Salted Caramel Cookies

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These Salted Caramel Cookies make the ultimate show-stopping, soft-yet-sweet, bakery-style cookie! These cookies start with a graham cracker cookie base, are loaded up with cream cheese frosting, and drizzled with salted caramel sauce (or plain caramel sauce if you prefer!). 

 

View of Salted Caramel Cookies.

Salted Caramel Cookies

One of my husband’s favorite desserts is cheesecake with lots of caramel sauce. I decided to pull all the best aspects of a salted caramel cheesecake and channel it into a fun and delicious cookie recipe!

We’ve got the graham cracker crust channeled into a graham-cracker flavored cookie base, the creamy cheesecake filling is transformed into a creamy mascarpone and cream cheese frosting, and the salted caramel is drizzled right on top of everything.

If you’re wondering how these went over, he claims them to be his very favorite cookie recipe on this website!

While Salted Caramel Cookies have quite a few steps and are overall fairly time consuming, they’re also very easy to make. If you’re looking to wow family or friends this holiday season, these are the cookies to make! PLUS, you will get some leftover caramel sauce out of the process. And that’s a big win-win, in my book!

Process steps: Combine all the wet ingredients; blend the graham crackers to make crumbs; stir crumbs into the batter; shape into tall cylinders; bake.

Salted Caramel Cookies Tips

  • Safe the leftover egg white. The additional egg yolk contributes to richer flavor and softer texture. You can save the egg white and add it to breakfast the next morning (we love this egg skillet) or use it in our favorite egg wrap

Graham Crackers

For these Salted Caramel Cookies, there are actual graham crackers mixed into the cookie dough. This creates a strong graham presence and flavor that contributes to the softness and sweetness of the cookies. A couple of tips:

  • Thoroughly crush the graham crackers. While you can crush the graham crackers in a bag with a rolling pin, I highly recommend a blender or food processor. It’s important to have fine crumbs throughout the entire cup of graham crackers. Larger chunks will mess up the texture of the cookies.
  • Measure carefully. Once the crackers are thoroughly crushed, we can get the exact measurement. Spoon the crushed crumbs into a measuring cup, making sure to fill the cup to the very top and level off the top with the back of a table knife. While the crumbs don’t necessarily need to be packed into the measuring cup, be sure to completely fill the cup to get the right measurement.

Caramel process shots: combine ingredients and boil for two minutes; remove from heat and stir in vanilla; let stand to thicken.

Caramel Sauce Topping

While you can purchase caramel sauce to top these cookies, nothing beats homemade! The homemade Caramel Sauce I share with these cookies is so simple to make (only six ingredients and no candy thermometer needed).

The caramel sauce makes more than you’ll need for these cookies, but it works best in this quantity. Use leftover caramel sauce as a dip for apples or other fruit, as an ice cream topping, or to drizzle over a sweet breakfast like pancakes or waffles

For an easier caramel sauce, I’d recommend combining 1 bag (4.51 ounces) of Werther’s Original Soft Caramels® and 2 and 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream. Unwrap the caramels and heat them along with the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until completely smooth and then set aside to slightly cool and thicken; then drizzle over the cookies. Note: be sure to use the soft caramels, not the hard ones.

QUICK TIP

For visual appeal, add an unwrapped caramel on top of these cookies to garnish. My favorite (affordable) caramels to garnish these salted caramel cookies with are Werther’s Soft (not original) caramels. (Here’s a visual of the bag (not sponsored)). These caramels have a great flavor and are very soft, so they meld into the frosting nicely. I like to cut the caramels in half and then add one half to the top of each cookie.

Process shots: making the cream cheese topping with mascarpone; beat mascarpone together with butter and cream cheese; add in vanilla and powdered sugar; beat to combine; frost salted caramel cookies.

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting

This is one of the secrets to the creamy and rich, but not sickeningly sweet, cream cheese frosting. If you aren’t familiar with Mascarpone cheese, it’s similar to cream cheese, but uses a base of whole cream rather than milk. It’s an un-aged fresh cheese and can be found usually in one of three places in the grocery store: the deli counter, in the dairy section (near the cream cheese, sour cream, etc.), or in the specialty foods section (near fancier cheeses like brie). 

If you have a grocery store app, I recommend using that to quickly locate it in your specific store. 

QUICK TIP

If you’d prefer to not use mascarpone cheese, these salted caramel cookies will still be great; I’d recommend making a half batch of this plain cream cheese frosting instead.

Here are a few frosting tips:

  • Set out the butter, mascarpone cheese, and cream cheese about an hour before baking to get them to room temperature. If these ingredients aren’t at room temperature, they won’t combine as smoothly, and there will be unpleasant cream cheese chunks in the frosting.
  • Slowly add in the powdered sugar. Add more or less powdered sugar, according to personal taste preferences. More sugar will make the frosting sweeter and firmer, and less sugar will leave the frosting tangier and softer.
  • Frosting the cookies. Wait for the cookies to fully cool and firm up before frosting them, so the frosting doesn’t melt or change consistency.

Close-up view of Salted Caramel Cookies.

