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baking/ celebration/ gluten free/ some for now + some for later

Orange and Almond Caramel Sandwich Cookies dipped in dark chocolate

Chocolate dipped Orange and Almond gluten free shortbread sandwich cookies with tahini maple caramel – a Christmas cookie recipe.

I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas, let’s get festive! It’s time to make and wrap and gift delicious things to family and friends – my favourite way to feel the festive spirit. It’s time to bake Christmas Cakes and cookies – these Orange and Almond Caramel Sandwich Cookies – dipped in dark chocolate and filled with healthy caramel. They’re delicious, gluten free wholefood shortbread goodness, perfect to give to yourself *you deserve it* and your friends. 

I love making cookies to give as gifts, and this year I really wanted/needed some that weren’t too fussy to make – there is a time and a place for fussy and this year sure isn’t it! I also wanted something I could make while still keeping up with all the other things; I don’t have a huge block of time to spare uninterrupted, and I’m guessing you don’t either! As much as I love gingerbread, I wanted to bake something on the healthier side – for balance. But, I still wanted something totally delicious (not negotiable) and that looked really, really good too – healthy, but without looking or tasting that way!

These cookies are all that. Orange and Almond Caramel Sandwich Cookies, dipped in dark chocolate and filled with the easiest caramel you will ever make, that just happens to be healthy too. A very Merry Christmas, to you!

I hope these cookies find a spot on your table, or in your cookie tin, and make some lovely gifts to give to those around you.

Orange and Almond Shortbread Cookie recipe for giving gifts to friends

These shortbread cookies are delicious at every stage – you can leave them plain and their orange flavour will shine through, perfect just as they are and right at home beside a cup of tea or a glass of milk. Santa would be very happy with a little plate of these for his midnight snack, I just know it.

Or, you can dip them in dark chocolate and sprinkle them with a little pinch of flaked salt. Yes, yes, yes. I see what you’ve done there, and I like it very much.

But, there is one step further you can go if you really want to go all out – you can sandwich the chocolate dipped cookies with a spoon of thick, maple tahini caramel. Then you have yourself a very special cookie indeed; one filled with goodness and the perfect gift for yourself, your teacher, your family or friends. Santa wouldn’t be mad with one of these either!

Because these cookies are great at every stage you can choose your own cookie adventure – if you run out of an element, or can’t be bothered with the chocolate or caramel, never fear! We kept some cookies from each of the stages – some plain, some chocolate dipped and some sandwiched – for the times when we wanted chocolate, and also for when we wanted a simple shortbread to dunk in a glass of milk, plus some sandwiched cookies for a real treat! We were happy to have them in all their varieties, and you will be too.

dipping orange and almond shortbread cookies into dark chocolate for making sandwich cookies
chocolate dipped gluten free shortbread cookies with salt

Making cookies is a process, and that’s all part of the fun. Each of the stages can be done one at a time so you can totally squeeze making these in between all the other things; very handy!

Mix up the dough, then let it chill. When you’re ready, roll and bake. Then, when you’ve got the time, you can dip the cooled cookies in a little melted chocolate and leave them to set while you’re off doing something else.

The maple tahini caramel is the easiest caramel you will ever make which, quite frankly, is what we all need at this time of year. It has a great flavour and texture, and brings all the caramel vibes without the sugar high or the burnt fingertips. You make the caramel in a blender and it literally takes 5 minutes start to finish, so no stress there either! A teaspoonful dolloped between two cookies and you’re all done. Christmas cookies sorted. Santa will be happy.

orange and almond gluten free shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt

I love a cut cookie, but rolling and cutting them can definitely feel like a mission. The cookie dough for these is a little bit delicate because it is made only with almonds, but never fear! I developed a technique to make it easier to roll and transfer to the baking trays :

Firstly, make sure your dough is chilled. Second, don’t roll the dough thinner than 1/4 inch or 0.6 cm thick otherwise the cookies will be too delicate and very hard to move.

Lastly, cut the cookies then remove the excess dough from around each cookie – now, here comes the trick – instead of trying to pick-up or slide the cookies onto the baking tray as you normally would, gently invert each cookie onto your hand by sliding your hand under the bottom baking paper and flipping it over onto your other hand, then gently peel the baking paper away from the back of the cookie leaving you with a perfectly formed cookie in your hand. Carefully flip the cookie onto the paper lined baking tray that will be going into the oven, leaving plenty of room between each cookie so they don’t bake together! This way you can cut lots of cookies from each roll (decreasing the number of times you need to roll, and your rolling time) but also prevent them from being too close together. After all that hard work you definitely don’t want them to bake together!

Give it a go and you will quickly get the hang of it! Flip, flip! The crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, tender orange-scented gluten free cookies shall be your reward! Let’s get to it.

Orange and Almond Sandwich Cookies with Tahini Maple Caramel and Dark Chocolate

Makes around 40 individual cookies, or 20 sandwiched cookies. Feel free to halve or double the recipe for more or less cookies!

The amount of chocolate you need will all depend on how much you would like on your cookies! I melted 160g which was much more than we needed for all the cookies we wanted to dip (sneaky truffles ensued) – 100g should be enough to halfway dip at least 20 cookies, but feel free to melt more if you would like to dip all of your cookies, or want more chocolate coverage. Using a narrow, deep bowl makes it much easier to dip the cookies.

The amount of caramel in the recipe should be enough to sandwich around 20 cookies – but again, feel free to make more or less, keeping the ratios the same, if you would like a little more or a little less caramel – or perhaps some extra just to spoon from the jar, or to fill some truffles with (roll cold caramel into little balls, then freeze before quickly coating in melted chocolate).

