Usually I only see caramels in square candy form. The last time I worked with caramels I had to unwrap dozens of candies. When I spotted a bag of small caramel bits, about the same size as chocolate chips and ready to be melted down or tossed in cookies, I picked them up.
I knew I was going to make these cookies with caramel, chocolate chips and pecans. A cookie with those ingredients will taste great; I wondered how I could elevate them to another level. Salted caramel is delicious, so I planned to sprinkle sea salt on the cookies when I took them out of the oven. To emphasize the caramel notes in the cookie dough, I used only brown sugar. Finally, I added a couple tablespoons of bourbon.
In the end, these cookies turned out to be a play on a Derby Pie, a chocolate, pecan and bourbon custard pie traditionally served on the weekend of the Kentucky Derby. It was very fitting that I baked these cookies, since the Derby is this weekend.
These cookies are ridiculously good, and rich, too. I almost ate two while I was tasting, but then thought better of it. The bourbon isn’t obvious, but it lends mystery and is a great background flavor.
This recipe makes 36 cookies.
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup caramel bits
Step 3. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir that into the eggs and butter.
Step 5. Using two small spoons, portion out the dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, 30 minutes in the freezer.
Step 6. Bake for 13-14 minutes. The instant the cookies are out of the oven, sprinkle them with sea salt. Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.