Chestnut cookies with salt caramel filling and a wild splash of chocolate are not your grandma’s Christmas cookies. Definitely one you will defiantly want to pass down to your grandkids though!
I love being that grandma that makes cookies different from everyone else. Who doesn’t love hearing, “grandma you make the best food”!
Chestnuts are not the nut you will most often find in a cookie. You will agree they should be, because the flavor of a roasted chestnut is unlike any other nut we cook with.
I have made chestnut butter cookies before and often just dip an end in melted chocolate. Certainly a chocolate dipped cookie is festive enough on their own, but adding salted caramel between two cookies, made these the best I’ve ever had!
If you’ve ever been to NYC around Christmas time, the comforting smell of roasted nuts, particularly roasted chestnuts, fill the air.
I’m not sure where the tradition of roasting chestnuts at Christmas time came from. Perhaps the famous Nat King Cole’s song ‘Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire’, had something to do with it.
If you are Italian, you probably grew up with an abundance of chestnuts in a variety of recipes. Certainly by now, you have made my Sage and Chestnut Sauce.
In fact, in Italy there is a festival season for chestnuts that starts in October and runs through November.
If you know nothing about this divine nut, you are in for a treat. Not only is the nut itself, very meaty and somewhat soft, but they are loaded with nutrients.
It is said that chestnuts are great for digestive health and stabilizing blood sugar levels, but also great for brain function and better skin. During the holiday season, I need better brain function (whew, exhausting)!
Who ever decided that coarse grains of sea salt and caramelized melted sugar should go together, was Brilliant!
Well, of course it was a French pastry chef back in the 70’s that first made the fusion of caramel and sea salt.
In fact, once he knew he had created something amazing, he patented his creation. From there, Haagen Daz and Starbucks jumped on board; Salt Caramel everything became the rage.
Other Uses Of Salt Caramel
While salt caramel is so good on sweets, such as those fun Caramel Popcorn Balls we love at Halloween, or a lovely autumn Salt Caramel Apple Muffin, it’s even better when incorporated into chili, savory sauces for meat!
Fleur de sel, literally “flower of salt”, is the finest and most delicate of salts. Adding this delicate salt to these salt caramel cookies will, of course, make them feel all the more special, but a coarse sea salt will work just fine too.
Something you will hear me say often when I am creating a dessert recipe is the need to add salt to a sweet dish.
Why? Because salt makes sweet, sweeter! It simply does something to the taste buds. Caramel is nothing more that melted sugar and butter. But add salt to that mixture, and suddenly the melted sugar tastes magically sweeter.
Nuts Over Cookies
Ever wonder why cookies always remain one of the most popular sweet treats in the world? First, of all, everyone loves a little sweet treat now and then. But let’s face it, cookies are the only sweet treat that makes sense to take, share, give or have anywhere!
Cookies come in all shapes, sizes and flavors and make for fantastic gift. If nuts in your cookies are your thing, there are so many variations of nuts; pistachio, almond, peanuts, walnuts, a favorite of mine the black walnut, but rarely do you find chestnuts in cookies. Too bad because they make for the most delicious nut cookie of all.
Chestnuts, when roasted, have an almost buttery texture and a delicate floury sweet flavor that almost resembles a roasted sweet potato. Perhaps that is because a chestnut is considered both a fruit and a nut. Its sweet, yet meaty flavor, puts it in a rather unique category, which lends chestnuts to enhance both sweet or savory dishes.
Cookies often have one thing in common, besides sugar, a creamy buttery fat; the glue that forms all the other yummy ingredients together. But what if you are a dairy-free cookie eater? No worries, a variety of oils can be used in the place of butter, particularly coconut oil.
Crunchy cookie or soft cookie, that is the question? People are divided in this question about favorite cookie characteristics. As for me, I am definitely a crunch cookie eater. A soft cookie for me is more like a little cake, and that’s ok too. Tossing an egg or two into the cookie batter makes for a softer cookie.
Butter Makes Everything Better
Is there any other cookie that tastes better than a cookie made with butter? I didn’t think so. Butter, in all it’s creamy texture and luscious flavor, is what makes a cookie both delicate or crunchy, depending on the added ingredients to the recipe.
Butter cookies leave a ‘melt in your mouth’ texture and flavor that is difficult to substitute. Butter just makes everything better!
Chocolate lovers? Well… we just love chocolate! Chocolate added to any recipe automatically gives food a deeper, earthier flavor; think of a ‘mole sauce’ with its bitter spicy flavor, dark rich color. Who’d have thought that chocolate was the culprit in that savory recipe?
Who’d have thought, if you taste raw cacao before it becomes chocolate, that it could be made into something sweet? Well, it was kind of like that when I decided to use chestnuts as the nut in this holiday cookie, then dress it up with chocolate!
Chocolate in a cookie recipe is, of course, going to give the cookie a dark rich color and flavor, but melt and drizzle chocolate all over the top of any cookie, really… any cookie, and you have what looks like a masterpiece, not just any ole cookie.
The chocolate seems to outline and emphasize the beauty of all the other ingredients. Drizzle? By drizzle, I really mean just that! Stick your fork in a cup of melted chocolate and sling that stuff everywhere! Mmmmmm.
Not sure who first decided that Santa had to have cookies and milk upon his visit to your house, but I am sure it fast became a challenge to see who made the cookie that Santa loved most. (wink) We all know that Santa probably really preferred a slice of pizza and a beer, or a glass of wine and a lovely charcuterie plate!
Let’s face it, Christmas cookies are for the kids and the kid in us all. Something magical happens when we create cute shapes that remind us of the magic of Christmas and if that’s not enough, the smell that fills the home of cookies baking in the oven would be reason enough.
Whatever reason you and your family make a tradition out of making Christmas cookies, do try my fabulous Chestnut Cookies with Salt Caramel filling and Chocolate Drizzle. They are both very adult in flavor and very whimsical in appearance. And don’t forget to save a few cookies with a glass of milk for you-know-who!
- Confection sugar
- Mascarpone or Cream Cheese
- Roasted chestnuts
- Salt Caramel
- Mixer – Stand up mixer or hand mixer
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet pan
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutter – one smaller than the other of same design
Chestnut Cookies With Salt Caramel FillingCourse: Cookies, Dessert, HolidaysCuisine: Mediterranean
Chestnut cookies with salt caramel filling and a wild splash of chocolate.
Butter – 2 cups, room temperature
Confectioners sugar – ¾ cups
Mascarpone or cream cheese – 1 cup, room temperature
Roasted chestnuts – 1/4 cup, ground
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Flour – 3 ½ cups, more for rolling out dough
- Blend butter and sugar in mixer or food processor, or even by hand. Whisk in the mascarpone, nuts, and salt. Slowly incorporate the flour until the dough is pliable by hand. Sprinkle a little flour out onto a work surface, roll out the dough, and press cookies. Don’t forget to press a window with a smaller cookie press into half the cookies so that each cookie bottom will have a top.
- Bake at 325 for about 13 minutes. Cool.
- Assemble cookies simply by spreading a schmear of room temperature caramel onto the lower cookie and place a windowed cookie on top.
- Chocolate Drizzle
- Melt about 1 cup of chocolate. While hot and syrupy, take a fork and quickly drizzle across prepared cookies.
- These cookies will keep in the fridge for several weeks!