I’m embarrassed to admit how quickly these Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies have disappeared from my kitchen. In all fairness, I did share 2 with friends to taste test, but the rest were eaten up in record time because they’re just that good. I knew that I wanted to create some kind of sandwich cookie, or linzer style cookie for Valentine’s Day because it really is one of my all time favourite holidays. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been sharing lots of love and pink themed recipes over on Instagram and here on the blog, too!
My favourite kind of dessert is one that satisfies the taste buds and the sweet tooth, but also nourishes the body. Baking with feel good ingredients not only helps to avoid sugar crashes and tummy aches, but also makes eating dessert just that much more enjoyable. The key is to make your desserts undetectably healthy–so good you can’t believe they’re good for you! Know what I mean, garbanzo bean?
Enter Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies. Definitely one of my most recent “secretly healthy” bakes that checks all the boxes. It’s a rich and buttery shortbread cookie filled with a salted caramel paste but the catch? There’s no dairy, butter, oil or refined sugar in the recipe. Sounds almost to good to be true!
Justin, taste tester, called them, “soft and scrumptious” and went back in for second bites.
So let’s talk ingredients, shall we?
What’s In These Salted Caramel Sandwich Cookies?
These Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies are vegan, gluten free, oil free, nut free and refined sugar free. They come together in one bowl, and can be made into any shape of your liking! Heart shape totally optional, but always adds a little fun.
Tahini → is one of my all time favourite bases to use in baking. It serves as a wonderful alternative to oil or butter. It’s nut free, and beautifully silky. If you’re thinking, “what? tahini in a dessert recipe?” trust me–the nutty and slightly bitter flavour is a winner when paired with sweetness. If you don’t believe me, halva is an existing popular dessert that’s basically made of tahini and sugar. As an alternative to tahini, you can use cashew butter or sunflower butter, but you may need to work with less flour as it tends to be less runny than tahini.
1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour → although I usually use oat flour, or single ingredient gluten-free flours when I bake, I would highly recommend this blend. Why? This flour blend gives the cookies more of a shortbread texture, and for these sandwich cookies in particular, I definitely recommend it. You can absolutely use oat flour instead, but this 1 to 1 blend is my recommended favourite.
Maple Syrup → is the sweetener we’re using. It’s liquid, which is important for the cookie texture and has a very neutral flavour.
Medjool Dates → create the base of the salted caramel paste. Medjool dates specifically have a very caramel-like flavour, which can be enhanced with a pinch of maca if you’d like.
secrets to success
If you’re into the heart shaped cookie sandwiches I created, you’ll want to use a small heart shaped cookie cutter. I used this small cookie cutter, and for the circular shape, just used the mouth of a jar I happened to have in the kitchen.
It’s best to use a nonstick baking mat to bake these cookies as they are oil-free and can be a little delicate. You don’t want to scrape them off the baking tray with a spatula, because there’s definitely risk of ruining the shape. As an alternative, use parchment paper, which is also a great way to roll this dough out mess-free.
When making your caramel date paste, I recommend soaking your dates in advance if they aren’t super soft already. I would also really recommend using medjool dates as they naturally have a subtly caramel-like flavour, and are the softest variety in my opinion. To make the paste, you basically process your dates with hot water or if you’d like, coconut cream. I personally prefer to use splashes of water until a paste forms as I find it’s a lot more flavour neutral. Salt it to your liking, or don’t! Totally up to you.
If you try these Salted Caramel Sandwich Cookies, tag me on Instagram@veggiekinsso I can see your delicious re-creations and for a chance to be featured! As always, I love when you share your reviews in the comments below, and if you make any fun substitutions, let me know how it worked out below too!
12 pitted medjool dates (soak in hot water beforehand if not soft and gooey)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup warm water or coconut milk (more as needed)
optional pinch of maca powder
optional pinch of lucuma powder
Preheat your oven to 350F while you prepare your cookie dough
In a large bowl, whisk tahini, maple syrup, vanilla and baking powder until smooth. Sift in gluten free flour and use a spatula to stir until cookie dough forms. Dough should be workable and not sticky.
Transfer dough onto a nonstick surface and roll about 1/4 of an inch thick using a rolling pin or bottle. Use a circular cookie cutter to cut out cookie shapes (make sure to make an even number of circles).
Next use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out a small heart in the center of half of the cookies, then transfer onto a baking tray and bake for 9-12 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden brown. Cookies will continue to bake while cooling so don’t overbake!
Allow cookies to cool completely, and while you wait, start by preparing your salted caramel date paste. Drain soaked dates, transfer to a food processor and process to break down into a paste. Scrape sides down in between as needed, add vanilla, maca and lucuma if using and stream water or coconut milk into the processor as you continue to blend until completely smooth. Finally, add salt to taste.
Once cookies are completely cool, fill with about a tablespoon (or as much as your heart desires) with salted caramel paste*
*I highly recommend filling cookies just before serving. The moisture in the salted caramel paste can soften the cookies if stored after filled. It’s actually quite delicious soft, so if you like a soft cookie, then fill all the cookies, and store in an airtight container. Otherwise, to keep cookies snappier, fill before enjoying.
Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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