Salted caramel hot chocolate cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
36 chocolate-covered soft caramel candies (see cook's note)
1 cup finely chopped pecans (see cook's note)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Cream together butter, and white and brown sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla, blending well after each.
Add cayenne and blend very well to distribute evenly throughout cookie batter. Add cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend well.
Add flour and blend until just mixed.
Scoop cookies in rounded teaspoons or with a cookie scoop. Push chocolate-covered caramel candy into the center of dough ball and ensure cookie dough is completely wrapped in dough.
Mix chopped pecans and sea salt in a small bowl. Dip half of dough ball into pecan mixture. Place dough balls nut side up on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Chill for one hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes.
Makes about 36 cookies.
Cook's note: Angie Seaman uses Hershey's Rolo Carmels in Milk Chocolate for this recipe. She suggests candied pecans as an alternative to regular pecans.
— Angie Seaman of Hagerstown