Salted caramel-filled coffee cookies. Yes. Soft, homemade salted caramel nestled into a luscious coffee cookie. With this recipe, you will have soft caramel in your cookies even though they are cold!
We are about to enter cookie season, so let me show you some of my other favorites as well:
- chocolate crinkle cookies
- Norwegian Christmas Men cookies
- maple eggnog cookies
- and of course the macadamia nut and white chocolate cookies!
Why you’ll love this recipe
First of all, can I just say YUM? The combination of coffee and salted caramel all-in-one cozy cookie will make any day better.
Secondly, most salted caramel-filled cookie recipes use store-bought caramels. Although that is easier and not to mention quicker, they will only be good warm when the caramel is melted.
When they are cold, the caramel is too hard as opposed to the soft cookie, making it a weird texture and the cookie just crumbles before you even understand what's happening.
With this homemade caramel, these cookies can be eaten warm, with melted, delicious salted caramel - or they can be eaten cold with soft caramel inside.
The ingredients of these coffee cookies are quite basic to regular chocolate chip cookies. You should have most of it in your pantry already, especially if you're a coffee drinker. They include:
- Butter - the best-flavored fat. And fat is required for the texture and the perfect spread of the cookies.
- All-purpose flour - flour holds the cookies together while providing a chewy texture and a delicious crumb.
- Espresso powder - espresso powder has a really intense coffee flavor, so you don't have to add coffee in the form of liquid to the cookies, ensuring the delicious flavor but not altering the texture of the cookies. Best of both worlds!
- Baking soda and baking powder - leavening agents to help give rise to the cookies
- Salt - to enhance flavor, should never be omitted.
- Granulated sugar and muscovado sugar - granulated sugar adds to the crispness of the cookies and muscovado (or brown sugar) adds a butterscotch flavor and a chewy texture. You need to have both for the best cookies!
- Egg - provides fat, helps bind, thicken and emulsify, it's like magic!
- Pure vanilla extract - vanilla extract works with pretty much everything, coffee, and salted caramel are no exceptions.
- Bittersweet chocolate chunks (optional) - if you love a traditional chocolate chip cookie, it will be hard to leave out the chocolate chunks in this recipe. The cookies are so delicious without them, even better with them - it's your choice.
- Salted caramel candies - for these you will need sweetened condensed milk (homemade or store-bought, both are fine), butter, muscovado or brown sugar, granulated sugar, syrup (like honey, corn syrup, or light syrup), vanilla paste or a vanilla bean - and let's not forget the salt!
Homemade salted caramels
Prepare a 6x8 inches (15x20 centimeters) pan, bread pan, or something similar with parchment paper. Grease with butter or cooking spray as well.
Add all the ingredients, apart from the salt, to a non-stick saucepan (1-2). On medium heat, stir until the mixture simmers. Simmer for 12 minutes or until it reaches a temperature of around 230℉ (112℃)(3). This is the clue to keep them soft. Stir all the time.
Pour caramel into the pan (4), and sprinkle with sea salt. Let it cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator. At least 4 hours, but overnight is best. Cover the pan with foil.
Cut into ½ inch cubes, it makes about 50+ caramels. You could probably make 4 or 5 times the cookies. Individually wrap in parchment paper all the caramels you don't use for the cookies.
In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt (1).
Melt butter and let it cool for about 5 minutes (2).
In a large bowl, combine the cooled butter with both sugars and cream (i.e., mix) using a hand or stand mixer for about 2-3 minutes or until creamy and combined (3).
To the sugar-butter; add the egg and vanilla extract (4). Mix until creamy (5-6).
Being careful not to over-mix, add in the dry ingredients until just combined (7-8). Fold in the chopped chocolate if using. Chill for 2+ hours.
Pre-heat oven to 350℉ (175℃) and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the cookies, take 1 tablespoon of dough and quickly shape it into a ball. Press it down with one finger and place one caramel inside (9-10).
Take another 1 tablespoon of dough and make another ball you press down. Place on top of the caramel (11) and press the sides together to make sure no caramel will peep through (12).
Roll this again quickly into a neat ball. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough (13).
Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges brown and no obvious wet parts in the middle. Sprinkle with more Maldon salt after baking.
I prefer to store these unbaked in the freezer. Place the baking sheet with the unbaked cookie balls in the freezer, and once solid, add them to a ziplock bag. Keeps well for 4 months in the freezer.
To bake, bake as normal but add 2-3 minutes to the bake time. Take the cookie balls out of the freezer while you pre-heat the oven.
You can also store baked cookies both in a cookie box (4 days) or in the freezer (4 months).
Coffee in baking - Is espresso powder for baking the same as espresso powder?
- For flavor - Coffee is often added to baked goods and desserts to intensify the chocolate flavor. A 2020 study found that coffee increases our sensitivity to sweet flavors and decreases our sensitivity to bitter ones.
- Espresso powder - is very intensely dark and concentrated instant coffee. There are drinkable espresso powders, and there are espresso powders made solely for baking, like this DIY espresso powder.
- How to add it to a cake/cookie - a teaspoon will enhance chocolate flavors and a mild hint of coffee, use more and you will get a richer coffee flavor. Add it to the dry ingredients, or the wet ingredients - it doesn't matter. Because of its fine texture, it dissolves in liquids easily and blends seamlessly into dry ingredients.
- Substitutions - use 50% more instant coffee. If it is a lot, it may end up in a sour-tasting product as instant coffee is harsher.
How do you keep your caramels soft?
I really recommend a candy thermometer for this. Temperature is key to making sure you stop at the right time. I found that 230℉ (112℃) was absolutely the perfect texture for these coffee cookies. The lower the temperature you stop at, the softer they will be.
Hard-crack caramels are usually done at 300℉ (150℃), which would not work for this recipe. If it is too low, it will just be a sauce that will seep into the cookie, making it no longer a filled cookie, just a caramel cookie!
Crunchy, or crispy cookies, are made with less moisture in them. This means that regular granulated sugar will result in a crispy cookie, whereas a soft/chewy cookie is made with at least a portion of brown sugar.
For crispy cookies, using butter, that melts quicker, is also a good idea, resulting in a flatter cookie.
These things do not mean that you can't use white sugar and butter in soft cookies, they just need to be combined with other things too - like muscovado sugar in this recipe!
Avoid crystallization in caramels
To avoid crystallization in caramels, you can try to add two drops of vinegar and enough water to cover the sugar.
This way you will lower the pH of the caramel. A more acidic or alkaline environment speeds up caramelization. It can also start the caramelization at a lower temperature compared to the ‘normal’ caramelization temperature of that sugar.
Keep your butter cold. This is also why we leave the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. If you still have trouble with this, you can use frozen cookie balls.
Make the cookie balls, freeze them on a cookie tray (for 10 minutes or so) and add them directly to the preheated oven. This way it will take longer for the butter to melt, resulting in a taller cookie.
I prefer refrigerated dough as it is the perfect amount of spreading (to me).
Anyway, other tips you could try are to line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, shape the cookie balls more like a tall cone, and make sure you have a cold baking sheet (never from the oven).
It may also be because you have too little flour, or mixed the sugar and butter for too long making it too airy.
There are tons of things you can do, but my #1 tip is to keep your butter cold!
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