Turtle Thumbprint Cookies - Chocolate and Pecan Cookies Filled with Homemade Salted Caramel
Today I'm thrilled to post my recipe for turtle thumbprint cookies made with homemade salted caramel for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. These thumbprint cookies go above and beyond the usual. They're rich, chocolate cookies rolled in roasted pecans, filled with homemade salted caramel, and drizzled with dark chocolate.
This salty-sweet combo of chocolate, salted caramel, and crunchy roasted nuts was inspired by my turtle cupcakes. I wanted to send my fellow-cookie swappers something delicious, substantial, and satisfying. I think these cookies fit the bill, and I hope the recipients though so too!
I was so pleased to be part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I can't believe that the swap raised $13,778.40 for Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to helping fight pediatric cancer. What an amazing job done by the organizers, Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. Plus, OXO, one of the corporate sponsors, sent every participant an amazing set of silicone spatulas. I'm so excited to use them!
Here are my packages before I sent them off to my cookie swap recipients. I knew what I wanted the packages to look like, so rather than obsessively search for what I wanted, I though I'd just make the containers and stickers myself. They turned out pretty darn close to what I wanted. I hope the cookie recipients enjoyed receiving these as much as I enjoyed making and sending the package along to them!
The cookie swap is so organized that they accommodate for dietary restrictions, and since I don't eat bovine derived products, I was placed in the vegetarian group. To be extra careful and considerate, all participants in the swap with dietary restrictions were asked to include a list of ingredients in each box of cookies. If any of my cookie swap recipients are reading this post, they'll notice that some of my ingredients listed in the recipe below differ from the ones I sent them. And that's right! Given my obsessive nature to get a recipe exactly the way I want it, I did indeed tinker with it after sending the cookies off in the mail. The cookies photographed in this post reflect the cookies I made with the recipe below.
If you're a blogger, and you're interested in signing up for next year's swap, you can do so here. I'm already looking forward to next year's swap!
Turtle Thumbprint Cookies filled with Homemade Salted Caramel
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Ingredients for the Cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tbs whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg white lightly beaten
1/2 cup roasted and chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
Ingredients for the Homemade Salted Caramel
Adapted from Doughmesstic.com
7 tbs unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 plus 1/8 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 plus 1/8 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions for the Cookies
Roast the pecans by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until they are fragrant. Remove the nuts from the oven, and allow them to cool to room temperature.
For the cookies, sift the all purpose flour, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars. Once the butter and sugar is creamed until light and fluffy, add the egg yolk, vanilla, and milk. Mix until just combined.
Add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low. Mix until just combined.
Form the dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
While the dough is chilling, finely chop the pecans. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg white.
Once the dough is chilled, roll scant tablespoons of the dough into balls. Dip the balls into the egg white. Then roll in the chopped nuts. Place the balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Once all the balls are rolled and placed on the cookie sheet, use the back of a wooden spoon to make a round indentation in the middle of each cookie. (This will be where the cookies will be filled with the homemade salted caramel).
Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes. They will still be a bit soft when they are done baking. Do not over bake the cookies!
Once the cookies are removed from the oven, use the back of a wooden spoon to immediately press the centers of the cookies again. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Directions for the Salted Caramel Filling
Place all the ingredients except for the extract into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Place on medium heat, and allow the butter to melt and sugar to dissolve. Once the mixture starts to boil, using a candy thermometer, boil until it reaches the softball stage (about 240 degrees F).
Once the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, remove the pot from the heat. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.
Directions for Assembling the Cookies
Using a teaspoon, fill each of the cooled cookie with the salted caramel. Allow the caramel to firm up before proceeding.
Once the caramel is nice and firm (it will not completely harden), melt the chopped chocolate. Drizzle over the cooled cookies. Allow the chocolate to cool before serving.
Depending on the size of each cookie, this recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies
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