If the weather is hot, say over 25°C, I recommend storing any sandwiched cookies in the refrigerator until 10 – 15 minutes before serving to avoid the caramel melting and the cookies sliding – the coconut oil in the caramel is solid at cool room temperature, but can make the caramel a bit softer if the weather gets hot! If the weather is cool, the cookies in all their forms can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a week or so.


For the Orange and Almond Shortbread Cookies:

90g / 3.2oz salted butter, melted
360g / 12.7 oz almond meal or almond flour (around 3 cups, tightly packed)
zest of 4 oranges
½ cup (120ml / 4fl oz) maple syrup
2 teaspoons (10ml / 0.34fl oz) vanilla paste

For the Dark Chocolate coating:

100 – 160g (3.5 – 5.6oz) dark chocolate
salt flakes for sprinkling

For the Tahini Maple Caramel filling:

55g / 1.9oz coconut oil, melted
⅓ cup (80ml / 2.7fl oz) hulled tahini
¼ cup (60ml / 2fl oz) maple syrup
½ teaspoon (2.5ml / 0.08fl oz) salt flakes

To make the cookies:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Measure out the almond meal/flour into a medium sized bowl and stir through the orange zest. Add in the maple syrup, vanilla and melted butter and stir until the mixture is completely smooth and everything is well incorporated.

Bring the mixture together into a ball and wrap tightly in a silicone wrap (I use these ones) and place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or so. If you’d like to speed up the chilling, you can also place the wrapped dough in the freezer for around 20 minutes. 

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of baking paper until the dough is around 1/4 inch or 0.6 cm thick – I like to roll half the dough at a time, keeping the other half the fridge while I’m rolling, to make it more manageable. Don’t roll the dough too thinly, or it will be hard to move once cut.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line two baking trays with baking paper. 

Using a 6cm round cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can from the rolled dough. If you don’t have a cutter, you could try cutting around a glass, or cut into 6cm squares.

Remove the excess dough from around each cookie and flip (using the technique outlined above!) onto one of the paper lined baking trays, leaving some space between each cookie so they don’t bake together.

Once your trays are filled, bake the cookies in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes, rotating the trays after 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. While the first batch are cooking, if you still have dough leftover you can be cutting more for the next batch!

Once the cookies are golden around the edges, transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

For the chocolate:

Once the cookies are cooled, if you like you can dip them into chocolate. Simply melt some dark chocolate using the double boiler method then dip each cookie into the melted chocolate and set on some baking paper. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt flakes on to the chocolate before it sets, then allow to set completely before removing from the paper – you can pop the whole thing in the refrigerator to make the chocolate set faster if you like; I did!

For the caramel:

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Pop the coconut oil, maple syrup, tahini and salt into a blender and blend on medium/high speed for about a minute, or until the mixture thickens and is completely smooth.

Pour into a clean jar and set aside to cool. Once cooled it will be ready for filling your cookies! Use around one teaspoon of caramel to sandwich each cookie.

Orange and Almond Caramel Sandwich Cookies dipped in dark chocolate

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Baking, Christmas
By Amber Rossouw Serves: 20
Prep Time: 30 - 40 minutes Cooking Time: 12 - 15 minutes Total Time: around 1 hour active time plus cooling

A gluten-free sandwich cookie filled with maple tahini caramel. The perfect Christmas gift to give.

Ingredients

  • 90g / 3.2oz salted butter, melted
  • 360g / 12.7 oz almond meal or almond flour (around 3 cups, tightly packed)
  • zest of 4 oranges
  • ½ cup (120ml / 4fl oz) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml / 0.34fl oz) vanilla paste
  • •••
  • 100 – 160g (3.5 – 5.6oz) dark chocolate
  • salt flakes for sprinkling
  • •••
  • 55g / 1.9oz coconut oil, melted
  • ⅓ cup (80ml / 2.7fl oz) hulled tahini
  • ¼ cup (60ml / 2fl oz) maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml / 0.08fl oz) salt flakes

Instructions

For the cookies:

1

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and set aside to cool slightly.

2

Measure out the almond meal/flour into a medium sized bowl and stir through the orange zest. Add in the maple syrup, vanilla and melted butter and stir until the mixture is completely smooth and everything is well incorporated.

3

Bring the mixture together into a ball and wrap tightly in a silicone wrap (I use these ones) and place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or so. If you’d like to speed up the chilling, you can also place the wrapped dough in the freezer for around 20 minutes.

4

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of baking paper until the dough is around 1/4 inch or 0.6 cm thick – I like to roll half the dough at a time, keeping the other half the fridge while I’m rolling, to make it more manageable. Don’t roll the dough too thinly, or it will be hard to move once cut.

5

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

6

Using a 6cm round cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can from the rolled dough. If you don’t have a cutter, you could try cutting around a glass, or cut into 6cm squares.

7

Remove the excess dough from around each cookie and flip (using the technique outlined above!) onto one of the paper lined baking trays, leaving some space between each cookie so they don’t bake together.

8

Once your trays are filled, bake the cookies in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes, rotating the trays after 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. While the first batch are cooking, if you still have dough leftover you can be cutting more for the next batch!

9

Once the cookies are golden around the edges, transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

For the chocolate:

10

Once the cookies are cooled, you can dip them into chocolate. Simply melt some dark chocolate using the double boiler method then dip each cookie into the melted chocolate and set on some baking paper. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt flakes on to the chocolate before it sets, then allow to set completely before removing from the paper.

For the caramel:

11

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

12

Pop the coconut oil, maple syrup, tahini and salt into a blender and blend on medium/high speed for about a minute, or until the mixture thickens and is completely smooth.

13

Pour into a clean jar and set aside to cool. Once cooled it will be ready for filling your cookies! Use around one teaspoon of caramel per cookie.

Notes

gluten free • christmas baking • refined sugar free