Chocolate Chip Caramel Pecan Cookies

I wrote this recipe last week during the blizzard, but didn’t publish it because I was hung up on a detail. This is somewhat unusual for me because I am not generally the sort of person who gets bothered enough by details to get hung up on them.

The detail had to do with portion scoops. I was quite sure I was confused because of my allergy to math and all things numbers. I carry a lot of shame that, as a pretty smart person with a doctorate, I can rarely work out even the most rudimentary number problem. So I assumed that everyone else understands portion scoops, and that I am just an irredeemable nitwit who shouldn’t try to write recipes.

And then I came across this thread on The Members of ATK , CC and CI Facebook group message board to which I subscribe (it is a source of good info and delight, I encourage you to follow my link and join). It became clear to me that I am not alone in my portion scoop mystification. So I hereby “come out” as a portion scoop nimrod who has been alone in a closet full of confusing utensils when I should have been playing happily with my equally scoop-deficient friends.

It’s a wonderful recipe, based loosely on one I found recently on my favorite food blog, Orangette. Molly’s recipe was a blondie, and based on one she found in one of her favorite cookbooks. Once, you try her recipe, or mine, you may wind up (as I did), putting caramel shards into all sorts of things, like yogurt and muffins. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Chocolate Chip Caramel Pecan Cookies

makes a dozen big cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick), softened, but still cool
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white or cane sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/3 cup caramel shards (see recipe below)

You can make these by hand, but I like the stand mixer for cookies, so adapt as you choose.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of the mixer fitted with the paddle, place the butter and sugars, beat on medium to combine well. Add the egg and vanilla, scraping bowl as needed to get everything well mixed. Now, add the flour mixture and keep the mixer on low to avoid making a huge, floury mess. As soon as the flour is incorporated, add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. You’ll want to do a few turns by hand just to get everything distributed.

Use a portion scoop that measures 2 inches across*. Alternatively, scoop with a big spoon and use your hands to make dough balls that are 2 inches in diameter. Place these on a sheet pan and freeze them for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375° and line a fresh sheet pan (or two) with parchment. You can bake up to 8 cookies in a single pan. I like to keep the dough frozen in a zip-lock bag and bake just as many as I need at a time.

Bake, from frozen, for 11 minutes. They should be just starting to brown. They won’t spread much.

*I think I can say that this is a #16 scoop, that it holds 2 oz. or 1/4 cup. But I say this with almost no confidence. I will also say that I don’t think it is that important and if you use the wrong size scoop, the cookies will still be delicious.

Caramel Shards

3/4 sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
2 tbs water

Line a sheet pan with parchment.

Place sugar and water in a heavy pan, and stir to moisten the sugar. Place over high heat. Don’t stir, but you may swirl the pan while it’s cooking. Cook until the caramel turns, well, caramel-colored. Immediately, pour the caramel onto the prepared pan and tilt the pan to make a thin, even layer. Be careful, molten sugar is dangerously hot!

Let cool completely, then break into 1/2 inch-ish shards. Be careful, here, these can be sharp! I know, this recipe is so dangerous!

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