I want to start off with a formal apology to Molly Baz and the Bon Appetit Team for my bastardization of this recipe. There’s probably some existential question out there that asks, how many aspects of a person’s body can you remove until it’s no longer that person? I don’t have the answer for that- I just bake for fun. I was looking through my fridge one day and that leftover salted caramel kept staring back to me just waiting to be used. After a little digging, I found this recipe for a Caramel Pecan Shortbread that looked simple enough to put together, except for the fact that it called for store-bought dulce de leche, pecans and small nonpareil- none of which I had. In spite of this, I decided to wing it, making more substitutions than any home baker should.
Still, I progressed, crossing my fingers in hopes I wasn’t about to waste ingredients. Now if you haven’t had dulce de leche, it’s basically sweetened condensed milk that’s been cooked down until the sugar caramelizes and it turns a light amber color. In many ways it’s just a variation of caramel sauce- which led to me choosing the recipe. Next speed bump came in the form of nuts with the recipe calling for pecans. Unfortunately all I had was just the right amount of walnuts which proved to be viable. Pecans and Walnuts don’t differ too much in flavor or texture, so I’d say this swap was perfectly fine. This dough is great because it comes together in the food processor and is then rolled into a log to cut once solid. Then came the third substitution of the day: nonpareil which is just a fancy term for small rounded sprinkles. I realized later on when comparing the pictures that mine were considerably large, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Still, I pressed on, coating the cookies in diluted caramel and rolling them through the sprinkles which was more mess than I’m usually cool with.
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(Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit)
The finished cookies tasted delicious with a strong caramel flavor considering it’s been spread throughout the dough. The nonpareil added a welcomed crunchiness as well- a good balance from the sweet, buttery cookie. The same enjoyment couldn’t be said about the appearance. The large nonpareil looked like the chunky older cousins of their petite and delicate counterparts, and they didn’t coat the cookies in the exact same way. I even put a little disclaimer on my Instagram story to anyone who has trypophobia as the cookies could be a little inducing. Still, the flavor was there and I was more than pleased that my substitutions weren’t a waste of time or ingredients. I’d definitely make these again- likely without Frankenstein-ing my way through it. Remember though, that Frankenstein was the name of the creator, not the monster. Not sure how that applies here.
Full Recipe | Method by Molly Baz of Bon Appetit: