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Decadent dark chocolate cookies stuffed with caramel and topped with sea salt. Totally worth every bite!

Dark chocolate cookies with sea salt and caramel on a yellow plate

When Nestlé Toll House approached me last month to be apart of their Dark Pinspirations SweepstakesI nearly fell off my chair! You see, today’s cookies were in a Nestle baking contest with some other great talent! If you like dark chocolate, you have to check out the other recipes in the contest.

Update: My cookies won the contest! Yep, the cookies you see here are worth $5,000 and won the Nestle Baking Contest. I can’t thank you all enough for voting! I call them my $5,000 cookies. 😉

Dark chocolate cookies with sea salt and caramel on silpat

Making them is so easy.

The chocolate cookie recipe is quite simple and standard using my go-to base chocolate cookie dough recipe. Have you made these double chocolate chip cookies or s’more chocolate crinkle cookies before? If so, you’ve tried this dough! For today’s version, I stuff the cookies with Rolo candies and add plenty of dark chocolate chips. Top each with sea salt before baking.

stack of salted caramel dark chocolate cookies with caramel in the middle

To make the chocolate cookies, start with some room temperature butter. Cream it with granulated and brown sugars. As directed in the recipe below, add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat the mixture and scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl with a spatula as needed. Whisk the dry ingredients together including flour, unsweetened natural cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, add a splash of milk and all of your chocolate chips. Pretty easy!

Dark chocolate cookies with sea salt and caramel on a silpat

The cookie dough is very sticky, so it’s imperative that it chills in the refrigerator before assembling and baking the cookies.

Dark chocolate cookies with sea salt and caramel

Now comes the fun part! Grab 18 chocolate coated caramel candies or regular soft caramel candies (I prefer to use Rolos). Take 2 Tablespoons of chilled dough and split in half. Roll each into a ball with your hands. Stick a caramel into 1 ball, sort of like a cradle. Top the candy with the other ball of dough and seal down the sides so that the candy is securely stuffed inside. Very similar to how we prepare these caramel snickerdoodles, too. Who doesn’t love a cookie with a caramel surprise inside?!

Top the cookie with a sprinkle of sea salt. Now it’s time to bake. The chocolate cookies are rather large and they will appear underbaked and very soft when you remove them from the oven. These chocolate cookies keep beautifully, and even get even softer on day 2.

Just wait until you try one fresh out of the oven!

Dark chocolate cookies with sea salt and caramel on a teal plate

Now let’s look at the selling points here:

  • Caramel oozing everywhere.
  • Melty dark chocolate.
  • Fudge brownie-like interior.
  • Sea salt on top to accentuate the sweetness.

Thick cookies, chewy exterior, soft-baked consistency. All of my cookie requirements! I know you are going to love these chocolate cookies. And they are surprisingly easy to make.

Print
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stack of dark chocolate cookies with sea salt and caramel with caramel showing

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 18 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Decadent dark chocolate cookies stuffed with caramel and topped with sea salt. Totally worth every bite!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup (115g) 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 (spoon & 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held 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 extract, and then beat on high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. 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 into the wet ingredients. Beat on low until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Switch to 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  6. 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, closing the candy tight 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Cover leftover cookies tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 5. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Read my tips and tricks on how to freeze cookie dough.
  2. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: caramel chocolate cookies, salted caramel dark chocolate cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. These cookies were AMAZING! Everyone raved about them!
    The key is to not over bake them. This is a keeper! Thank you Sally!

    1. Hi Debbie, although we haven’t tested it ourselves, you could try using a plant-based butter and plant-based milk in place of the dairy versions called for. Let us know what you try!

  2. This recipe was awful. I’m so sorry to leave a negative review, but it puzzles me how Nestle payed 5,000€ for them. I did everything the recipe told me to do: creamed together butter and sugar; used half brown sugar, half white; chilled the dough; sifted the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder; I even used rolos like Sally said. I don’t know what went wrong! Baked them for 13 mins at designated temperature and they were SUPER soft. It felt like they had been baked for 5 minutes. I left them to cool but after 10 mins they still stayed very soft. 20 minutes? Still very soft, almost like they were undercooked. We ate them, and here’s the verdict: the rolos didn’t’t melt so the middle was weird and chunky and the texture was kind of sandy. The flavour wasn’t mind blowing, and even a bit of delicious homemade caramel sauce on top of these didn’t save them. It was my daughter’s birthday, and salted caramel + chocolate is one of her favourite combinations. I was so sad to disappoint her. I’m so sorry to leave a bad review, as I do adore your site, Sally. Just that this recipe really wasn’t my jam. Sorry.
    Xoxo Caroline

    1. Hi Caroline, thank you so much for the feedback. I wonder if the Rolo candies you used were particularly old? Because if they’re hard or crumbly, they won’t melt down or soften up as the cookies bake. Did you by chance make the cookies larger than the recipe states? If so, they would need a little longer in the oven. Regardless, thank you for the feedback.

