Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Have you ever eaten a gourmet cookie and wondered why they taste so much better than an ordinary chocolate chip cookie? It’s not just the add-in’s (the type of chocolate chips, the quality of vanilla, the type of brown sugar), although those make a difference). The secret is in the dough. It’s really a simple step and just takes an extra 5 minutes, but the flavor improvement will make you say, “Wow!”  “Shhh, don’t tell anyone; the secret ingredient is browned butter.”

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies 

1 cup unsalted butter (1/2 cup softened, ½ cup browned)
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
3/4 cup Kraft caramel bits
Sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Soften 1/2 cup butter. Brown the second 1/2 cup butter. To brown butter: Cut butter into 20 pieces and melt over medium heat in a small saucepan. From this point on, stir butter the whole time with a wire whisk. The butter will go through a progression of steps before it turns brown. The butter will melt, foam up, and then start popping (this is the water separating out from the milk solids and evaporating). Right before it browns the butter will separate into oil and tiny pieces of milk fat. Now you are to the crucial part and things start happening pretty fast. Look for the milk solids to turn caramel brown. Watch closely, the milk solids can go from the desired caramel color to burned (the color of ground coffee) in seconds. If you burn the butter start over with a clean dry saucepan. As soon as it turns caramel color, remove pan from heat and immediately pour into a heat safe glass bowl to stop the cooking process. Refrigerate browned butter 20 minutes (to cool it) before using in the recipe.  

While the browned butter is cools, measure flour, salt and baking soda.  Stir together and set aside. Mix softened stick of butter and dark brown sugar on medium speed with a mixer for 3 minutes or until it changes color. Add vanilla, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and browned butter; beat 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk; beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low. Add 1/2 flour and mix. Add other 1/2  flour and mix. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again. Stir in chocolate chunks and caramel bits by hand. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes. Line baking sheets with parchment paper so cookies won’t stick to pan.  Scoop dough onto baking sheets using a 1.5-tablespoon size scoop. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on how much dough you eat! Enjoy!

Published in The News and Neighbor on September 14, 2022.


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