Salted Caramel Mocha Cookies

I’ll never forget the year Starbucks released their Salted Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate. It was simultaneously the best and worst holiday season ever. It didn’t take long for this perfect flavor combination to become a near every day occurrence in my life.

Did I mention I was living in northern Idaho at the time? It was cold, and nothing says comfort from the cold like a warm, rich, delicious drink. Except maybe a warm soft and chewy chocolate cookie filled with gooey caramel and topped with coarse sea salt. I knew as soon as my amazing friend Nicole shared some of her amazing caramels with me, that I wanted needed to make these cookies.

Do you feel comforted yet? Once upon a time I used to be the comforting one. I was the one everyone went to when they had a bad day, and I would listen and give tons of advice that I probably had no business giving because I was kind of a hot mess myself, but I was, like, 20 years old and thought I knew everything. You know how it goes. I had (ummm, wait…I still have…) a special “heart to heart” pillow. That’s a little embarrassing. You hold it while you cry then I feed you words that magically fix everything, and at the same time put an end to world hunger. I know, I am so cool.

These days however, I’m painfully aware that I know basically nothing, and so instead of pretending to be smart, I shove cookies in people’s face and call it “my way of showing I care”. Somehow, I think people prefer this.

I may not be a master with words, but I have to say, I am pretty much a master of soft, gooey cookies. I mess up a lot of things in the kitchen (including ending up with things that are kind-of-not-really-at-all-baked on a regular basis…), but I always have soft cookies, and these cookies are like biting into a dark chocolate mocha brownie, finding surprise caramel on the inside, and then getting the hint of salt that cuts through the sugar to provide perfect balance.

I wish I could solve all your problems by shoveling them into your mouth right at this moment. Keep me in mind for the next time, though…   Salted Caramel Mocha Cookies yield 20 cookies

  • 1/2 tbsp espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process or Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup + 2 tbs white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 2/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 10 caramels, halved
  • 2-3 tbs mini dark chocolate chips
  • coarse sea salt for topping (such as fleur de sel)
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together espresso powder, cocoa powder, baking powder and flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, sugar, vanilla and egg until well combined. Beat in dry ingredients. Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Form dough into 1″ balls. Press 1/2 caramel into the center of each ball and roll dough around until it is covering it completely, then place on lined baking sheet. Gently press a pinch of mini dark chocolate chips onto the top of each dough ball, then top with a pinch of salt.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes until the edges have set and cookies pull easily off of the baking sheet. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.