Salted Caramel Cookies

This icky sort of weather — damp and cold — puts me in the mood and thought to bake. As I have admitted to you all many times, I feel I am a far better cook than I am a baker. However, I do enjoy the yummy “fruits of my labor,” as well as sharing them with those I love. This cookie is fun and a little different than your average drop cookie. And the best of all, it features salted caramel! What is not to love about that? Happy baking!

Bon Appétit! Chef Bettina*Bettina Tolin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin. She has cooked in the kitchens of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida. She is currently the executive chef and owner of the new Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits next to the historic lighthouse in Port Isabel.

FOR THE COOKIES:>> ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature>> 1 cup light brown sugar>> 1 large egg>> 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract>> 2 cups all-purpose flour>> ¾ teaspoon baking soda>> ½ teaspoon kosher salt

FOR THE CARAMEL:>> 8 ounces/225 grams store-bought soft caramels, unwrapped>> 2 tablespoons heavy cream>> Flaky sea salt

Position oven racks near the center and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, baking soda and fine sea salt and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and divide it in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, patting into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-tablespoon-size portions (you should have about 20). Using your hands, roll the dough into balls and place on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 1/2 inches between pieces. Wipe the bottom of a glass with a damp towel and use it to press the cookies flat (they should be about 1/3-inch thick).

Bake the cookies, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until the edges are golden brown, 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool completely. Take care not to overbake them.

Place the unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until melted and smooth.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, spoon a generous teaspoon of caramel into the center of each cookie. Spread the caramel evenly over the surface, leaving a 1/4-inch uncoated edge. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on top.

Note: If the caramel becomes too thick as you work, reheat over medium-low heat on the stovetop, stirring, until fluid.

Let the cookies cool at room temperature until the caramel sets, about 15 minutes, before serving.