LIke a lot of folks, I bought a few boxes of girl scout cookies during their annual drive. Often, I'll open a box and before I know it, I've eaten all the cookies myself. So, instead of doing that again this year, I started experimenting with ways of incorporating these cookies into desserts that I could share. The best idea was this caramel tart using Trefoils. The combination of caramel and shortbread is quite tasty. If you've gone through your cookies for this year already, you can easily substitute butter cookies for the Trefoils. Also, the inspiration for this recipe originally came from a walnut tart and I've provided a little direction on making that version as well.
Caramel Cookie Tart
1 1/4 cu All Purpose Flour
6 tbl Cold Butter, diced
3 oz Cream Cheese, cut or torn into small pieces
3 cu Trefoils Cookies, crumbled to walnut sized pieces
1 1/2 cu Sugar
1/2 cu Heavy Cream
4 tbl Butter, cubed
2 additional cookies, ground (optional) for garnish
9" fluted tart pan with removal bottom
Prepare crust by cutting butter and cream cheese into the flour and mixing until a dough forms; or place all three ingredients in a food processor and blend until dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minute. Remove and roll out on a lightly floured board, creating a circle about 11" in diameter. Transfer dough to the tart pan and uniformly press the dough into the fluted sides. Refrigerate pan for an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place tart pan on a baking sheet. Using a fork, poke a number of holes into the bottom of the dough. Bake for 15-18 minutes until crust just begins to color. Remove and set aside to cool.
Put sugar in a large saucepan, at least 12" in diameter, over medium heat. Shake the pan occasionally as sugar beings to melt. Regulate temperature so that sugar doesn't smoke or burn. As sugar has just about fully melted, stir gently with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth. The melted sugar should be golden brown in color. Remove from heat and pour cream an butter into mixture. BE VERY CAREFUL during this step, as mixture will smoke and bubble up when combined. Stir mixture until caramel is fully blended and smooth. Add crumbled cookies and gently stir to coat all sides. Transfer mixture to the prepared tart pan and quickly spread the mixture evenly. Sprinkle the two ground cookies on top for garnish (optional). Set aside to cool before slicing and serving. This tart is great with a bit of whipped cream, garnished with lemon zest or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For alternatives, you can substitute butter cookies for the Trefoils. Also, this makes a tasty walnut tart by substituting 3 cups of chopped walnuts for the cookies.