…which are basically the shortbread fingers or squares (if you wish to cut them like so) with a caramel-sort-of layer in the middle. According to Nick Malgieri, the cookies are very popular in New Zealand. I’ve never been there and can’t confirm this fact, but, in our family they were well received. The recipe is my adaptation of the Malgieri’s recipe from “A baker’s tour”. I added some salt to the filling, I think it’s necessary (the cookies were sweet enough even with this addition). I’ve also let myself to question his idea of spreading the steaming-hot filling (cooked on a stove shortly before) over the uncooked shortbread crust. I cooled the filling, stirring often, before spreading it over the chilled crust. It worked well.
Makes about 36 cookies, depends on how you cut them
For the dough:
- 14 tbsp (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp light corn syrup
- One 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
- Generous pinch of kosher salt
- ½ tsp natural rum extract (optional, but nice)
Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch buttered pan with parchment paper, butter the paper. Set aside.
Beat the butter with sugar and salt together with an electric mixer (use a paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) until soft and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. On lowest speed, beat in the flour, scraping the bowl, until the dough is smooth.
Scrape three-quarters of the dough into the prepared pan. Press the dough down evenly, without excessive compressing. Chill the dough-lined pan. Form a ball from the rest of the dough, wrap it into plastic and either leave it on the counter to crumble it later over the filling, or put the dough in the freezer and grate it over the filling later (it’s a very common Russian way to finish a tart).
For the filling, bring the butter, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring often. Allow the mixture to boil gently until it starts to thicken and becomes a very light caramel color. Transfer the filling into a stainless steel bowl and cool it to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Remove the dough-lined pan from the refrigerator and spread the filling over the dough, working quickly with an offset spatula. Crumble or grate the rest of the dough over the filling.
Bake until the filling is a deep caramel color and the dough and crumb topping are baked through, about 30 minutes.
Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan on a rack. Lift the slab out of the pan to a cutting board before it has cooled completely. Then cut the slab into rectangles or squares.
The cookies can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for a couple of days.