Whenever we try something this good, I always try to figure out a way to "deconstruct" it and make it at home, and after several attempts, I've created my own copycat recipe that looks, feels, and tastes just like the Panera treat! And starting with fresh browned butter and brown sugar, you just know that this cookie base is one of a kind!
I've made these with Kraft Caramel Bits and also with soft and chewy Kraft Caramels cut into pieces, and the votes were split. Some of my kids loved the slightly "harder" caramel bits, while others preferred the soft caramels instead. They're good either way - just know that you have options!
Panera sprinkles a little bit of flaky sea salt on top too, but I've used flaky sea salt in the cookie dough, and it seems to give the cookies a better flavor overall than just an arbitrary sprinkle on top. The pretzel pieces add just the right amount of "salty" to the sweet cookies, but if you like a saltier cookie, feel free to sprinkle away!
Thick, sweet and salty...it's the perfect cookie! Nom.nom.nom........