SMiLes by Meg

Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Guys, it’s Christmas cookie season. And, if you’ve been reading my blog anytime in the last six years, you know that every year, I dedicate one weekend to making an absurd amount of Christmas cookies, which I then put in boxes or tins and distribute to friends and family and coworkers.

This was not that weekend. But I did make some Christmas cookies anyway, because The NY Times Cookie Spread on instagram was way too perfect not to get an early start.

So these will go into the office, not in bags, and hopefully next weekend I’ll actually dedicate the entire weekend to baking. If anyone’s in Boston and wants to stop by, I always appreciate company!

Thumbprints, perhaps surprisingly, are a new cookie for me. Maybe it’s because I associate them with the traditional jam filling, and therefore think of them as fruit cookies, which is not a thing in my world.

Fortunately, these thumbprints have no fruit – just pecans and caramel, which are both perfect things to add to a buttery cookie dough.

Start by toasting the pecans. Cook at 350°F for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through to make sure they flip.

Next, start the dough. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed u speed until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Then, in a mini food processor, chop the pecans with 2 teaspoons of flour until finely ground.

Add 1/2 cup of the pecans, plus the remaining 2 1/4 cups of flour,, to the stand mixer and beat until dough comes together.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten in a disk, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

This is the part of the day where I went Christmas shopping, ate some lobster fries at a food truck, and watched the first half of the Patriots game at a friend’s house. When I came home for the second half, I finished baking.

To do that, roll the dough, by the rounded tablespoon, into balls, and press the top half of each in the remaining pecan mixture.

Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then bake at 3508F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and put a THUMBPRINT into the center of each cookie. (Thus the name.)

Return to the oven for an additional 8ish minutes until the sides of the cookies are golden. Allow to cool on the pan for about 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further.

While the cookies are still a little warm, spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into the center of each thumbprint.

I used Stonewall Kitchen Salted Caramel, because I was feeling indulgent and lazy at the same time.

Sprinkle a little flaky sea salt on top of each.

Let these cool completely, and then transfer to an airtight container to take them wherever you want to go. I’m yet to do this step, so I have no idea whether the caramel hardens enough to stack, so we’ll find out together on that one. That’s also why these probably won’t go in my cookie tins this year – I prefer cookies that play nice with others.

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces pecans
  • 2 1/4 cups flour, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup caramel
  • flaky sea salt

Directions:

  1. Toast the pecans on a baking sheet at 350°F for about 10 minutes, shaking the sheet halfway through.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat for an additional 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  4. In a small food processor, process the pecans with 2 teaspoons of flour until finely ground.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the pecan mixture, the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, and salt to the stand mixer and beat until dough comes together.
  6. Turn dough out on plastic wrap, form into a disk, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  7. Roll dough by the rounded tablespoon into balls. Press the top of each ball into the remaining nut mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 10 minutes.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie. Return to oven for an additional 8 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool further. While still a little warm, spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into the center of each cookie, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Cool completely.

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