Soft shortbread cookies topped with gooey caramel and crunchy pecans. These Caramel Pecan Cookies are a winner!
Guys (and gals), I have a confession to make. We tend to lag behind when it comes to upgrading technology around here. I mean, we do get there…but sometimes it takes us a bit of time. We were a solid year or two behind on getting smart phones. (To be fair, we were in grad school at the time. Smart phones sounded like fun, but so did eating something besides peanut butter sandwiches.)
We were also a solid two or three years behind on getting a snow blower once we moved to upstate New York. We stubbornly believed that two shovels were just as effective, and we convinced ourselves that it was a good workout. Then came 2014: the year of the Polar Vortex. (Remember the Polar Vortex?) We now have a snowblower. We were also way behind on some of the more popular tv shows. We started borrowing the Game of Thrones DVDs from our neighbor, and now we’re hooked.
The other night, my wife left to go play in an all-women’s curling tournament. That meant I was home alone all Saturday afternoon and evening. Since we are at the height of college basketball season, I lit a fire in the fireplace and watched a game or two (a game and a half to be exact). Then I curled up on the couch and read several chapters of the first book of Game of Thrones. (See, I told you we get on board…we’ve seen all of the episodes, and now I’m working my way through the books.)
But something was missing. Snacks. My sweet tooth was calling my name, so I hopped up and made a batch of Caramel Pecan Cookies. It’s a good thing I had to wait a bit for the caramel to set or otherwise I might have eaten the entire tray of cookies before my wife came home! (My wife took half of these cookies with her when she went back to the curling club the next morning. The container came back empty.)
So these Caramel Pecan Cookies. Um, yeah, you need these in your life. Think shortbread cookie loaded with caramel and pecans on top. These seriously might be one of my favorite cookies ever. I made my own caramel topping for these, but you could totally cheat and use store-bought caramel. However, I must say that making caramel is kinda fun. It took me several attempts at first. I had a tendency to cook it too long, and that led to a not-so-pleasant burnt caramel flavor. If you’ve never made homemade caramel, give it a shot…add it to your repertoire of kitchen skills!
As for me, I’m gonna head back to the couch with my Game of Thrones book. Winter is coming.
Caramel Pecan Cookies
For the Cookie Crust
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 9 oz. unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Caramel Pecan Topping
- 2½ cups pecans coarsely chopped
- 2¼ cups sugar
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
For the Cookie Crust
- Grease the edges of a rimmed baking sheet. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set pan aside. (Tip: Use a long piece of parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges by 1-2”. This will make it easier to remove the cookies later. This is an important step!)
- In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir together until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a countertop mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes on medium speed).
- Add the eggs and vanilla; mix on low speed until well combined.
- Add the flour mixture; mix on low speed until well combined.
- Press dough evenly into prepared baking sheet. (Tip: This dough is sticky. Use a piece of wax paper to press the dough evenly into the pan.)
- Bake at 375°F for 22-24 minutes, or until light golden brown in color. Allow cookies to cool before adding Caramel Pecan Topping.
For the Caramel Pecan Topping
- Spread the pecans evenly on a sheet pan and bake at 350°F for 7-8 minutes. Set pecans aside.
- Using a medium saucepan, add the sugar and place over medium heat. Heat until sugar begins to melt. Continue melting the sugar, stirring occasionally, until it's fully melted and turns light golden brown. (If you have a candy thermometer, heat the sugar until it reaches Firm Ball stage, or ~245°F.)
- Remove pan from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. (Note: Use caution at this step as the mixture will boil vigorously and then harden when the cream is added.)
- Return pan to low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture dissolves and is smooth.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, salt and toasted pecans.
- Pour Caramel Pecan Topping over baked (and cooled) cookie crust. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, or until topping begins to bubble at edges of pan.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely. (If needed, you can throw the pan in the refrigerator to speed up this step.)
- Slice cookies into triangles or squares before serving.
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