Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies
This morning I woke up with chocolate all over my face and caramel in my hair, and I don’t even know why. It’s the spookiest thing if you think about it, because I know I didn’t go to bed in that state. Or at least I don’t think I did. To be perfectly honest, I can’t really remember. Maybe I was attacked by some kind of jumbo chocolatey-caramel Easter bunny while I was sound asleep (let’s not talk about those dreams) or maybe I just woke up in the middle of the night and dragged myself into the kitchen and scarfed down a few cookies when no one was looking. That could be it. Then I just lazily walked back to my room and slipped into bed without bothering to wipe off my indiscretions. That’s what they call sleep eating right? I hear it’s a thing, or maybe I’m just making it up. Either of those explanations are plausible really. You’re right though, my bets are totally on the chocolate bunny. It makes complete sense. Although I did go to bed craving said cookies and they were on the counter last night before I knocked out, and by some weird coincidence, it just so happens that the cookies are now nowhere to be found. Where are those cookies? Where did they go?! Yeah, that chocolate bunny must have eaten them right before going into my room to attack me. Damn that chocolate bunny. It’s the only logical explanation. I’m glad we figured that out together. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep tonight, wondering what on earth happened to me, but more importantly what in the world happened to my cookies. Thanks for solving that mystery with me, I really appreciate it. So, chocolate bunnies love dark chocolate cookies with salted caramel drizzled on top just like me. Who would have thought? Not me, friends. Not me.
It takes a certain kind of cookie to really flip my world upside down and get me to forget about my love of doughnuts. It also takes a certain type of cookie to wake me up in the middle of the night and fight off a chocolate bunny for them. You might ask what kind of cookie could ever do that? What kind of cookie has that kind of power over me?! If you weren’t going to ask, let’s pretend you were, just for the sake of this post. Okay so you asked me the important question, oh thanks for asking! I’m glad you did. I’ll tell you, it would have to be the kind of cookie that is chocolate upon chocolate upon chocolate. And not just any chocolate, but dark chocolate. With dark chocolate chunks all throughout, melted, all gooey and warm. Said cookie would also have to have salted caramel drizzled all over the top of each and sprinkled with coarse sea salt because salty and sweet is the way to do it, in my book. It would have to be the type of cookie that would be easy to make and even easier to eat all of them without ever realizing you just ate all of them. It just so happens that I’m going to share that type of cookie with you now. That way you can make some for yourself, just be careful though. These cookies come with a warning. You’ll wake up in the morning with chocolate all over your face and caramel in your hair, but don’t fret about it because we all know how it got there.
We’re going to start this recipe by screaming at the top of our lungs, “Aaaaaahhhhh salted caramel. SAAAALTED CAAAARAMEL!!!!” Now that that’s out of the way, and out of our system, we can begin by making this delicious concoction. It might seem like a tedious hassle to make your own caramel at home, but I have two words for you skeptics at home, SALTED. CARAMEL. That is all. I don’t even think I need to say anything further because let’s be honest, those two words is all it takes to make anyone’s mouth water and ask, “How does one make salted caramel?” Well thanks you for asking. It just so happens that I am going to show you how to make it! It’s super easy.
We start by heating a large heavy duty sauce pot or a skillet (with high sides), over medium low heat.
Pour in the water and sugar, allowing the sugar to dissolve. At this stage you can give it a gentle stir to mix in the sugar but after that, you are not to stir at all. Put down that whisk and spoon and lose all temptation to stir. Just let the pan sit, allowing it to come to a boil.
So the sugar and water are coming up to a boil, you can raise the heat to medium-high, and you’re not stirring even though it’s tempting to stir it. DON’T. You’ll ruin the caramel if you start stirring. Don’t ask me how, and don’t ask me why. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know what the logic there is but I was once told not to stir so I do not stir, and now I’m passing on the caramel making wisdom to you.
Allow it to come to a boil, and continue to cook until the syrup becomes a light golden amber brown color. Boom, like in that third picture there.
Then you’ll remove the pot/pan from the flame and carefully—carefully because this is hot sugar we’re dealing with and you can severely injury yourself like no one’s business and the last thing you want on this earth is a third degree burn from scorching hot sugar—stir in the heavy cream, stand back because it will bubble and hiss and go all kinds of crazy. CRAZY I tell you!
**Note: When you add the cream to the hot syrup, it might seize up and some bits might become solid. DO NOT PANIC. You did nothing wrong! Just keep stirring until it dissolves and melts away into caramel. Stir even though you think you did something wrong. Stir like you’ve never stirred before, knowing that it will all turn out right in the end because Jonathan knows what he is doing aka now you know what you’re doing.**
Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and all those bits of sugar are dissolved. It should begin to look like caramel, slightly thick and dark in color. This is where you can oooooh and aaaaah all you want because you’re making caramel!
