Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

There's something about thumbprint cookies that just makes them better than your typical cookie. It could be the fact that they're more aesthetically-pleasing, however, thumbprint cookies are so desirable because they feature a bonus treat — the cookie itself, and then whatever that filling is in the middle. In the case of this chocolate salted caramel thumbprint cookies recipe, courtesy of developer Jessica Morone, that filling happens to be a homemade caramel sauce. Combined with a chocolate cookie base, these little treats are something to write home about. "These cookies are just so, so good," Morone corroborates. "The chocolate cookies are chewy, buttery, rich, and filled with an ooey gooey salted caramel."

If the thought of making cookies and filling from scratch has you feeling nervous, you can feel rest assured knowing that this recipe is pretty foolproof. Morone notes that the biggest potential for error comes with making the caramel, but with a bit of caution, you can get through that sticky step with ease. These gooey little confections are ideal for a bake sale, potluck, or office party, though they're also perfectly suited to be a small-scale family treat. As Morone says, "These are great anytime — you don't need to have a special occasion for making these."

Gather the ingredients for chocolate salted caramel thumbprint cookies

To make these chocolate salted caramel thumbprint cookies, you'll need some basic baking ingredients, including unsalted butter, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, salt, and heavy cream. And, to put the "salted" in salted caramel, you can also opt to sprinkle flaky sea salt onto the finished cookies. 

Make the chocolatey cookie dough

The first item to check off the to-do list is making the chocolate cookie batter. In a large bowl, cream 4 tablespoons of butter and ⅔ cup of sugar, until you have a nice and fluffy mixture. Next up, beat in the egg and vanilla extract. 

In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Then, gradually pour the dry mixture into the wet one, beating as you do so until everything is just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then pop the cookie dough into the fridge, allowing it to chill for 1 hour.

Shape, and bake the cookies

When the cookie dough is almost done chilling, get your oven preheating to 350 F. Either grease or line a couple of baking sheets, then grab your cookie dough, and shape it into 1-inch balls. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, then give them each that thumbprint shape in the middle. You can do this by either pressing your thumb into the center of the dough, or you can use the back of a wooden spoon. 

Pop the cookies into the oven to bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Once they're done baking, remove the cookies from the baking sheets, and place them onto wire racks to cool.

Make the caramel sauce

As the cookies are cooling, make the caramel sauce. Place a large, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, then add in the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Be sure to stir frequently, and over the course of 5 to 7 minutes, the sugar should melt down into a very dark liquid. Keep in mind that this is the one step in the recipe that could yield disastrous results, but Morone has some advice to get you through it. "You want to make sure that the heat isn't too high when you are cooking the sugar, or it could just end up burning — you want it to be closer to medium than high," she explains. "Just watch it to make sure that it doesn't cook too long, and burn before you add the butter."

Once the sugar has liquified, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, and reduce the heat to medium-low. If you add the butter as soon as the sugar has melted, Morone notes that it will help ensure that the sugar doesn't become a burnt, inedible mess. Then, stir in the heavy cream, and allow the mixture to come to a boil for 1 minute as you stir constantly. Remove the caramel from the heat, and stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, then pour it into a bowl, and let it cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Fill the thumbprints with caramel, and serve the cookies

Finally, simply spoon the caramel sauce into the center of each thumbprint cookie, and optionally sprinkle each with some flaky sea salt to really hone in on that salted caramel aspect. You'll want to give that caramel just a little bit of time to set, then voila, your cookies are ready to be served. "The chocolate of the cookie is really rich and deep, and the caramel is soft, sweet, and just salty enough to be really satisfying," Morone describes. "I love the chocolate and caramel combination." Indeed, it's a combination so good, you don't really need to pair these cookies with anything else — they're absolutely delicious on their own.

This recipe does yield 18 cookies, so you may have leftovers. "You will want to store these covered [in an even layer] on a plate (the caramel [makes] them hard to stack), and they will last about 3 days," Morone says. 

Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
Enjoy the iconic flavors of salted caramel and chocolate with this easy and delicious thumbprint cookie recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
thumbprint cookies on plate
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 ⅔ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Optional Ingredients
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
  1. In a large bowl, cream together 4 tablespoons of butter and ⅔ cup of sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
  3. Gradually, beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place them at least 2 inches apart on greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  5. Press an indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb, or the end of a wooden spoon handle. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, remove the cookies from the baking sheets, and place them onto wire racks to cool.
  6. Add the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar to a large nonstick frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. The sugar will eventually melt, and turn into a dark liquid, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Once the sugar has liquified, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, and mix until incorporated.
  8. Stir in the heavy cream. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove it from the heat, and stir in remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the caramel into a medium bowl, and let cool slightly for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Spoon the caramel into the center of each baked cookie. Then, sprinkle with the flaky sea salt, if desired. Let the caramel set, then serve.
Calories per Serving 178
Total Fat 9.3 g
Saturated Fat 5.8 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 34.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 23.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Total Sugars 18.8 g
Sodium 99.2 mg
Protein 1.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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