Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by both making and eating salted soft caramels! There’s just something about the chewy texture paired with the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and bitter that makes for a magical bite every single time. I know that the idea of making homemade candy from scratch can seem intimidating (let alone that I’m asking you to make a cookie on top of it), but my soft caramel recipe is fool proof! All you need is a thermometer and a little patience, and you’ll have a bakery-level cookie before you know it. If that doesn’t convince you to give them a try, the cookies only use about half of the caramels, so you really get two desserts in one!
I am also a longstanding chocolate chip fanatic so when stuffing a caramel into a cookie popped into my head on night while dreaming, I had to make it the next morning. It goes without saying, this cookie is just as heavenly as it looks!
Salted Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
For the Caramels
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup 120 mL light corn syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick ½ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Nonstick cooking spray as needed
For the Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 1/2 sticks 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup 150 grams packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup 150 grams granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups 358 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped (about 2 cups)
- Flaky salt to taste
For the Caramels
- Line a 9×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, then spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray.
- First, make the caramel. In a medium sauce pot, bring sugars and light corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a rubber spatula to ensure ingredients are well incorporated. Once the mixture reaches a boil, carefully add in the heavy cream and butter, then stir gently to combine; mixture will bubble up, so add and stir slowly. Continue cooking until a candy thermometer reads 255°F, or “soft ball” stage. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.
- Pour into the prepared baking pan, then top with flaky sea salt. Place in the refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours, or until firm. Once firm, use parchment to remove caramel and place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into small, ½-inch by ½-inch squares, and set aside.
- Note: You’ll only use about ⅓ of the caramel for the cookies. Caramel can be made up to a week in advance, and stored wrapped tightly in plastic or in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator.
For the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line sheet pans with parchment paper. (Line as many sheets as racks you have in your oven, usually 2 or 3.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- While butter creams, place flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine evenly. Set aside.
- Scrape down the sides of the stand mixing bowl, then add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, then add dry ingredients and mix on lowest speed until just a few streaks of flour remain. Add in the chopped chocolate, and mix until just combined.
- Use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop all of the dough onto a prepared pan. Flatten each ball slightly, then press a caramel square into the middle. Pinch the dough around the caramel, ensuring it’s fully covered, then place back on prepared pan. Repeat with the rest until all cookies are filled.
- Place cookies at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until edges are golden.
- Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further. Cookies are best warm, when caramel center is still very soft.