Salted caramel thumbprint cookies are rich and chewy cookies perfect for any occasion. Serve them up for the holidays or keep them to yourself all year long and you’ll always have a great treat nearby.
There’s never a wrong time for chocolate thumbprint cookies with caramel and sea salt. The contrast of flavors really works together in your favor.
The cookies are rich, creamy, chewy, and indulgent to the last bite. Packed with so much flavor and great textures it’s not hard to see why we love this recipe!
What Are Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies?
These caramel thumbprint cookies are super easy to make. Made with a rich chocolate cookie dough and then filled with a homemade caramel in the center and topped off with some salt, every bite is a blend of great flavors and textures working together to impress your tastebuds. You’re going to love these chocolate caramel thumbprint cookies!
Ingredients you’ll need for Thumbprint Cookies:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Cocoa powder
- Heavy cream
For the exact measurements, please see the recipe card below.
How to Make Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
In a mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until well blended. This can take up to 5 minutes with an electric mixer.
Add in the egg and combine. It’s important that the egg is at room temperature so that it doesn’t disrupt the blended butter and sugar you just made.
Add in the vanilla extract and mix again to combine.
In a different bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Add them to the butter mixture and stir to combine.
Roll the dough out into 1 tablespoon-sized balls.
Use the back of a teaspoon measuring spoon to press the center of each ball to make a hole. You can also use your thumb to press the indent. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes and immediately after baking, press the centers again with the back of the teaspoon measuring spoon while the cookies are still warm.
Let the cookies cool completely before filling with caramel sauce.
How to make the caramel sauce
In a heavy-bottomed pan, add in the sugar and water. Once the water has combined with the guar, place the pot over medium heat to caramelize the mixture. This will take 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your pot. While the sugar water is cooking, do not touch or stir the pot!
If sugar gets stuck to the sides of the pot, just scrape them down and into the caramel mixture.
You don’t want it too light or too dark in color and make sure that the mixture doesn’t burn.
When the caramel sauce is a nice amber color, it’s almost finished.
Remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream.
Add in the butter and stir to combine.
Place the pot on the stove one more time and let it simmer until the caramel begins to bubble (this should take about 1-2 minutes).
Remove the pot from the heat and add in the salt and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
Let the caramel cool and chill before using.
Fill each cookie with 1 teaspoon of the homemade caramel sauce. You will have caramel sauce leftover.
Top with a sprinkling of sea salt and enjoy.
Caramel sauce. You should make the caramel sauce before beginning on the cookies so that it has enough time to cool and set before using. If you are in a hurry, you can simply use a thick store-bought caramel sauce (not the pourable ice cream topping kind).
Room temperature heavy cream. You want your heavy cream to be close to room temp before using it so that it incorporates more easily into the caramel sauce. It also helps the caramel to cook faster than if you were adding cold cream to it.
Room temp egg. Your egg should be at or as close to room temp as possible before using but if you need to speed up the warming process (maybe because you forgot to pull it out of the fridge in advance) just stick the egg in a bowl of warm water (not hot!) for about 10 minutes. Then crack and the egg as directed.
How long are caramel-filled thumbprint cookies good for?
These cookies are good for up to 5 days if kept stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I do not recommend letting the cookies rest at room temperature for more than a few hours because the caramel can spoil if left out too long.
Why are they called thumbprint cookies?
The name comes from the way that the cookies are prepared. The dough is rolled into a ball, placed onto a baking sheet and then a thumb is used to press an indent into the center of the cookies. While you don’t have to use a thumb to make the indent, it is the more traditional method and the method that has been around the longest. Other ways to make the indent include the back of a spoon or measuring spoons.
Should you fill thumbprint cookies before or after baking?
Different cookie recipes will have different answers on this but for these caramel-filled cookies, we want to fill them after the cookies have been baked and cooled. This will help to make sure that the cookies and the homemade caramel sauce are at peak perfection and have the best textures and taste. Add the caramel before baking would turn the caramel hard and the cookies mushy.
More thumbprint cookie recipe to try soon
We love salted caramel recipes and these ones are some of our favorites!
- Salted Caramel Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- Salted Caramel Iced Mocha
- Baileys Salted Caramel Fudgy Brownies
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Salted Caramel No Bake Eclair Cake
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup cacao powder
Homemade Caramel Sauce (yields 1 cup, but for this recipe, you’ll need ½ cup)
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- Mix the softened butter with sugar until very soft and creamy. This could take up to five minutes if using an electric mixer.
- Then add one egg and mix to combine; it’s essential that the egg is at room temperature, or it could break the emulsion made with butter and sugar.
- Then add vanilla extract and combine.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a different bowl, and add them to the butter mixture. Stir to combine.
- Roll the dough into 1 tbsp balls, 28-30 gr each (about 1 oz). Then, using a 1 tsp spoon, press in the center of each ball to make a hole. You can also use your thumb and honor these famous cookies.
- Refrigerate the cookies for 1 hour.
- Once you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Immediately after baking, the holes will seem less dip than before, so press the center again with the 1 tsp spoon with the cookies still warm.
- Let the cookies cool completely before filling them with the caramel sauce.
- To make the caramel sauce:
- Add sugar and water into a heavy bottom pot. Once the water has combined with the sugar, place it over medium heat to caramelize. It will take 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the pot. During this time, you shouldn’t touch or stir the caramel. If the sides begin to crystalize, it is an excellent trick to use a wet brush to gently toss that sugar to combine with the rest of the caramel.
- The color that you’ll be looking for is an amber caramel, neither too light brown nor dark. Be careful that it doesn’t burn. With this recipe, you’ll need to be next to the pot, just staring at it as it could burn easily if you’re distracted.
- Once you achieve this nice amber color, remove it from heat.
- Add the heavy cream and whisk to combine; some steam will be released due to the temperature shock, so using the cream at room temperature will minimize it. Then, add the butter and combine.
- Place the pot over the stove one more time, simmer until you see the caramel making some bubbles (1 to 2 minutes).
- Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and combine.
- Let the caramel chill before using.
- Fill each cookie with 1 tsp of the homemade caramel sauce.