Fantasy Chocolate-Caramel Delights

Recipe Description
From BHG 100 Best Cookies (2004) - described (accurately) as a "dream team of caramel, nuts, and chocolate." Looks beautiful, too!!
Preparation Steps:
Leave butter out to soften
Level of Difficulty:
Time Needed:
1 hour (+ 2 hours chilling)
1 egg
1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t. salt
16 vanilla caramels
3 T. whipping cream
1 1/4 c. finely chopped pecans
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 t. shortening
36 cookies
Separate egg, reserving yolk and white. Cover and chill egg white until needed. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat well. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.
In another bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well-combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Slightly beat reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1" balls. Roll balls in egg white, then in nuts. Place balls 1" apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Using your thmb, make an indentation in each cookie.
Bake in a preheated oven about 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Spoon some melted caramel mixture into the indentation of each cookie. Transfer to wire racks; cool.
In another saucepan, heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth; cool slightly. Transfer the warm mixture to a small plastic bag. Close bag and cut a small hole in one corner. Drizzle cookies with chocolate mixture.
Let cookies stand until chocolate is set.