One of my favourite types of cookies in the Netherlands are Romeos. They’re a circular cookie with a center of crispy caramel and almond shavings. I’ve looked for recipes all over the place, but I’ve not been able to find one. So I’ve decided to try and do my own experiment.
I started with the caramel. I’d never made caramel before and I thought it would be really difficult: that I’d need a thermometer and other special things. Turns out: all you need is patience. Basically all you do is combine sugar and water, and let it boil for as long as it takes to form caramel. Which is about 10 minutes. What you need is:
- 1 cup of sugar (200 grams)
- 1/3 cup of water (100 grams)
- Salt, butter or vanilla sugar, depending on the direction you want to take your caramel.
Put the sugar and the water in a pan with a light coloured interior. The light colour of the pan will really help with determining when your caramel is done.
Bring the water to a boil and stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. The moment the sugar is dissolved STOP STIRRING (!!!). I cannot emphasize this enough. I watched a bunch of youtube videos on making a caramel, all of them said to stop stirring, and I didn’t because I thought it was nonsense. And instead of caramel, I remade my crystalized sugar.
So in attempt #2, I left the mixture alone to bubble on the stove and it went really smoothly. Just gently swirl the pan around if you want to feel like
you’re doing something, but you don’t even have to do it that often. Once the caramel’s got the right colour, you’ve got to be quick and get it of the stove. If you’re gonig to add butter, do it it now. The caramel will continue to brown after it’s taken off. So you’ve got to be prepared for whatever you want to do with it, so have a sheet of parchment paper at hand or have your cookies ready.
Cookie #1: Caramel Crunch
For cookie number one, I made a sheet of caramel, which I smashed into little pieces. I made sugar cookies using this recipe:
- 150 gram butter
- 200 gram self-raising flour
- 100 gram sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- Bit of salt
- 8 grams vanilla sugar
- 75 grams of smashed caramel pieces
I combined all the ingredients into dough and made cookies of 20 gram each. Baked them for 20 minutes at 180⁰C.
Cookie #2: Romeo’s
First I made the cookies. Using the recipe above, but without the smashed caramel pieces,
Extra ingredients for the cookies:
- Shaved almonds
- Lemon juice of ¼ of a lemon
Extra ingredienst for the caramel:
- 25 grams of salted butter
I added the lemon juice to make the whole dough less solid, so I could use a piping bag to make circles on a sheet of parchment paper. I put a few shaved almonds in the center of each cookie.
I then made the caramel, and when it had the right colour I added 25 grams of salted butter. This gave the caramel a more creamy texture and stopped the caramel from browning any further. I used a spoon to pour a little bit of caramel into each circle of cookie dough. I didn’t fill the circles up completely, because I used self-raising flour and the cookies would get bigger with baking.
I then baked them for 20 minutes in an oven of 180⁰C and let them cool down completely before taking them of the parchment paper.
What I learned:
Do not stir!
I think this GIF I made of the process demonstrates that. You think you’re doing well, right up until suddenly it turns into granulated sugar again.
It’s both difficult and easy:
Caramel is both easier and more difficult that I figured. While you don’t need a thermometer, you cannot leave your stove when you are making caramel. The sugar can go from sugar syrup to caramel to burnt sugar in under a minute. And even when you take the pan of the stove, the burning can still happen because the pan is gets incredibly hot.
You can make add any flavour you like. Just add the vanilla, lemon, salt or butter right after you get the colour you want, stirr it in and use it how you want. If you’re using it in cookies, do make sure that you spread it thinly: because other wise it’s like candy. Especially when adding butter, you make a sort of Werther’s Original, which you wouldn’t want full-size in your cookie.
It gets really hard, real quick:
The caramel on your spoon, in your pan, on your table, basically anywhere you get it, solidifies really quickly. And I mean really quickly. It makes you think that you’ve added a permanent feature to your pan in the shape of a caramel droplets. But fear not: the moment you get it warm, you can remove it easily. Using the dishwasher at 60 ⁰C removed the caramel from my utensils with no problem at all.
It made me want to experiment:
I still want to make a chewy caramel. And a proper liquid sea-salt caramel to use as a liquid core for a chocolate cupcake. And I want to make cookies that are drizzled with crunchy caramel. Those recipes are still in my head and I haven’t gotten around to trying them. But the plans are there, and now that I know that caramel is doable, I’m less afraid to try and experiment.
So hopefully there will be more caramel inspired creations in the near future!