Duck fat + sugar + chocolate = magic
On Sunday afternoon, I entered and won for the people’s choice category my first ever cooking competition.
The annual Cookie Takedown host by Matt Timms was held at the Bell House and it was a cookie crazy, eggnog spiked fun filled afternoon had by all.
30 contestants competed, each one of us bringing in 300 hundred cookies for the masses to enjoy and then they voted for their favorite of their afternoon.
Everyone brought their A game out and I was honored to have been chosen as the fan favorite. I wish I could have tasted all those cookies and frankly I don’t know how the crowd did it, but the tastes that I did get were excellent. I was especially lucky to be surrounded by 4 lovely and talented women, who just made the afternoon even more fun. My immediate neighbor actually found out that she was competing just the Thursday before. Considering I spent two weeks working on my recipe and two different test batches were made, props to her for coming out and baking an excellent batch of cookies.
As to my recipe, I’m not sure why or how I decided on duck fat caramel but I love duck fat and I love caramel so I figured I’d experiment and see if they would work together. Unlike using bacon fat to make caramel, you don’t get a meaty taste, instead it is an added richness that you don’t get with butter alone. The cookies take a lot of work to put together, but it’s worth it and those you share it with will love you too! So far every reaction has been amazement at the fact that there is duck fat in the cookies, fear (about trying duck fat in cookies) and then love. Also, don’t be shy about the amount of salt you sprinkle on top between the chocolate and caramel it is needed to cut down on the richness of the cookie. I used fleur de sel that I brought home from a trip from Paris a few summers ago, but any sea salt will do.
Salted Duck Fat Caramel Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
For the Caramel:
5 tablespoons duck fat
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus a little extra to top the caramel
For the cookies:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces dark chocolate (no more than 60%)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 cup reserve duck fat caramel
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (6 TBSP room temp, 4 to be melted with chocolate)
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 bag (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt to top the cookies
To make the caramel:
Prepare an 8X8 baking pan, lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, sprayed with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan render the duck fat and melt the butter and whisk in the cream. Heat just to a boil and add the vanilla bean and pod. Cover and steep for at least 10 minutes, can let sit for more if you like to infuse the vanilla.
In a heavy bottom pan mix together the sugar, corn syrup and water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has melted and turn to golden brown. Do not mix with a spoon but you can swirl the pan a few times to avoid hot spots. Once the sugar is golden brown remove from the heat and carefully add the cream mixture, it will boil up, so be careful and pour away from your face. At this time, add the vanilla extract and salt. Return to the burner, add a candy thermometer and cook until 248 degrees. This will happen very quickly. Reserve 1 cup of caramel for the cookie batter, then carefully pour the remaining caramel into the prepared pan and sprinkle the extra sea salt on top. Let cool completely, cover and place in the refrigerator until solid. This can be done ahead of time.
To make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate, cocoa powder, instant espresso, reserved caramel and 4 tablespoons of butter until smooth. Set aside.
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the remaining butter and sugars together. Add the eggs one at a time until well combined, then the vanilla extract. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, careful to not over-beat. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips. Set the batter aside.
Remove the caramel from the fridge and working quickly with a sharp chefs knife or a bench scraper (this works best) cut the caramel into long strips about 1/4 inch in length and then into 1/4 inch squares. If the caramel begins to soften, place in the freezer for a few minutes, while you scoop the cookie dough onto the baking sheets.
Scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets, using a small cookie scoop or in rounded balls and using your thumb press down in the middle. Place a piece of the cut caramel into the center of the thumbprint and close the dough around the caramel. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to set, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.