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caramel and chocolate cookies
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5 from 2 votes

Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Salted caramel cookies are the ultimate easy and gooey dessert recipe. Not only do these chocolate thumbprint cookies look super elegant, but they also taste delicious! Whether you're baking these up for the holiday or just a weekend treat, you're not going to be able to stop at just one cookie. The soft, thumbprint cookie provides a great vessel for the sweet and salty caramel sauce. Sprinkle coarse finishing salt on top for an extra beautiful garnish.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time14 mins
Resting3 hrs 20 mins
Total Time4 hrs 14 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16 cookies
Calories: 335kcal
Author: Jessica Mode


For the Cookies

For the caramel

  • 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar large impurities removed
  • ½ cup (114 grams) heavy whipping cream
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
  • coarse sea salt for garnish


For the cookies

  • Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Add butter, brown sugar, and ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar to a large bowl (or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment). Beat together on medium speed for 2 minutes using a handheld electric or stand mixer. Add in egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until fully combined.
  • Scrape down the side of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches. Mix on medium-low speed until fully incorporated. The dough will be slightly sticky. Wrap cookie dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight until the dough has firmed up.
  • Meanwhile, pour 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar on a plate and set aside.
  • Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Remove dough from the refrigerator and form into 2 tablespoon balls. Roll the outside of the dough balls in the granulated sugar. Place dough 1-2 inches (2.5 - 5 centimeters) on a large baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Using your thumb or end of a spatula, make an indent in each cookie. If the dough begins to crack on the outside, simply use your hands to push back together.
  • Bake on the middle rack for 12-14 minutes, or until cookie edges are set. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. If any of the indents have puffed up, use a small spoon to make push the indent down. Transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.

For the caramel

  • In a medium heavy bottom saucepan, add sugar and ¼ cup (56 grams) of water. Cover with a lid and let boil over medium heat until sugar is completely melted about 2-4 minutes.
  • Remove lid, and continue cooking until sugar begins to darken. Do NOT stir the caramel at this point. If it appears to be burning, you can gently swirl it in the pan. Once the sugar reaches an amber-colored liquid, about 4-6 minutes later, remove from heat.
  • Stir in cream (be careful, the cream will bubble and slightly splatter). Once cream is incorporated, add in butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir until caramel is smooth. Allow caramel to cool slightly to room temperature.
  • Using a spoon, gently fill each thumbprint hole with caramel, about 1-2 teaspoons each. If desired, sprinkle the top of the caramel with a pinch of coarse sea salt. Place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to allow the caramel to firm up.
  • Store cookies in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Make ahead: Make cookie dough ahead of time. Shape the dough into balls and freeze (unfilled) for up to 3 months.
Extra caramel? Store leftover caramel in the fridge to use as a topping or filling for another dessert. Caramel will last for 2 weeks.
Freezer storage: Store completed baked and filled cookies in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place in an airtight container in between parchment paper.


Calories: 335kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 104mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 479IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 2mg