Caramel Frosted Cookies

These cookies were inspired by some I saw in a little coffee shop on the North Shore of Chicago. I have no idea what recipe they used, but the cookies were puffy, covered with caramel frosting, and had a drizzle of chocolate.    I created my own version yesterday morning, and the family gave them a big thumbs up.

Caramel Drops

These are sandy textured and crumbly, and once the caramel has set, they can be knocked around a bit, stacked, etc. In other words, they’re sturdy and easy to share.  The only thing I need now is a better name.  They’re not exactly turtles since they don’t have pecans, and calling them caramel cookies might be misleading since they’re not soft and chewy.  Also, if you’re not particularly into caramel frosting, which in my opinion is more like praline when it sets and less like chewy caramel, these cookies are great with traditional American style buttercream.

Caramel Frosted Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Crumbly, sandy textured cookies topped with caramel frosting and a chocolate drizzle.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 32
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (8 oz)** weigh for best results
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter or add 3/8 teaspoon of salt and use unsalted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavored emulsion (optional)
Caramel Frosting
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted if possible
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of room temperature milk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring
  • 3/4teaspoon vanilla
  • Garnish: A few ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate for drizzling, some flakes of kosher or sea salt
  1. In a small bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and cream of tartar.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until creamy. Gradually beat in the oil, then beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Add some butter flavoring if you like.
  3. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Batter should be too soft to roll -- it's similar to chocolate chip cookie dough in thickness. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes so that it's easier to shape into balls.
  4. When ready to bake, scoop up scant tablespoons of dough and shape into 1 inch balls. Arrange the balls about 2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment or foil lined (do not grease or use spray) baking sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, put the room temperature butter and both sugars in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches a boil. Remove from heat and stir in milk, then return to heat and return to a boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar. Stir vigorously, add vanilla, and continue stirring until lumps disappear and mixture starts to thicken (but not too much – it should still be runny enough to drizzle). With a tablespoon, spoon caramel frosting over cookies.
  6. If frosting gets hard in the pan, you can reheat it over low to medium low heat. However, it’s best to try to work quickly.
  7. To make the chocolate drizzle, you can melt the chocolate using your favorite method and drizzle it or pipe it on with a decorating bag. I used a heavy duty disposable Wilton decorating bag, put the chocolate directly in it, then microwaved the bag and chocolate at 50% power, kneading bag every 30 seconds, until the chocolate was melted. When chocolate was melted, I snipped off the tip and piped it over the cookies.
  8. I sprinkled a little salt on top of the cookies.
Bleached flour seems to cause less spreading, but you can use unbleached if you prefer. If spreading is a problem with the unbleached, bake the rounds in paper lined cupcake tins. If your cookies spread, the most likely culprit is just not enough flour. The correct amount is 8 ounces/224 grams weighed on a scale. Volume amounts aren't that accurate. For the butter flavoring, I used LorAnn vanlla butter emulsion. JoAnn fabric and Michael's sell it. You can leave it out if you want, it just adds a little extra flavor.


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  1. Erin says

    Thanks for sharing. These look great! Perhaps a name like “caramel sandies” to match their sandy texture. 🙂

  2. Sandra says

    Thanks so much for offering so many great recipes that use vegetable oil in place of butter. It hurts my baker’s heart to see the price of butter at the grocery store. 🙁

  3. says

    Sandra, I feel your pain! I think it went up by about a dollar. I just recently started buying it at Costco to save money.

  4. says

    Sure! It was Glenco Roasters. I wish I’d bought a cookie, but I was in a chocolate mood so we had chocolates and Intelligentsia coffee. We also went to Alchemy Coffee in Wilmette. The coffee was good, but the scones looked incredible! I am kicking myself for not buying one, but I’d already had breakfast.

  5. says

    I will add that we also had doughnuts from The Doughnut Vault in Chicago. Excellent! I wish we had doughnuts like that here. They’re my new favorite tied with Top Pot in Seattle, though Doughnut Vault’s were heavier in texture (in a good way).

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