**Tip: If you find that the bits of sugar that seized aren’t dissolving, even with the stirring, you can place the pot over the flame again for a quick minute or two, so that the heat helps break them down.**
Stir in the butter, salt (because it’s salted caramel duh) and vanilla extract.
Carefully transfer the caramel to a small bowl or container with a lid. Allow it to cool down completely at room temperature and then store it in the fridge. It will last in the fridge for about a week and you can literally do anything you want with it. You can rewarm it before eating and serve it over ice cream. Use it as a dipping sauce for homemade doughnuts (I could die right now). You can grab a spoon and eat it like soup (genius idea? I think so). You can pour it all over yourself and just bathe in the magic that is salted caramel. Oh no? That’s too weird for you? I’ve never done that either.
It is better for the cookies that the caramel be cold and somewhat solid. So pop it in the fridge right now.
**Tip: You can make this a couple days in advance before proceeding to actually making the cookies, that way it’s ready for when you need it.**
Let’s talk about dark chocolate chocolate chunk cookies yeah? They’re pretty much the mother of all chocolate cookies. Like all other chocolate cookies can go on home because these have made it to the party. That type of cookie, and I’m definitely not complaining.
Just like any other baked good, like cakes and muffins and what not, we need to mix together the dry ingredients first. You can of course sift it all but I don’t want to. I’ll just whisk it all. Feel free to be daring like me and just whisk the ingredients together. Nothing bad will happen, I promise. Come on, you know you want to just whisk it. Don’t sift. Everyone is doing it.
Into the flour, add and mix in:
Unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder (this can be found in most stores but regular unsweetened cocoa powder will do just fine)
Espresso powder (optional, but it enhances the chocolate flavor)
Cinnamon (just a pinch, again enhances chocolatey flavor goodness)
Give it all one giant great big stir. You want all the ingredients to be evenly combined.
Once the dry ingredients are all up in each other’s faces, you can put it off to the side and turn your attention to creaming the butter and sugars because that’s where the good stuff comes in, right?
Add the softened unsalted butter to a large mixing bowl and whip until light and fluffy.
**Note: You can do this by hand, it wouldn’t be too hard. Or you can use a handheld mixer like it’s 1995 or you can use a stand mixer. The decision, I leave up to you. You have the power. Insert evil laugh here.**
Throw in the granulated sugar and whip until light and fluffy.
We’re also going to need brown sugar because I’m a firm believer that two is always better than one so why not just add all the sugars into this cookie dough?
Stir in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
And last but certainly not least is the vanilla extract. Let’s add it now because there is really nothing else to add other than the dry ingredients, and I’m running out of things to say.
Stir in the dry ingredients from earlier, adding a bit at a time so that you don’t end up creating a mess with chocolatey flour flying everywhere. Take it from me, it’s not a pretty sight. Not that I would know what that looks like.
After each addition, stir until just combined. Don’t over mix the dough because you’ll then end up with tough dry a** cookies.
Once all the dry ingredients have been mixed in, it’s time to take these cookies over the edge. Stir in a few handfuls (maybe a full bag, who’s counting) of dark chocolate chunks. Yeah I just took it there and no I don’t regret it. I did warn you, these cookies are lethal, in all the right ways.
Using a small ice cream scoop (or just heaping tablespoons) you can divide out the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Leave enough space between each cookie because they will spread out some.
**Tip: Depending on the size of your baking sheets, I’d place about 8 cookies per sheet. To be on the safe side, just so you know that you have enough space, I’d do about 6 cookies per sheet. Why play with fire? You don’t want to ruin these cookies. You want to eat them.**
I like to roll the cookies in my hand to form them into a ball, then I make an indentation in the center and fill them with a bit of the cold salted caramel we made earlier. This step is completely optional.
It might take some finesse to roll the cookies back up and make sure the caramel doesn’t ooze out too much. It’s a super messy job, but worth it. It’s okay if the caramel oozes out a tiny bit, but you definitely don’t want it to spill out completely because it’ll melt in the oven and create a mess on the baking sheets and essentially burn.
**Tip: If you don’t want to deal with all that rolling and manhandling or if you see that the cookies aren’t coming out right, you can just bake off the cookies normal and then drizzle the caramel over the top. I did that as well because you can never have enough salted caramel.**
Sprinkle the cookies, right before baking, with coarse sea salt flakes. It will enhance the chocolate flavor but also tie in the salted caramel nicely.
Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes until they are set and crispy on the edges. You want them to be slightly under baked because it’ll make for a more pleasant and tasty cookie. Moist and delicious.
Right when they come out of the oven, drizzle more of that salted caramel over the top of each because……well because it’s salted caramel. I shouldn’t have to give you a reason to drizzle more caramel should I? Just do it.
