Over the past couple years, my salty sweet dessert repertoire has expanded far beyond the peanut butter cups of my youth. Salt is popping up in lots of my favorite desserts, from salted chocolate ice cream to salted caramel brownies. I’ve written about the salty-sweet trend from a more analytical angle over at my other blog. But for right here, right now: I just want to talk about cookies.
Please refer to the photo on the left. What you see is a delicious cookie, studded with pretzels, chocolate chips and caramel bits. It’s a harmony of flavors, and a wonderful mix of textures, all mixed in to a great base dough.
These cookies were born from a promise. I had promised my boyfriend I’d bake for him last weekend and since I take such promises very seriously, I gave him 5 options to choose from when Baking Day rolled around. My suggestions ranged from S’More Cupcakes to Lemon Bars to a few types of cookies. He took a look and made a suggestion of his own: Why not create a hybrid cookie? Why settle for one type of cookie when you could combine two great concepts into one?
And so these cookies were born. We used the base from these Salty Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies from “Cookies and Cups,” but added in a heaping of caramel bits for another layer of flavor. These turned out to be delicious decisions. The base dough has a delectable brown butter base, and the pretzels sort of float to the bottom to provide a satisfying crunch. The chocolate chips and caramel bits work well together, too, and it’s nice to get some variation as you bite through your cookie.
The other good news? This recipe is super easy. The hardest part is browning the butter, and once you try that a couple times you’ll get the hang of it. You definitely should try it- browned butter is a great addition to a lot of recipes (and also pretty “in” these days). This recipe is quick because the dough doesn’t have to chill before baking. Cookies are always one of the fastest things to bake overall, so you can get these from ingredient to finished product in under an hour. The cookies held up well over a couple days, too. So all in all: a total winner.
I gave my boyfriend a good chunk of the batch, left a few for my roommate, and brought the rest to a birthday party that night. The party was at a bar, so I probably looked a bit odd carrying cookies around – but my friends are very used to this behavior by now, and applaud it wholeheartedly.
Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies with Browned Butter Dough
Source: Based on this recipe from Cookies and Cups, with a caramel twist
Yield: ~28 cookies
Suggested equipment: stand mixer
Total Time: ~40 minutes
Cook Time: ~8-12 minutes, depending on your oven
Italics below are my own comments on the original recipes. I broke the directions into a few more steps, too
- 1 cup butter, melted and browned (instructions for browning below)
- 1¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk (meaning, 1 more yolk on top of the other 2 eggs)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
- 1½ cups crushed pretzels (roughly – you can adjust for your preferences, and I advise low-balling it a bit)
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, which is my standard. you could sub in dark or milk if you’d like)
- 1 cup caramel bits (I used Kraft Caramel Bits, per a different blogger’s suggestion. I recommend these vs. regular wrapped caramels because they baked in so nicely)
Step by Step Directions
Melt the butter
- In a medium saucepan melt 1 cup butter over medium-low heat
- When butter is melted continue to cook, swirling butter constantly until it becomes a golden brown color (the butter will smell sort of nutty when it’s ready. Keep a close eye on your browning butter – it’s easy to burn it if you’re not paying attention to its progress from yellow and melted, to brown and nutty)
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes
While the butter is cooling
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside
Make your dough
- In bowl of stand mixer mix butter and sugar together until combined (so you shouldn’t see separate chunks of butter and sugar anymore)
- Add in eggs, the additional yolk and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
- Add in baking soda, salt and flour. Mix on low until incorporated, then mix in crushed pretzels. (I mixed in the pretzels with my machine so they’d break into smaller pieces. I didn’t end up using the full 1.5 cups of pretzels because sometimes I get overwhelmed by too many pretzel pieces in cookies – it can overpower the actual dough)
- Stir in the chocolate chips and caramel bits (I did this step by with a mixing spoon instead of the mixer – you don’t want to overmix the dough)
- Using a large cookie scoop (or a tablespoon!) drop dough on baking sheet about 2 inches apart
- Bake until just golden at the edges, about 8-10 minutes. Centers might not seem done yet but remove the cookies (heed this warning – cookies always set more once you’ve removed them from the oven)
- Allow them to cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling
And then there’s the unofficial final step, of course: take the cookies to a bar and please your friends – and make new ones.