These brown sugar molasses cookies are a classic taken to the next level, thanks to browned butter and a soft, chewy caramel baked into the center of each one. Sprinkle with sea salt, pour a tall glass of milk, and enjoy!
I really had the best intentions of eating well this week, by which I mean, mostly, not eating a huge amount of dessert. We’re going to Tuscany for a week soon (#expatperks) and even though we’re most likely past pool season, I still like the idea of being the slimmer, svelter version of myself when we go on vacation, you know? The self who ate a lot of salads and lean protein and now feels nice and trim and ready to cancel out all those good choices with too much gelato and pasta.
Buuut. That self crumbled when these cookies got in the way.
I didn’t even really mean to make cookies this week. They just kind of happened, I swear. After the muffins, I started brainstorming other fall favors, then happened upon the idea of stuffing caramels into brown sugar cookies, and we already know the good things that happen when caramel enters a cookie thanks to this salted chocolate chip insanity.
Then out of nowhere a bag of soft caramels leapt into my shopping bag one afternoon on the way home. Before I could even think about what I was doing, the oven was preheated, the dough made.
I think swirling in the molasses was the most enjoyable part of the whole process. Up until, you know, the eating part.
Molasses adds fantastic color and richness to baked goods, of course, but also savory sauces and rubs. I use it all year round, but something about the flavor especially conveys “fall.”
These cookies get an extra shot of flavor from browned butter and the use of all brown sugar. These are all small changes from your everyday cookie dough, which add up to a super chewy, super flavorful cookie. They bake up nice and soft, yet plenty sturdy to envelope a caramel. If you’re a caramel fanatic like me, you’ll enjoy the whole cookie, but crave those caramel-y bites in the middle something fierce!
[clickToTweet tweet=”Not even pretending to resist these caramel-stuffed molasses cookies!” quote=”Not even pretending to resist these caramel-stuffed molasses cookies!”]
A short tour in the oven and these cookies are ready for prime-time. Take them out, sprinkle with sea salt, and let them cool a few minutes. Waiting is the hardest part!
Now pull one apart and ogle that chewy, stretchy caramel.
You might be tempted to skip the sea salt on top, but I strongly recommend it. The cookies are very sweet, which is no surprise with all that molasses, brown sugar, and caramel action. The bite of the sea salt contrasts all that sweetness very well and keeps the overall effect from being over the top.
If you’re eating a cookie after it’s fully cooled, you might want to microwave it for 10-20 seconds on medium power, just to replicate that soft, stretchy caramel effect. But they’re also delicious straight off the counter. Take it from me.
Which brings me back to my original point about these having pretty well derailed my healthy eating plans for the week. I have to admit, though, they were worth it! I mean, honestly, caramel-stuffed molasses cookies? I’m glad you’re in my life. ♥
Caramel-Stuffed Molasses Cookies
- 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons, 170 grams) unsalted butter divided
- 2 1/4 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more for sprinkling
- 1 1/2 cups (320 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 18 unwrapped soft candy caramels
- Melt 8 tablespoons (113 grams) of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring or swirling the pan frequently, for 1-3 minutes, until the butter foams and then turns a dark golden color. Remove immediately from the heat and allow to cool for about 1 minute.
- Break the remaining 4 tablespoons (57 grams) butter into a few pieces and add it to the pan with the browned butter. Stir until completely melted, and set aside to cool for 3-4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Line cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, and set aside.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
- When butter has cooled, add brown sugar to the pan, followed by the molasses, and whisk to combine. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract, and whisk again until evenly combined. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the butter-sugar mixture, and fold with a spatula or wooden spoon just until the dough comes together and is evenly combined.
- Scoop out 1 tablespoon of dough and place a caramel on top. Add another tablespoon of dough on top of the caramel, and roll the whole package into a ball, making sure the caramel is completely covered by dough. Repeat with remaining dough and caramels.
- Place cookies about 3 inches apart on cookie sheets, and bake for 11-13 minutes, just until golden brown. (It’s OK if they look slightly underbaked; they will continue to set up a bit after being removed from the oven.) Let cool for about 10 minutes on cookie sheets before transferring cookies to wire racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. (They won’t last that long!)
- If you live in the US, Kraft or Werther’s soft caramels will work well for this. If you live in Europe, Lutti milk caramels work beautifully.
- Recipe inspired by and adapted from these caramel-stuffed brown sugar beauties at Carlsbad Cravings, which were in turn adapted from a Cooks Illustrated “Best Desserts Ever” special. I really loved this concept and wanted to incorporate molasses, so my changes are designed to 1.) reduce the sugar and alter the ratio of dry to liquid ingredients to account for the molasses, and 2.) reduce the number of bowls you'll get dirty!