Elisabeth, AllSpice’s blog and newsletter person (that is to say, me, myself and I) used to make jam thumbprint cookies, dipped in egg and rolled in chopped nuts, to give as holiday gifts each year. Since discovering this chocolate and caramel variation on the cookie, this has become our family’s favorite kind of thumbprint cookies.
Be prepared to make more than one batch. They are so good, you will not want to share…. and that would be contrary to the whole spirit of the season, right?
For the Cookies:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 Cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, white and yolk separated
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup flour
1/3 Cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Cup pecans, finely chopped
For the Caramel Thumbprint:
16 caramel squares, unwrapped
3 Tbsp whipping cream
Fleur de sel for sprinkling (optional)
For the Chocolate Drizzle:
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp Coconut Oil or other shortening
Make the cookie dough:
In a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until both ingredients are fully combined and fluffy. Separate the yolk and white of the egg, then add just the egg yolk, then the milk, and the vanilla extract.
(Reserve the egg white in a separate container, cover, and keep refrigerated until cookies are ready to bake.)
In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture gradually to the butter mixture, and beat after each addition just until each batch of dry ingredients is incorporated. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, shape the cookie dough into a big ball. Cover the mixing bowl of dough, and refrigerate for at least one hour (or as long as overnight), until the big ball of dough is chilled and firm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly beat the egg white you set aside earlier. Removing the cookie dough from the refrigerator, take spoon-sized scoops of dough. Shape each spoonful of dough into one-inch spheres. Dip each rounded dough-ball in the egg white, then roll in the chopped pecans, pressing lightly to coat the surface of the cookie. Transfer each cookie to the prepared baking sheet(s). Make a “thumbprint” in the center of each cookie dough sphere by pressing gently into the dough with your thumb.
Bake cookies for 12 to 13 minutes, or until dough is set. Allow cookies to cool, on the baking sheet on a cooling rack, until they are just barely still warm
Melt the caramel thumbprint filling:
While the cookies are baking, put the unwrapped caramels and whipping cream in a small but heavy saucepan set over low heat. Melt the caramels into the cream, stirring often to combine the two, until the caramels are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. (Try not to just eat the caramel cream at this stage. Patience, my pretties).
When the cookies have cooled to “just barely warm,” gently press down the center of each cookie again with your thumb and spoon 1/2 tsp of caramel filling into each thumbprint. Sprinkle the caramel with the tiniest bit of Fleur de sel, if you like. Now let the caramel-filled cookies cool completely.
Create the chocolate drizzle:
In a small heat-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and oil in the microwave for 1 minute. (If you don’t use the microwave, melt the chocolate chips and oil in a small-but-heavy saucepan, over the lowest heat possible on your stove). Stir until smooth.
Using a spatula, transfer the melted chocolate to a sandwich-size baggie. Clip one corner of the bag to make a small disposal pastry tube. Squeeze the baggie and pipe the melted chocolate over the cookies in a neat zig-zag drizzle pattern. Allow the drizzle to harden before serving and/or before transferring to an airtight storage container.
For maximum enjoyment, eat the cookies within 3 days.
For super-maximum-maximum enjoyment, brew a pot of strong coffee and eat immediately with someone you love.