Soft-baked and fudgy, easy but totally impressive—these salted caramel dark chocolate cookies check all the boxes. They won a Nestlé Toll House award back in 2013, and have been a popular favorite since!
When I originally published my salted caramel dark chocolate cookies in 2013, Nestlé Toll House invited me to participate in their Dark Chocolate Pinspirations Sweepstakes. My salted caramel dark chocolate cookies won 1st place! They were in great company with several other mouthwatering dark chocolate-inspired recipes in the contest. What an honor to be included among such a tasty bunch!
If you love dark chocolate, gooey caramel, and a little touch of salty with your sweet, these cookies will take 1st place in your book, too. Besides the fact that they’re award-winning, you’ll appreciate the recipe comes together with an easy cookie dough and even easier assembly process. Stuffing these cookies is as simple as wrapping the chocolatey dough around a Rolo caramel candy!
Grab your sweet tooth, a few chocolate-loving friends, and your cookie baking tools! Let’s get started.
You’ll Love These Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies
- Soft-baked and thick, yet dense and fudgy like homemade brownies
- Recipe is easily doubled
- Satisfies the most intense chocolate cravings
- Easy to stack and transport (don’t show up to your next gathering without a batch!)
- Made from 1 easy, versatile cookie dough
- Stuffed with soft Rolo chocolate caramel candies
- Like salted dark chocolate cookies but with ooey, gooey caramel centers
This Is My Basic Chocolate Cookie Dough
These cookies start with my go-to, dependable chocolate cookie dough. My recipe for double chocolate chip cookies produces an incredibly soft and fudge-like chocolate dough. With a dough that good, you bet I’ve used it to make just about every chocolate cookie combo you can think of, like chocolate crinkle cookies, inside-out chocolate chip cookies, and peppermint mocha cookies.
For today’s cookies, and for all of my variations using this same cookie dough, you need very basic kitchen ingredients like flour, butter, sugar, etc. Pay special attention to the unsweetened cocoa powder, though…
It’s important to use unsweetened natural cocoa powder, and not Dutch-process cocoa powder. Why? Because you’re using acidic baking soda. If you’re interested, you can learn more here about the difference between natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder.
Elevate Your Chocolate Cookies With These 3 Ingredients
The following 3 ingredients turn basic chocolate cookies into fancy-schmancy salted caramel dark chocolate cookies. The “bells and whistles” of today’s recipe, if you will. 😉
- Rolos or Soft Caramels: I prefer to use Rolo caramel candies as the caramel filling here, just like these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. You could use a regular soft caramel candy instead (like the Kraft caramels you see in these salted caramel pecan chocolate chip cookies), or try using homemade caramel candies.
- Dark Chocolate Chips: You can certainly use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips like you do when making chocolate chip cookies, but I love dark chocolate chips here. The deeper chocolate is perfectly balanced by the caramel and sea salt, so don’t worry if you’re not usually one to reach for dark chocolate treats. It’s all about balance!
- Sea Salt: To accentuate the sweetness, add a pinch of flaky sea salt right before baking. If you love the salty-sweet pairing here, try my recipes for salted caramel turtle brownies and salted caramel pretzel crunch bars next.
Just wait until you see your taste testers’ faces when they realize there’s a creamy, sweet caramel hiding inside the salted dark chocolate cookie. A look of surprise, followed by pure bliss!!
How to Assemble Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies
What kind of hoops must we jump through to create these caramel surprise cookies?? Great news: assembling these couldn’t be easier. But there is one important step to take first: the cookie dough needs to chill for at least 3 hours (I usually chill it overnight). This is a really soft, sticky cookie dough and is impossible to use if it hasn’t been refrigerated first.
Add caramel centers: Take 2 Tablespoons of chilled dough and divide in half. Roll each ball with your hands. Place the Rolo or caramel candy into the center of one ball (similar to a cradle). Top the candy with the other ball of dough and seal the sides together so that the candy is securely stuffed inside. The process is very similar to these caramel snickerdoodles.
Then bake. So simple.
Be sure to try a baked cookie once it’s cool enough to handle. You need to experience the “caramel pull” for yourself. The cookies are still wonderfully soft on day 2… if they make it that long!
Cookie Success Tips
- Use room-temperature ingredients: Don’t underestimate the importance of room-temperature ingredients.
- Wipe your hands between cookies: When rolling the chocolate dough, things can get a bit sticky. I like to stop and wipe my hands clean between every few cookie dough balls. Keeps the mess to a minimum!
- Help your cookies spread: If your cookies haven’t started to spread by around the 9-minute mark, remove the pan from the oven and lightly bang it on the counter a few times. This will help nudge them in the right direction (outwards!). Return the pan to the oven to finish baking.
- Even more success tips: Review my 5 best cookie baking tips to improve your next batch of cookies.
This award-winning recipe comes together with an easy cookie dough and even easier assembly process. Stuffing these salted caramel dark chocolate cookies is as simple as wrapping the chocolatey dough around a Rolo caramel candy! The dough needs to chill for at least 3 hours, but you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2/3 cup (55g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk
- 1 and 1/2 cups (270g) dark chocolate chips
- 18 chocolate-coated caramels, such as Rolos
- coarse sea salt
- Preliminary note: This cookie dough requires at least 3 hours of chilling, but I prefer to chill the dough overnight. The colder the dough, the thicker the cookies.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color, about 2–3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, and then beat on high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the dry into the wet ingredients. Beat on low until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Switch to medium-high speed and beat in the milk, then the chocolate chips. The cookie dough will be sticky and tacky. Cover dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this sticky cookie dough.
- Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 3 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This makes the chilled cookie dough easier to scoop and roll.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Scoop 2 Tablespoons of dough and divide in half. Roll each half into a ball. Make a thumb indent into 1 ball and place a caramel candy in the center. Top with other ball of dough and seal down the sides, enclosing the candy inside. Repeat with remaining dough and caramel candies. Arrange 2–3 inches apart on the baking sheets and lightly sprinkle sea salt on top of each. Tip: The cookie dough is certainly sticky, so wipe your hands clean after every few balls of dough you shape.
- Bake the cookies for 12–13 minutes or until the edges appear set and the centers still look soft. Tip: If they aren’t really spreading by minute 9, remove them from the oven and lightly bang the baking sheet on the counter 2–3x. This helps initiate that spread. Return to the oven to continue baking.
- Cool cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. During this time, I like to press a few more chocolate chips into the tops of the warm cookies. (This is optional and only for looks.) Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies will slightly deflate as they cool.
- Cover leftover cookies tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (step 3). Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls (with caramel candy center) also freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Check out my tips + tricks for how to freeze cookie dough.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer) | Baking Sheet | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Cooling Rack
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.
Keywords: salted caramel dark chocolate cookies