Caramel thumbprint cookies will become your go-to dessert when you’re craving something sweet!Jump to Recipe
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My latest lockdown baking obsession: caramel thumbprint cookies! These babies are the perfect balance of sweet and a tiny bit of salt. I’ve been experimenting with these since the holidays and I still can’t stop eating them every batch! (Seriously. As I sit here writing, I’ve hidden them from myself in the back of the cabinet in hopes that I won’t eat one every time I go get a glass of water all day long.)
Because the caramel is so sweet, I pulled back on the sugar in the cookie itself. Using half brown and half white sugar makes it taste a little like a chocolate chip cookie, but with the texture of shortbread. The result is a plate of cookies you just can’t stop eating!
Like all cookies, it’s important to chill the dough. For thumbprint cookies in general, I like to make the dough and shape them right away, then put them in the fridge overnight.
The secret to getting that great circle shape is two things: first, keep the cookies as cold as possible until you bake. I leave them in the fridge until I pull the previous tray out, then pop them on and bake.
Second, you need a high oven temperature. Sometimes ovens fluctuate in temperature. My old Italian one goes by as much as 50 degrees above and below the temperature I set it to! (By the way, this is why you should buy an oven thermometer. They’re very cheap and will help you figure out why things aren’t baking/roasting/cooking correctly.)
Anyway, you need to make sure the oven is good and hot before putting them in. A lower temperature allows the butter to soften and melt, causing the cookies to become blogs. Delicious blobs, but still.
Based on the name, logic says use your thumb to make the indentation in the dough. I find that makes a wide shallow depression, not ideal for holding a liquid. Use your knuckle – it’s way better! And then when you pull the cookies out, you can always use a circular 1 tsp measuring spoon (metal is best) to gently press and reshape the hole. Do this immediately after pulling them out of the oven, they’ll hold the shape better.
My caramel recipe is exactly the one from Sally’s Baking Addiction, so I didn’t include it here. You can also use store-bought caramel sauce, whatever works for you. But the homemade stuff comes together in 10 minutes, so I’m all for that.
Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 egg yolk room temperature
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup caramel (recipe link above)
- Beat the butter for 3-5 minutes until creamed – look for it to be light and fluffy. Add both sugars and beat one minute more. Make sure to scrape down the sides to make sure everything's combining evenly.
- Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
- Add the flour in 3 batches, mixing on low until just incorporated. In the middle of adding flour, sprinkle in salt.
- Use your hands to roll 1 inch balls, then use a knuckle to make an indent in the middle. Chill for several hours, ideally overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. They won't spread too much, so you don't have to worry about spacing more than an inch or two apart.
- Bake 10-12 minutes. When the bottom edges are just beginning to darken, they're done. If necessary, use a teaspoon measuring spoon to re-shape the thumbprint as soon as you take them out from the oven.
- Let cookies cool completely before filling. Make caramel while they cool (recipe link above).
- Using a small spoon or teaspoon, spoon warm caramel into cookies. Let cool fully before serving.
Do you have a cookie recipe that you never get tired of? Let’s hear it!