      1. No, I bought the packet of rolos from the newsagent’s shop the day before especially to make the recipe. I don’t usually have them around my house – otherwise the kids (and my wife) would eat them. I did what the recipe told me to do for the size: two tablespoons of cookie dough, split in half, stuff the rolo inside and create a ball. It’s ok, not every recipe you write can be perfect. Thank you.
        My daughter says: « Thank you Sally for all your yummy recipes that mummy cooks for us. I am sad the cookies weren’t nice but otherwise your recipes are very good. » thanks very much Sally.

  3. I’ve made these twice now and for sure they are THE MOST AMAZING COOKIES EVER. My favorite of all of Sally’s cookies and of all cookies ever. It is a MUST to have them warm. If not fresh out of the oven, put in microwave for a few seconds. And a MUST to have with a glass of milk. All that being said, I do have a suggestion to make them even better! Replace 1/2 of the chocolate chips with PEANUT BUTTER CHIPS. You will not regret this decision! Chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter. All gooey. What could be better?

  4. Do you think a riesen chocolate caramel would work for the caramel? They’re rather chewy- way more than a rolo, but I love them better than rolos.

    1. Hi Stephannie! I’m not familiar with those caramels but as long as they’re not too thick to easily bite though they should be ok!

  5. Wondering if I could use Dulce de Leche in this recipe. It’s one of my favorite ingredients to use since it the only requirement is opening a can. I try to use it in any recipe calling for caramel. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. By the way, I am constantly visiting your website for any baking need. However, this Christmas it’s been a life saver. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Gail, we haven’t tested it ourselves so we can’t be certain of how it would work. But let us know if you try it! And we’re so glad to hear that you’ve been enjoying the site for all your Christmas cookies — happy baking to you!

  6. Hi, Sally!

    I made these cookies for the first time today. Everything went well until I took them off the cookie sheet and put them on a wire rack to cool; I didn’t notice it at first, but the caramel started coming out the bottoms of the cookies!!

    I let them sit for five minutes before I tried moving them, so I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. I used soft salted caramels from Target. Do you think they were too large, maybe? Should I have cut the caramels in half?

    I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m sure they’ll still taste great.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Erica! The caramel should be completely surrounded by the chocolate cookie dough to prevent it from spilling out. Make sure there’s no caramel peeking out before you bake the cookies! Smaller chunks of caramel would definitely help for next time. Hope you love them!

  7. I had these made by a friend. Mind blowing delicious. I went home and tried to make them. They tasted delicious, but seemed extra gooey, especially when trying to transfer to the cooling rack. Followed directions, but would love any pointers or tips. Thanks!

    1. Hi Chantel, it sounds like they may need just another minute or two in the oven to help them bake a bit more. They will continue to bake ever so slightly on the sheet once removed from the oven, too, so you can try leaving them to cool for a bit longer before transferring. So glad you loved these cookies!

      1. That definitely helped. Thank you. Also I think it helped to leave the dough in the fridge overnight. They turned out great.

  8. I was initially nervous to try this recipe because of the small amount of reviews, but I’m delighted with the results — they came out perfect and exactly as pictured and described.
    I will say though, that this recipe makes 22 cookies, not eighteen. I measured exactly 2 Tbsp. of dough per cookie and had exactly enough dough for 22 cookies.
    I will make these again!

  9. Hi Sally,
    I love all of your recipes and am wanting to make this one for a Christmas Cookie exchange. I would like to freeze the dough ahead of time and bake them closer to the day. Is it possible to freeze the dough with a Rolo inside each cookie so I don’t have to assemble them before I bake them? Thank you in advance and I appreciate all of your recipes and advice.

    1. Hi Cynthia, yes, you can freeze the cookie dough balls with the Rolos inside. See recipe notes for freezing details. Hope they’re a hit!

  10. If you are craving dark chocolate with a splash of caramel this is the cookie for you! I used Rolos & when served warm, turned out just like the pictures! I stored them in the fridge & just warmed them in the microwave before serving to really soften the caramel. I recommend using disposable food prep gloves to create nice balls & to keep things tidy & easy clean up! Thank you Sally for another great recipe!