Preparation / Directions:
To make the shortbread:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the coconut on a baking pan, and toast until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring halfway through toasting. Transfer the coconut to a cutting board, and finely chop. Place the chopped coconut in a bowl.
2. Place the pecans on the baking pan, and toast until fragrant and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, turning halfway through toasting. Transfer the pecans to the cutting board, and finely chop. Place the pecan pieces in the bowl with the coconut.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, flour, and salt; mix until combined. Add the reserved toasted coconut and pecans.
4. Form the dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator, and chill until firm, 30 to 45 minutes. 5. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/4-inch fluted pastry cutter, cut out 68 circles from the dough. Place the circles, spaced 1 inch apart, on the lined baking sheets; chill dough 5 to 10 minutes.
6. Using a 3/4-inch-round aspic cutter (or the large end of a pastry tip), cut out the centers from half the circles.
7. Bake the shortbread until golden brown, about 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time. Transfer the shortbread to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store the shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to assemble the cookies.
To make the caramel filling:
1. Place the sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small
saucepan. Set over medium-high heat, and stir to combine.
Bring the mixture
to a boil, and cook until dark amber in color, about 5
minutes, using a pastry
brush dipped in water to wash down the sides of the pan to
crystallization as the mixture boils.
2. Remove the pan from the heat, and gradually whisk in the
heavy cream and
the butter. Transfer the filling to a medium
stainless-steel bowl, and let cool.
To assemble the cookies:
Spoon or pipe approximately 1/2 teaspoon caramel on each of
circles that have not been cut. Place a cut shortbread
circle on top of each
caramel-covered one, and drizzle the remaining caramel over
the tops of the
cookies. Let the caramel set at least 2 hours or overnight,
and store the
assembled cookies in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Rich, nutty shortbread cookies are especially irresistible when
sandwiched around buttery caramel. Be sure to chill the dough
before rolling it out, and to loosen the dough from the work
an offset spatula several times during rolling-this will make
the cutout cookies easier.
Before baking, choose the best-shaped cookies to be the "tops,"
cut holes in the centers with an aspic cutter or the large end
of a pastry
tip. When the cookies are assembled, a bead of caramel will show
through the center.