These salted caramel pecan chocolate chip cookies are perhaps the best cookies I've ever eaten! They are thick, gooey and chewy on the inside, crispy around the edges, oozing with puddles of chocolate, and filled with toasted salted caramel pecans.
If pecan pie had a baby with chocolate chip cookies, these delicious cookies would be born. And trust me, if you bring these cookies to any holiday dinner or gathering, you're going to be the absolute star of the night!
This recipe is also very easy and fuss free: there are no complicated ingredients or steps, no mixer is needed, and I'm going to show an incredibly easy, fool-proof hack to make the caramel.
I have always maintained my thick browned butter chocolate chip cookies are the BEST cookies I've ever had (seriously, everyone who has had them agrees), and this recipe takes them to the next level with the pecans!
Here are the ingredients you will need to make these cookies (remember, the exact quantities are written at the end of this post in the recipe card):
- Unsalted butter - the butter can be straight from the fridge as it will be browned on the stove top anyway
- Light brown sugar - this recipe uses more brown sugar than white, which adds a yummy caramel flavor and chewy texture
- White sugar
- Egg and egg yolk - these can also be straight from the fridge!
- Salt - don't skip out on the salt! In my opinion it is as important as the sugar when it comes to cookies
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- All purpose flour
- Dark chocolate and milk chocolate - please, please, please use chopped chocolate instead of chocolate chips!! The difference in flavor and texture is immense. I use Valrhona Jivara and Valrhona Caraibe, but you can use any chocolate you like. If you want, you can do just semi-sweet chocolate, but I think using two types of chocolate adds a good depth in flavor
- Soft caramels - this is my secret to making a quick and easy caramel sauce! I use Werther's
- Heavy cream - you can also use milk, this is just to thin out the caramel sauce a bit
- Pecans - I recommend getting pecan halves and roughly chopping them. Make sure you also toast the pecans for ~5-7 minutes in the oven at 350F until they become fragrant. This brings out their flavor, otherwise they can taste a bit raw
HOW TO MAKE SALTED CARAMEL PECAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Check out this quick video before I get into the process:
1. Toast the pecans
Place the pecans in a baking sheet and place in the oven at 350F for just 5-7 minutes until fragrant.
2. Brown the butter
"Browning" butter simply means melting it in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat, and cooking until the butter solids separate from the butter fat, creating a light brown color. This can take between 5-8 minutes, but you should watch the butter closely and stop cooking it as soon as it turns brown (as it can easily burn!). The brown butter will have a beautiful caramely, nutty aroma.
3. Mix in the sugars
Now, here's a little trick I like to use. I add my light brown and white sugar directly to the pan with the brown butter, turn the heat to low (very low, using a small burner), and whisk for 1-2 minutes. The heat facilitates the dissolving of the sugars, and you don't need to use an electric beater and cream for a long time. The heat also starts breaking down the sugar, which later creates a nice caramel-y flavor.
A lot of people tend to overdo this step, causing the sugar to crystallize. Please only stir until the mixture starts to look smooth, and do not go over 2 minutes. If in doubt, just take the pan off the heat, and then whisk in the sugars for 2 minutes.
4. Whisk in the eggs
Rest the butter & sugar mix for 5 minutes. Break in the egg & the egg yolk, and whisk vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. This is when the sugars will almost fully dissolve and you will have a smooth, caramel colored mixture.
5. Fold in the dry ingredients
Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and fold with a spatula until the flour is almost mixed. Leave a few streaks of flour unmixed, as we don't want to over work the cookie dough. At this point, the cookie dough will be a bit runny. Don't worry, just place it in the fridge while we work on the salted caramel pecans.
6. Make the salted caramel pecans
Add the soft caramels and cream to a nonstick saucepan, and place on low heat. Stir until a smooth sauce forms, and add a bit of salt to taste. This is an incredible fool-proof hack to make caramel!
Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans, coating them as thoroughly as you can.
7. Fold the chocolate and pecans into the cookie dough
After 10 minutes in the fridge, the cookie dough should be a bit more firm. Fold in the chopped chocolate (get in all the scrapes of chocolate from the cutting board) along with the pecans, with gentle force and taking care not to overmix.
I recommend saving some of the chopped chocolate and pecans for the top of the cookies to make them look nicer.
8. Scoop the cookie dough
Use a 2" cookie dough scoop to scoop the dough into ~10 cookie balls, and place them on a plate or baking dish. Place the remaining chunks of chocolate and pecans on top of the cookie balls, lightly pressing them in.
9. Chill the cookie dough!
Now it is time to chill. As annoying as this may seem, please don't skip this step! Chilling cookie dough is essential because it:
- Helps deepen the flavor - seriously, unchilled cookies just don't taste the game
- Develops the texture - unchilled cookies will spread out a lot more and be crispy, while chilled cookies will be thicker with a chewy, gooey interior and crispy edges
I recommend chilling the cookie dough for 2 hours or more, but you can get away with 30 minutes if in a rush.
Now you can finally bake! Make sure to pre-heat your oven. Place the cookie balls on a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and bake for ~10-12 minutes. The timing will vary depending on your oven calibration and the type of sheet you are using. 10 minutes will give a softer, more gooey cookie, whereas 12 minutes will give a more crispy, chewy one. You can do a test cookie to determine the ideal baking time for your preference.
Remember, the cookies will feel soft and underdone when they come out of the oven. That's how they are supposed to be, as they continue to cook and become firmer as they cool. If you wait for the cookies to be fully firm in the oven, you will end up with dry, crumbly cookies.
Serve and enjoy!!
STORING SALTED CARAMEL PECAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Let's talk storing the cookies! There are 2 ways to do this:
- Store the cookie dough
Once the cookie dough has been scooped and chilled, you can refrigerate them for up to 1 week or freeze for 3 months. Just make sure to cover them properly (you can use an airtight container or a ziploc bag). When ready to eat the cookies, you can bake them directly from the fridge or the freezer, putting them into a pre-heated oven and adding a couple minutes to the baking time. I love doing this because it allows me to have a fresh cookie any time I crave it (kind of like meal-prepping cookies)!
- Store the cookies after baking
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. I prefer them at room temperature, and like to warm them up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before eating.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
This is likely because you cooked the mixture on high heat or for too long. Please make sure you are only cooking on the lowest heat setting for just 1-2 minutes. We don't want to caramelize the sugar, we are just facilitating the dissolving process. If in doubt, remove the butter from heat, and then whisk in the sugars.
I do not recommend reducing the sugar as it is already quite low compared to regular recipes. Sugar helps with the texture of the cookies and lowering it more will affect that negatively.
Either the cookie dough was too warm, or you chopped your chocolate too small. Don't worry, the cookies will still taste good.
You can, but you won't get the luxurious, incredible cookies you're hoping for. Chocolate chips don't taste as good, and don't melt into puddles like chopped chocolate. I STRONGLY recommend using chopped chocolate.
The cookies will feel firm and set on the edges, and somewhat soft in the middle. They will set more as they cool!
You can make your own caramel sauce if you can't find soft caramels. You can try out the recipe I used for my pecan upside down marble cake (but only about half of it is needed for these cookies).
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