These cookies are obviously best eaten warm because I don’t think there is anything better than warm chocolate cookies with caramel drizzled all up on them. Just picture this, you break a warm right out of the oven (okay maybe not right out of the oven because you could burn yourself) but a warm chocolate cookie you break in half and you watch the melted chocolate chunks in the inside just ooze apart. That right there is a sight to behold. A sight you need in your life. You must experience that more often because I tell you friends, it’s the thing that dreams are made of.
I would hold off drizzling the salted caramel over all the cookies if they are not going to be consumed all at once. You might have to back away from these periodically because they are very KA-BOOM in your face. They are rich, yes, but nothing too much. The cookies themselves aren’t that sweet since we used dark chocolate but the salted caramel gives it just the right amount of sweetness with the salt cutting it off so it’s not like “Oooohweeee this is hella sweet, my teeth are going to fall off.”
Store the cookies you aren’t going to eat right away in a giant plastic food storage bag or in an airtight container. Then when you’re ready to eat, you can rewarm them in the oven and then drizzle the caramel on top right before devouring.
I’d like to point out the obvious that these cookies are the non-messiest cookies you’ll ever eat. No plates or napkins are required. I mean, it’s totally one of those cookies you can just grab and run out the door—right before work all dressed up in your fancy work clothes without a worry of getting dirty—because they’re super easy to eat. They’re not chocolatey or ooey gooey at all. I mean that caramel is staying put. It isn’t going anywhere. It’ll never drip. Especially not on your nice clothes that’s for sure. Safest cookie ever.
Okay, so maybe they’re a little messy. Just a tiny bit. But that’s what makes them so delicious. All that salted caramel dripping on the top of each cookie and the warm melted chocolate chunks in the center. Don’t even get me started on that sprinkling of sea salt to finish them off. That perfect combination of salty and sweet, its the stuff legends are born from. This here my friends, is a legend. It’s born. I might be getting a little carried away, sure. Maybe I’ve lost my mind. Perhaps I’m crazy. Crazy for cookies that is.
If you’re not a caramel fan, you should stop and ask yourself why. Why?!?! Why do you hate caramel so much? It never did anything to you, other than try to love you. Yes, salted caramel just wants to love you and for you to love it. Maybe you should give it another chance. Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to say “hey, at least I gave it another shot and I’m just missing something in my head because I still don’t like this crap.” You can say that sure, but only when you’ve tried these salted caramel dark chocolate cookies for yourself, and you still come to the same conclusion that you don’t like salted caramel at all. If that is the sad case, then you can just bake off the cookies with the sprinkling of salt on the top and omit the caramel sauce completely. You’d make me very sad and I’d probably start crying because it would hurt me deep down inside, but I guess that’s okay. It’s okay that you want to make me cry. I don’t mind. JUST MAKE THESE COOKIES!
Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies
It’s really the homemade salted caramel that takes these chocolate cookies over the edge. Sure the dark chocolate chunks that melt in the center are just as responsible for making these treats so irresistible, but we all know it’s all about the salted caramel. It can either be baked inside the cookie by rolling the dough and filling it with a bit of the caramel and then rolling it tight. Or the easier way, by baking off the cookies first and then drizzling the caramel on top. I don’t care which way you decide to make them, just as long as you make them soon!
yield: about 2 dozen large cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups dark chocolate chunks
- salted caramel, recipe follows
- coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, espresso powder and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing until just combined after each addition. Fold in the dark chocolate chunks.
3. Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure they are all uniform in size so that they cook at the same time. If you’re filling the cooking with the caramel, roll each dough into a ball with your palms. Flatten it out a bit, making an indentation in the center with your thumb. Fill it with a teaspoon or so of caramel and then fold over the edges of the dough onto the caramel. Roll into a ball once more and place on the baking sheet. If you’re not filling the cookies, then just scoop out the dough evenly spaced out and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until somewhat set and crispy on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and drizzle with more of the salted caramel before eating. Store any leftover cookies in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to 3 days. Rewarm before eating and drizzle with more caramel. Enjoy!
This super easy to make caramel sauce is perfect for all your dessert needs. Drizzle over ice cream or use a dipping sauce for everything and anything your heart desires. Dip your face into it and just devour the tastiest sauce you’ll ever make in your life.
yield: about 1½ cups
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine the water and sugar in a heavy duty sauce pot or skillet with high edges. Place over medium-low heat and bring to a boil without mixing. Once boiling, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until the sugar syrup turns an amber golden brown color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the heavy cream. It will bubble and seize up a little but just keep whisking. If you find that the sugar isn’t melting down, return the pot to a low heat and stir until the sugar chunks have dissolved. Remove from heat once again and stir in the butter, salt and vanilla extract. Allow to cool and then store in the fridge in an airtight container. It will last about a week. Reheat before serving over ice cream or dipping uses. Enjoy!