Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

A year ago today, I started this food blog. I was a junior in high school who had just finished the AP United States History test and was just beginning to think about the college application process. Now, I’m a high school senior who has just finished the AP Economics test and can’t wait to start college in the fall. Over the course of the past year, I’ve posted 132 times, had a blast cooking and sharing food with my friends and family, and started to work as a cook in a restaurant.

A year ago, I posted the recipe to one of my favorite cookies: Meyer Lemon Lavender Cookies. One year later, here’s the recipe for another one of my favorite cookie recipes: buttery thumbprint cookies filled with homemade salted caramel sauce. (Although let’s be honest, nearly all cookies make my favorites list, barring any that contain raisins.) Anyone who has ever tried salted caramel sauce knows that it’s one of the best desserts out there, and when you pair it with a cookie, how could you go wrong?

Thank you to all of you that read my blog, make my recipes, or try my food, whether you’re my grandmother that reads every post, my amazing friends at school that try my recipes and eat my cookies every week, or my brother that so unselfishly licks the cookie dough from the finished mixer bowl in the name of “quality control.” I feel so lucky to have so many people in my life that share my love of food and cooking. Here’s to many more years of cooking and baking!

Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 64 cookies

Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 ½ teaspoons kosher or sea salt


16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon table salt

¾ teaspoon baking powder

  1. For the Caramel Sauce: In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and stir with a rubber spatula until all the sugar is moistened. Put the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan occasionally until the sugar reaches a very deep amber color, 10-15 minutes. If you would like to use a candy thermometer, the sugar should be at about 350F. Take the caramel off heat and stir in the butter until melted, then pour in the cream. The mixture will bubble up, but will subside quickly. Return to low heat and stir until everything is combined and the butter and cream are at one with the caramel. Take off heat again and add the salt. Pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside while you bake the cookies.
  2. For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well combined. The mixture may look slightly curdled, but don’t worry—it will turn out in the end. Scrape down the sides of the mixer again, then add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix on low speed until just combined.
  4. To shape the cookies. Roll 1 tablespoon sized amounts of the dough into balls and place 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using your thumb, knuckle, wooden dowel, or clean wine cork, gently press and indentation in the center of the ball of dough that the caramel will fill after baking. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are set and just beginning to turn golden brown. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.
  5. To fill the cookies: Once the cookies have cooled slightly, fill the indentations with the salted caramel sauce. It is easiest to do this is you transfer the caramel to a container with a controlled pouring spout, such as a gravy boat or syrup container. Take care not to overflow the centers of the cookies. Serve within a few hours of assembly for best results.

Note: You will almost certainly have some caramel sauce left over. If that is the case, then you hit the jackpot. Store the extra sauce in a sealed container in the fridge for a few weeks and use it on ice cream, fruit, cake, or cookies.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!


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