You know how you feel when you see one of those chocolate lava cakes? Not only is there a rich, dark almost brownie-like chocolate cake, but it’s been broken open to allow the semi-liquid center of warm, rich chocolate sauce ooze out onto the plate. Just the thought of it makes you groan with pleasure, doesn’t it.
That’s how I feel when I see pictures like this. Look at that glistening caramel. You can easily imagine how it would be to dip a finger into it, wispy strings of golden goodness spinning and floating as you pull a a drop to your mouth for a sweet, glorious taste.
Caramel is my chocolate. My yin to your yang. Put it in front of me and I will inhale it. Show me a recipe with it in it and I will make it. Give me chocolates with caramel in them and I will forgive the chocolate for being there. Make me these cookies and I will eat them. All of them.
This could well be the first thumbprint cookie recipe I’ve found where the cookie can stand on its own without needing the props of whatever filling goes in the indentation. Consisting of a lot of butter, sugar, vanilla, flour and salt, you’re basically making shortbread. Wonderful, delicious shortbread.
The cookie dough is dipped in lightly beaten egg and then rolled in the flaked coconut and baked. The indentation receives special attention, for which I am very grateful. Too often when I’ve made thumbprint cookies in the past, the thumbprint fades as the cookie bakes and my filling oozes all over the place. Not so with this recipe. The indent is made; the cookies are baked halfway, then removed from the oven. The indent is re-pressed, then the cookies are baked the rest of the way. It works out perfectly, giving the caramel the perfect sized pool in which to collect.
Speaking of caramel, it’s a simple combination of caramel candies (I used Kraft) and some heavy cream heated until well combined. The caramel gets poured into the indentations after the cookies cool on a rack for a while. It’s all very simple.
These are delicious. The shortbread is flaky and tender and is complemented well by the caramel. The coconut works also. We enjoyed the cookies very much.
Oh, did I mention that Dudette came home from school, took a bite and then stuffed the rest of it in her mouth? Chipmunk cheeks are always a sign of high approval.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
It’s rare that I can show you what I’d do different, but since I ran out of coconut midway through making the cookies, I had to wing it and crushed up a bunch pecans, rolling the rest of the cookies in them. Eureka. We both actually preferred the pecan-rolled cookies more than the coconut ones.
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
44 small soft caramel candies (12 ounces), such as Kraft
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Large, flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat together butter and sugar with mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
With the mixer on low, add the flour a bit at a time, then the salt. Beat to combine.
Roll dough into 1 1/4-inch balls; dip each ball in the egg, then roll in the coconut. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets. Use your thumb to press an indentation in each.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and re-press indentations. Bake cookies until golden, an additional 9-10 minutes. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.
Place caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth, 4-6 minutes. Spoon the caramel into the indentations in the cookies, then sprinkle with sea salt.
Rewarm the caramel if it hardens before all the cookies are filled.
Subscribe to Martha Stewart Living Magazine.