Sure, these cookies may look like innocent chocolate cookies with pecans on top, but they hide a tasty secret. Bite into one and you will be rewarded with a rich, soft caramel middle that perfectly complements the brownie-like cookie and toasted nuts. I've made this recipe several times and the results have always been sinfully good.

Makes 48 cookies

You will need:

If you are going to toast the pecans, and I strongly suggest you do, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts in a baking pan and toast for about 10 minutes for whole nuts and maybe 5 to 6 minutes for chopped nuts. Give the pan a good shake occasionally while baking and pull the nuts out when they are a golden brown. Don't let them burn! Let the nuts cool completely before adding them to the dough.

In a large bowl, beat the butter by hand or with a mixer until it is creamy. Mix in both sugars and then the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, blend together the flour, baking soda, and the cocoa. Pour this over the wet ingredients in the large bowl and mix until everything is well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of the pecans by hand.

Cover the dough and place it in the fridge for 2 hours. This is very important because it helps keep the butter-rich dough from melting as you shape the cookies in the next step.

Once the dough is chilled divide it into 4 pieces. Each of these pieces will be further divided to make 12 cookies. Work with one or two pieces at a time and keep the rest in the fridge. Take a piece of the dough and wrap it fully around the caramel. If the caramel peeks through it will leak while the cookies are baking and potentially create a sticky mess. Roll the dough into a ball and dip the top in the remaining 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Place it on a greased cookie sheet. It is vital to grease the sheet to prevent any caramels from irreversibly attaching the cookie to the sheet. I've found that cookies made with the chocolate covered caramels tend to stick less than cookies made with plain caramels.

Bake the cookies in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for several minutes before gently removing them to a countertop. Lining the countertop with wax paper helps prevent sticking. Let the cookies cool completely before storing them.

These cookies are best warm to get the full gooey effect. Cooled cookies are sadly not as tasty and the caramel gets harder and chewier. You can reheat cooled cookies in a microwave for about 15 to 30 seconds to remelt the caramel. Be careful though, as the caramel quickly approaches molten rock temperatures.

Alternative recipes: You can substitute walnuts or peanuts for the pecans or remove the nuts altogether. I've also tried putting miniature peanut butter cups in the centers which are damn good and don't stick as much. You can also not put anything in the center and just make some simple but delicious chocolate cookies.

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