late

Fudgy Nutwiches with Caramel Mascarpone Cream. Long title, delicious ingredients. Are these cookies worth the effort? That's debatable. These cookies called out to me! The recipe sucked me in with three ingredients that I love. Chocolate. Caramel. Honey. Yummy!

Recipe courtesy Great Cookies
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. strained Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
8 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate
1/4 c unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 c superfine sugar (see post "Superfine Tip" for instructions on how to make it yourself)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c toasted pecans, finely chopped with 1 Tbsp. sugar

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Line cookies sheets with aluminum foil.
2. Strain together three times the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a 3 qt. bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and blend in the butter and honey. Using a wooden spoon, add the superfine sugar, eggs, and vanilla and beat 100 strokes to thoroughly combine. Stir in the nuts.
4. Strain the dry ingredients into the batter in four additions, folding in with a rubber spatula. Do not over mix.
5. Drop 1/2 tsp of batter from the tip of a spoon, 2 in. apart, onto the cookie sheets, forming 1-inch mounds. Allow the dough to stand 5-10 minutes or until firm enough to shape into balls. Shape and bake.
6. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Let stand 2-3 minutes before removing them from sheet. When cookies are cool, sandwich with cream filling.

4 oz. Caramels
2 tsp. heavy cream
1 1/2 c. mascarpone cheese, room temp.
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

1. Place the caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high in 30 second intervals until the caramels melt. Transfer to a 2 qt. bowl and cool to tepid.
2. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 cup mascarpone into the caramel, folding gently until completely blended. Gently fold the caramel mixture into the remaining mascarpone. Blend in the vanilla and salt. Avoid over mixing. Refrigerate until use.

Whew! These cookie instructions are intense. My mind needs a break. I can tell the author of Great Cookies, Carole Walter is very serious about her craft. While I enjoy a challenge, this recipe is not something you pick when you want to whip up a batch of cookies.

I'm not a professional, but I don't know that there is a point to lining your aluminum cookie sheets with aluminum foil. I did though because I'm anal about following a recipe to the "t". I'm also not clear on why I had to strain the dry ingredients together three times. Or count 100 strokes? Please. Just fold until it is incorporated. And, if you let your dough sit long enough, which isn't that long, then you don't have to let the dough stand on the cookie sheet 5-10 minutes before they can be formed.

My cookies didn't look like hers, but I wasn't upset because they were bite-sized goodness. If you don't like dark chocolate, don't bother. Next time (if there's a next time) I'll probably use semi-sweet chocolate v bittersweet. I was disappointed that I couldn't distinguish any honey flavor. For the filling, I used the Kraft caramels that are popular in the fall for caramel apples. You'll find that 4 oz. of these caramels equate to about 16 pieces.

Survey Results: These are the highest ranked cookies yet! Average rating 4.4. Best comment, "Very moist and flavorable. Also its 'fun size'. Would definitely make for a party or special occasion." However, one survey taker found the size to be impractical. I also got a few suggestions for a different filling, like raspberry. Another cookie, another day perhaps.

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