I suppose we all have our kryptonite ingredients or flavor combinations – something you essentially never turn down if offered. For me, with my dangerously insatiable sweet tooth, the top flavor profile to which I almost never say no is caramel with chocolate. From basic candy to an ooh-la-la tart, if you say caramel and chocolate, I’m in. And Samoas? Don’t even try to pretend that we’re sharing that box.
Needless to say, when a coworker recently commissioned dessert and highlighted a craving for chocolate and caramel, no one needed to twist my arm.
Finding the ideal reliable recipe, though, was a bit more involved than I initially assumed. Anything involving caramel chips seemed suspect, unlikely somehow to have a simple, true caramel flavor. I browsed, pondered, and browsed some more.
Several sources suggested the bar cookie route, flooding caramel sauce between two pressed layers of dough, presumably to ensure an even layer of soft caramel in each bite. This was tempting; it does sound tasty, plus it reminds me of carmelitas, a well-loved indulgence around these parts. All the same, this time I was looking for something a bit neater, more portable, and, well, just a simple, perfect, delicious, cookie.
As luck would have it, a bit more hunting led me to Judy‘s straightforward, wonderful method of stuffing soft candy caramels into a generous scoop of classic chocolate chip cookie dough. Sometimes simple is divine!
Small adaptations made this perfect for my audience – some extra brown sugar vs. white to make the cookies even more chewy, and sea salt, because I live in Belgium where fleur de sel is routinely stocked in the local equivalent of 7-11, thus I have an embarrassing multiple jars of it in the pantry. Also sea salt and caramel are sweet soul mates, rightfully together forever and ever, Amen.
I honestly wish I had taken more of these to the office, because I found myself breaking off “just a quarter” every time I wandered past the kitchen counter, which occurs essentially every 5 minutes. I’d love to up the ante and make them with homemade caramels at some point, and also with dark chocolate chunks. Basically, manufacture any excuse to make these again, and I’ll be all over it. I hope you try these and love them as much as I do!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield 2 dozen cookies
- 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. fleur de sel or flaked sea salt, plus more for garnish
- 2 cups (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 dozen soft candy caramels
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer or elbow grease), combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla, followed by the oats, and beat again just until smooth.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the butter-sugar mixture, and mix on low speed just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
- Unwrap caramels and cut each in half using kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Portion out dough scoops of roughly 1/4 cup each, stuff each with 2 caramel pieces, and gently roll into a ball, being certain to completely enclose the caramel inside the dough. Arrange the dough balls on baking sheets prepared with silicone liners or parchment paper, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 360 degrees F (185 degrees C). Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges but still soft in the middle. Garnish with additional sea salt immediately after removing from the oven. Let cool on the baking sheets for 10-15 minutes, until cookies are set, then transfer to wire racks and enjoy.
If you want to work ahead, or get distracted (what!?), good news - you can chill the dough balls for up to a week! They will bake up slightly browner the longer they have been chilled. I would also like to try experimenting with freezing the dough and baking from frozen, much like these beloved favorites; if you try this, please come back and let us know how it went in the comments!
Source: Adapted from Country Cupboard Cookies