There are just three important things to keep in mind about these crispy caramel cookies:
1) They need to bake all the way through to their centers. There’s nothing worse than having a cookie that’s crunchy, crunchy and then raw in the middle.
2) As soon as the cookies are baked, immediately, use a metal spatula to lift them off the parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately flip them over onto clean parchment – either find a clean spot on the sheet they baked on or use a new sheet of paper. The flipped-over side (the side that baked against the paper) will be shinier and more caramelized and this is the side you want to serve face-up.
3) Let them cool before you taste or serve them – caramelized sugar is lethally hot.
Obviously, you can change the spice and you can even sprinkle the dough with another ingredient before rolling it up. Try finely (very finely) chopped nuts or equally finely chopped cocoa nibs. Knowing you, I’m sure you’ll find something really interesting.
I’d made the sweet roll-ups dozens of times and then, when Michael and I were in Brittany for the New Year, I had Olivier Roellinger’s savory version and was smitten anew.
Roellinger’s pinwheels were spiraled around seaweed, the perfect ingredient for a chef whose life is tied to the sea at his door. While the selection of hors d’oeuvres served with aperitifs at Chateau Richeux, the hotel, changed daily, the seaweed pinwheels were always on the plate.
When I got back to Paris, one of the first things I did was to make these savory pastries. In Paris, where all-butter puff pastry is as near as the closest supermarket, I used a round sheet of pastry, pre-cut to make a tart crust. The dough was already rolled out, so all I did was brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter, sprinkle the surface with fleur de sel, and then dust it with seaweed flakes. Instead of slicing them into 1/2-inch rounds, as I’d done with the sweet pinwheels, I cut these very thin – the rounds were between 1/6- and 1/4-inch thick. And, because the pastry was different, I baked them in a 375-degree F oven for about 17 minutes. You’ll have to experiment a little when you bake these – keep an eye on them, look for the baked-through center and then pull them out of the oven. No need to flip these, just put them on a rack to cool. While you can serve the pinwheels warm, if you’d like, I think the seaweed flavor is more pronounced when the cookies have cooled.
These are the flakes I had in my Paris pantry (I’d bought them at a food fair, Salon des Saveurs, I think). They were labeled Sea Parsley and the tag said they were composed of dulse and sea lettuce. I’m not sure what I’ll find when I get back to New York, but I hope I find something just as nice because I’d like to make this a house regular – they’re delicious with wine white and Champagne.
If you know of a good source for seaweed — online or in New York City — I’d love to know.