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There were days when I was one, and my fridge represented that of a woman cooking for one. My freezer was always stocked with salmon fillets, and the fridge bursting with sweet potato and tenderstem broccoli. The endless Tupperware boxes for all my meal prep would always be stacked haphazardly, so if you opened the cupboard door just a tad, they’d scuttle out in a hurry. Weekends came and went, almost always consisting of “dippy” eggs {soft boiled for 6mins, of course} and soldiers for breakfast and coffee from a one-cup cafetière that did my caffeine intake justice.

Chocolate and pretzels

It became our joke when we started dating that “my fridge was always empty” or that I “had no snacks in the cupboard”. Minus the slim bar of dark chocolate that sat in the fridge door, I could never trust myself with a packet of chocolate Digestives {my favourite} for fear that I may inhale them all at once. And if I ever baked, my Tupperware collection would go to good use to transport chocolate cookies on the Piccadilly Line for eight stops – jostled and melted by the time they reached the office.

Then I met you, our first date lingering into the night and two speak-easy bars. You told me one vital piece of information that night, which I promptly forgot when I made two salted caramel chocolate fondants and brought them over on our fourth date, to pair with the meal you’d cooked for me. You didn’t like chocolate. I remember you eating it sheepishly, remarking that the caramel centre was the most delicious bit. I told you that you didn’t have to finish it but you mmmm’d and ahhhh’d to make me feel better, because there was still that air of awkwardness about my mistake that you knew might make me feel embarrassed.

Cookie dough

The next morning you made mugs of steaming coffee with your one-cup cafetière that we shared on the sofa, toes tucked beneath us, the sleep of the night in our eyes. Two and a half years later we’ve upgraded to a six-cup cafetière for our morning ritual, and a Lavazza milk frother – the first purchases we made together as we prepare to move into our first home as two. It’s these moments, of sipping coffee bleary-eyed with you, that are the moments I love in our day. It’s “our” time, without even ever realising it.

Now I make you cookies, without chocolate – because your nose would wrinkle otherwise. Usually “man cookies” to be precise. Made with cornflakes and oats, and sprinkled with sea salt for good measure. But if there were a cookie that might steal your heart more, it would be this one. A cookie with a little chocolate {so I can eat the chocolatey bits}, hints of Ethiopia Uraga coffee, flecks of Maldon sea salt and generous pools of salted caramel – an ode to one of our first dates.

Chocolate caramel pretzel cookies

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cookies

Prep time: 3-4hrs
Cook time: 13-15mins
Makes 24 cookies

1 can condensed milk
225g unsalted butter, browned
4tbsp coffee {made with instant or freshly ground beans + boiling water}
100g granulated sugar
320g light brown sugar
240g rye flour
240g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking power
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch fine sea salt
2 eggs
2tsp vanilla bean paste
200g 70% dark chocolate
, roughly chopped
60g salted pretzels, roughly chopped
+ flaky Maldon sea salt to finish

To make the caramel:

  1. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil, then carefully submerge your tin of condensed milk in the water, ensuring the top is covered completely.
    N.B. If your tin has a paper slip, remove this before putting it in the water.
  2. Pop a lid on top and then boil for 3hrs, topping up the water that may have evaporated as you go, so the tin is always submerged. Meanwhile, prep your cookie dough.

To make the cookies:

  1. Melt your butter in a saucepan over a low to medium heat, stirring occasionally and swirling the butter around the pan. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam and sizzle around the edges. Keep on the heat for about 5-8 minutes, until the butter starts to turn a golden brown. The milk solids on the bottom of the pan will start to toast and darken in colour and it will smell intensely buttery, nutty, and rich.
    N.B. Your butter can burn, so keep the heat low to medium and stir regularly, keeping an eye on it at all times.
  2. Now make your coffee. You only need a little bit so either mix 1tsp instant powder with half a cup of water, or use freshly ground beans in a cafetière and take 4tbsp from that. Add this to your browned butter.
  3. Set the saucepan aside to cool for 30mins.
  4. Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F.
  5. Once the butter and coffee mixture has cooled, pour into a large bowl and whisk in the sugars using an electric whisk until pale in colour.
  6. Add your eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition and then add 2tsp of vanilla extract. Whisk once more.
  7. In a separate bowl, mix your flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  8. Add this to your wet ingredients in thirds, whisking after each addition. Then use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and combine once more so no flecks of flour are left.
  9. Add your roughly chopped chocolate and pretzels, then use a spoon to ensure that everything is evenly distributed.
  10. Place the bowl in the fridge to rest for 1hr.
  11. When the caramel has cooled completely, take your bowl out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for 15mins so it’s easier to work with. When ready, add teaspoons of caramel in and amongst the cracks in the dough. Do not mix. You want pools of caramel in your cookie dough. I use a spoon to “open up” parts of the cookie dough that are really stuck together to wedge some caramel in there.
  12. Line two large baking trays {that will fit in your fridge!} with parchment.
  13. Using a size 20 portioner or ice cream scoop, scoop balls of cookie dough onto your trays, spacing them an inch or so apart. They are going to spread!
    N.B. A size 20 portioner is the equivalent of about 50g of cookie dough, so if you don’t have one, you can use scales to measure out your dough.
  14. Pop your tray in the fridge for 30mins for the dough to firm up again.
  15. Bake for 13-15mins, until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden in colour. They should still be slightly gooey in the centre if you want a slightly more chewy texture.

Recipe by Charlotte Avent

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Rosie Wild

    June 22, 2020

    Lottie that’s the sweetest (pun unintended) story ! What a lovely way of describing one becoming two!
    The cookies look delicious as well, I don’t have a kitchen though so I will have to imagine the taste!

    • Reply

      Charlotte

      June 22, 2020

      Haha love the pun! Glad you liked it, and hopefully at some point in the future you can make a batch of these when you have a kitchen 😉

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