Salted Caramel Cookie Storage

Because of the mascarpone and cream cheese ingredients, these cookies don’t store or freeze well once they’re frosted. If you’re going to have extra cookies that won’t be enjoyed the same day, I recommend storing the frosting, caramel sauce, and cookies separately and adding frosting and caramel sauce right before serving. The frosting and caramel sauce need to be stored in separate airtight containers in the fridge, while the cookies do best when stored at room temperature.

Warm leftover caramel sauce in the microwave in 10-second bursts, stirring in between each burst until warm enough to pipe over the cookies.

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Salted Caramel Cookies

0 from 0 votes
These Salted Caramel Cookies make the ultimate show-stopping, soft-yet-sweet, bakery-style cookie! These cookies start with a graham cracker cookie base, are loaded up with cream cheese frosting, and drizzled with salted caramel sauce (or plain caramel sauce if you'd prefer!). 
Print Recipe

Salted Caramel Cookies

0 from 0 votes
These Salted Caramel Cookies make the ultimate show-stopping, soft-yet-sweet, bakery-style cookie! These cookies start with a graham cracker cookie base, are loaded up with cream cheese frosting, and drizzled with salted caramel sauce (or plain caramel sauce if you'd prefer!). 
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword salted caramel cookies
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 12 minutes
Servings 20
Calories 590kcal
Cost $6.01

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup; 170g) unsalted butter melted
  • 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (120g) light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 large egg yolk (discard or save the whites for another recipe)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (230g) white all-purpose flour measured correctly (See Note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup (113g) graham cracker crumbs (lightly packed, about 9 full sheets)

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 ounces (105g) full fat cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup (107g) mascarpone cheese (OR use 4 more ounces cream cheese), softened
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup; 113g) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 cups (363g) powdered sugar

Caramel

  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup; 113g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (227g) light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 cup (310g) light corn syrup (like Karo)
  • 1 can (14 oz. 396g) sweetened condensed milk (regular, not fat-free)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt add to taste preference
  • Optional: Werther's soft caramels and sea salt flakes for topping

Instructions

COOKIES

  • BUTTER AND SUGARS: Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Set aside and let cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes. (If the butter is hot when it is added to the sugars, it will melt the sugars and cause greasy cookies.) Once the butter has cooled, pour it into a large bowl. Add in the brown and white sugar. Stir well until completely incorporated and smooth.
  • EGGS AND VANILLA: Add in 1 full egg and 1 egg yolk. (Discard the white or save for another recipe). Add in the vanilla and stir until smooth.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: In another bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cornstarch. Add whole graham crackers to a blender or food processor and crush until you have 1 cup of very fine crumbs (gently pack in the measuring cup). Add the graham cracker crumbs to the dry ingredients. Stir everything to combine.
  • COMBINE: Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined avoiding over-mixing.
  • ROLL COOKIE DOUGH BALLS: Using a tablespoon, measure 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie (45g if you have a food scale per cookie). Roll the cookie dough balls large and tall (rather than round). Place on a parchment paper-lined plate, cover tightly and chill for 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
  • BAKE: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (162 degrees C) and line a pan with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Space 6 cookies per cookie sheet (because they spread a lot). Bake for 10-14 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and immediately use the back of a spoon to press the edges of each cookie into the center. Work quickly-- the cookies firm up quickly. This will give each cookie a great crispy edge. Let stand on the tray for 4 more minutes then use a spatula to remove the cookie from the sheet pan to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING

  • FROSTING: Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large bowl and a hand mixer), beat the softened (not melted) cream cheese, softened mascarpone cheese, and softened butter until creamy for about 2 minutes at medium-high speed. Add the salt and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, gradually, beating in between additions, until the frosting is soft and creamy. Avoid over-beating the mixture or you'll get whipped frosting. (If the frosting does happen to be too wet, add a bit more powdered sugar and if it is too dry, add a touch of milk or cream.)
  • FROST COOKIES: Generously frost completely cooled cookies with a table knife. Depending on how generously you frost the cookies (we love frosting, so use quite a bit!) you'll have some leftover. (See Note 1)

CARAMEL SAUCE

  • COMBINE: Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter is melted and ingredients are completely combined.
  • BOIL: Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Immediately remove from heat.
  • FLAVOR ADDITIONS: Let the mixture cool for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add in the vanilla extract and salt to taste. Add salt gradually. (Not all salts will salt this sauce the same. Add more for a salted caramel sauce and less to just season the sauce.)
  • THICKEN AND FROST: Let the sauce stand to thicken for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then transfer to a plastic bag. Seal without air and cut off the tip with scissors. Pipe a generous drizzle of caramel over the frosted cookies. If desired, top each cookie with an unwrapped and halved soft caramel and a small sprinkle of sea salt flakes.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: This recipe makes more frosting and caramel sauce than you'll need for the cookies. Both of these recipes work better with this quantity; too small a batch and it won't combine well. Use leftover frosting to top pancakes or waffles for a fun dessert. Use leftover caramel sauce as a dip for apples or other fruit, as an ice cream topping, or to drizzle over a sweet breakfast like pancakes or waffles. 
Note 2: If you press a measuring cup into a bag of flour, you will pack in way too much flour; use a spoon to scoop it into a measuring cup and then level the top with the back of a table knife.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 20g | Calories: 590kcal | Carbohydrates: 96g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 327mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 73g | Vitamin A: 628IU | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg

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