Christmas was a blur of cookie dough. I shipped out my first cookie order (to my wonderful aunt and uncle, but still – !) which was very satisfying, and delivered a few boxes to friends. Around 250 cookies in total, comprised of chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, ginger molasses, pepparkakor, and the star of this post: salted caramel lemon ginger cookies. Let’s just think about that name for a minute and try not to swoon.
The idea for this recipe came from my favorite chocolate at the pâtisserie where I used to work as a pastry assistant/manager (guess which was the best half of that job?). Our chef only used dark chocolate, which she tempered and molded into gorgeous creations. If I were to choose a dessert, it would usually be something like a creme brûlée or an apple galette, or a jewel-colored macaron. That is, until this one chocolate appeared on the scene. A small rectangle, it had a crisp dark chocolate exterior, with a velvety caramel interior, flavored intensely with fresh ginger and lemon peel. The chef would make a big batch of soft caramel with flecks of Maldon, stirring in the aromatic additions until the whole kitchen smelled even more heavenly than usual. I couldn’t get over it, and neither could our customers.
Sadly that pâtisserie is now closed, or I’d have a dozen of these caramels on hand at all times. I decided I would try to recreate the flavors in a cookie, using my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough from an All Recipes/Smitten Kitchen recipe. Making a double batch of the dough, I used half for chocolate chip cookies, and half for the test batch of salted caramel lemon ginger. The test batch BLEW MY MIND. Fiery ginger, bright lemon, sweet and salty caramel chips – best experiment in a long time. Don’t overlook the chocolate chip version of this recipe, either – in my mind they are THE only chocolate chip cookie recipe you’ll ever need. “Crispy, chewy,” as Deb’s post calls them, plus rich with butter and vanilla. An added bonus is the melted butter, which means the speed of this recipe is perfect for a 30-minute baking window, mixing to cooling. It’s common in the food blog community to test many, many different versions of the same recipe to find the ideal product – but for me at least, once I find a recipe that hits all the right spots, I don’t need to look further. There are so many other new things to bake and cook!
Salted Caramel Lemon Ginger Cookies
Preheat your oven to 325F/165C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), melted
- 1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1/2 granulated white sugar
- 1 glorious tablespoon of vanilla
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups or one 10-11oz package of Hershey’s sea salt caramel baking chips (a little more than 2 cups)
- zest of one lemon
- a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (or more, if you’re a ginger fiend), peeled and finely chopped
- In a small/medium bowl, sift or mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
- In a medium/large bowl, combine the melted butter and both sugars. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until fluffy.
- Add the vanilla, egg yolk, and egg to the butter/sugar mixture, and mix until it becomes soft and light. I used a whisk at this stage to blend it evenly, but a spoon or beaters should work as well.
- Add the dry ingredients, and stir until combined. Try not to over-mix.
- Lastly, add the caramel chips and the chopped ginger. Fold until combined.
Using a medium or large cookie scoop, place cookies about three inches apart onto the cookie sheets. **If you’d like to freeze the dough for later, fill one sheet tray with pre-scooped cookies, as below, and freeze right on the sheet tray until no longer sticky. You can then store them in ziplock bags or containers in the freezer until ready to bake (just add a couple minutes onto the baking time).**
Fresh cookies will take anywhere from 10-17 minutes to bake, depending on the size of the scoop. For the size pictured, I started checking them at 12 minutes, and found they were usually done around 14 minutes, with a golden-brown exterior that was still soft to the touch. But check more than once, and when in doubt, always take them out early, as they will harden slightly as they cool anyway. You want them to keep their beautiful soft/crisp balance and definitely not to get over baked. Enjoy, and let me know what you think of the flavors – I hope you love them as much as I do!
Till next time,
Pies & Pinups