These rich dark chocolate cookies are filled with creamy caramel and topped with a sprinkle of salt. Put a plate out and they’ll disappear fast (but only if you’re willing to share)!
Want to make someone smile? Hand them a plate of homemade chocolate cookies. Even better, watch them bite into a rich chocolate cookie and discover creamy caramel wrapped up inside. These cookies contain the very best sort of surprise – a sweet one!
Make a batch for neighbors, coworkers, family, friends. Or maybe for that really nice grocery delivery person who never seems annoyed when you make 89 specific requests in the “notes” section of your order.
Frank and I only have one car. Three kids, one car. We have the logistics down to a science. But we couldn’t make it work if not for grocery delivery services which mean that I don’t need the car to buy groceries for all the recipes you see on this site. If they hadn’t already, our local grocery store definitely flagged me as being high maintenance while testing many variations of these cookies. That’s because this is one recipe where a few specific ingredients make all the difference. Here’s what I mean…
When I started dreaming up these cookies, I was imagining a chocolate cookie with a caramel center that spills out when the cookies are still warm. Getting that caramel center right turned out to be super challenging! I quickly discovered that regular caramels (like those used to make caramel apples) get too firm when the cookies cool. It’s like finding a caramel rock in the center – no fun!
I tested caramel-filled chocolate candies too, thinking that Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Caramel Squares or caramel-filled Hershey’s kisses might work. But with each of these candy options, the caramel got lost once the cookies were baked.
The answer, my friends, is “soft” caramels. These things are totally addictive on their own, but are the perfect filling for cookies. They are super soft and stay that way inside the chocolate cookies. Werther’s Soft Caramels are the best I found.
Dark Cocoa Powder
The key to the dark chocolate flavor of these cookies is Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. But the flavor isn’t the only thing I love about this stuff. The dark cocoa powder also gives these cookies a much darker and more profoundly chocolate-y color which makes the pop against the caramel inside.
The dark cocoa powder works just like regular unsweetened cocoa powder, but I love the darker chocolate results so much that I had to share the secret with you. Any regular unsweetened cocoa powder will work as well, so no need to run out and buy this stuff if you’re not attached to the dark chocolate color / flavor.
The finish of these cookies is just a sprinkle of flaky sea salt that gives these cookies a hint of salty crunch in each bite.
Salty-sweet-chocolate-caramel combo for the win!
- 2 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
- ¾ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (see note)
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1¼ cups Unsalted Butter, softened
- 2 cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 Large Eggs
- 40 Soft Caramels (see note)
- 3 Tbsp Large Grain / Flaky Salt, opt (like Maldon Sea Salt Flakes)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray two sheet pans with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a standing or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla and eggs and gently mix until combined, ~1 minute more.
- Add dry ingredients in three increments, mixing for 1 minute between each addition. Continue mixing on low until just combined.
- Transfer cookie dough to the refrigerator for 10 minutes. (The dough will firm up slightly which will make it easier to roll.
- While the dough chills, unwrap the soft caramels. Set the unwrapped caramels on wax paper to keep them from sticking.
- Form the cookies by taking a golf-ball sized portion of chocolate dough and rolling it into a ball. Press between your palms to flatten slightly and place a soft caramel in the middle. Roll the dough around the caramel and place the cookie dough on the prepared sheet pan. Continue with the remaining dough / caramels, leaving at least 4 inches between each cookie (they will spread out as they bake).
- Bake the cookies until the edges are crisp and the centers are still soft, 9 to 11 minutes.
- As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle them with salt. Allow them to cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Store cookies at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Werther's Soft Caramels are the best I found for filling these cookies. They stay soft after cookies have cooled.
Want to freeze these for later? Roll the caramel-filled balls and freeze them on parchment or wax paper until solid. Transfer to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. You can bake them straight from the freezer, but will need to add a 2-4 minutes to the baking time. Enjoy!
The chocolate cookie recipe featured here is an adaptation of this one.
Molly and Clara are back at it in the kitchen. These four year olds had no complaints about the many batches of these cookies we tested before we got it just right. (Nor did they complain about the many spatulas they got to lick in the process.)
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