I do a lot of cookie baking…not just for my family to gobble up but also to serve to guests. One of my favorites to make is chocolate caramel thumbprint cookies. They’re just an extra-special cookie in how they taste and in how they look. They look spectacular on a tray at a bridal shower or tea party, or for dessert with ice cream after a dinner party. Not only that, these cookies are easy to prepare…really!
I make them ahead of time and freeze them. Then I pull them out of the freezer and set them out at room temperature 30-60 minutes before serving. Nobody would ever know they’d been frozen! To freeze them, put them on a single layer on a cookie sheet or large pate, uncovered, in the freezer for 1-2 hours until they are frozen solid. Then place them in a plastic freezer container, layered with sheets of waxed paper between each layer. They freeze wonderfully…and can be frozen for 2-3 months.
Here’s the recipe:
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL THUMBPRINT COOKIES
Cookie dough:1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
2 cups flour (unbleached or all-purpose)
2/3 cup cocoa
¼ tsp. salt
2 ½ to 3 cups finely chopped pecans
Caramel sauce:35 caramel candies
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Garnish:White, dark or milk chocolate candy melts or dipping chocolate wafers
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg yolks (set aside the whites to use later), vanilla and milk. Blend in flour, cocoa and salt. Shape into balls, using about a tablespoon worth of dough to form each ball. Place balls on a cookie sheet or large platter and refrigerate for about an hour to firm them up.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the two egg whites until frothy. Dip each chilled dough ball into the beaten egg whites, then roll into the chopped pecans. Place them on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Using your fingertip, melon baller, or the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in each cookie. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes—until cookies are set.
While cookies are baking, prepare caramel sauce. Unwrap the caramels and place them in a small saucepan. Add the heavy whipping cream. Stir over low heat until caramels are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. This should only take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Take cookies out of oven. Use your melon baller or end of the wooden spoon to press in the centers of the cookies once again. Place a dab of warm caramel into each indentation. (I use a small, demitasse spoon to do this and it works great!). Let the cookies cool to room temperature, and the caramel to harden. This will probably take about 30-45 minutes.
Once the cookies are cooled and the caramel is firmed up, melt the chocolate dipping discs in the microwave. Any chocolate you would use for dipping strawberries will work. Most grocery stores carry at least a few kinds, as well as Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. Heat them for one minute in the microwave, in a small bowl, then take them out and stir them. You will probably need to put the chocolate wafers back in the microwave to melt some more—but just for 15 seconds. Keep taking the wafers out of the microwave every 15 seconds and stirring them until the chocolate wafers are completely melted. Be careful not to overdo it because chocolate candy discs can easily scorch. The chocolate discs may appear to still be hard and have their shape while in the microwave. But once stirred, they may be completely melted. Put the melted chocolate in a decorator bag and drizzle on top of each cookie.
These cookies taste great just made, as well as after they are frozen! This recipe makes about 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on how big you make each dough ball.