Turtle Thumbprint Cookies
I hope everyone had a happy holiday season! Tony and I drove a quick 34-hour trip from Chicago to California to enjoy the holidays with my family… And by “Tony and I,” I mean Tony drove the entire way to California, except for one time I moved the car from the gas pump to a nearby parking spot. What can I say, I’m a nervous driver!
Spending time at home with my family and friends was absolutely fantastic and the warm 70 degree weather didn’t hurt a bit! I even managed to escape the Polar Vortex of -38 degrees going on in Chicago and went surfing in Santa Cruz that day… ‘Tis the life.
Although I will be the first to admit that I was a terrible guest when I went home and only baked one dessert in the span of three weeks… But the dessert was such a hit among my family that my sisters recreated it two more times during my visit, so I basically contributed to three desserts overall.
In my most recent post, I discussed my family’s standard holiday cookie menu and how it RARELY changes. Well friends, I spoke too soon, because these cookies are now on the top of that list. Okay, well maybe second… I can’t break my affinity with Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies, which reminds me… I have a bag of holiday kisses sitting in my pantry. But these cookies are delightful. They take your traditional turtle flavors and create something magical, perhaps it’s the sea salt. Whatever makes them so special, take the time to assemble them and drizzle the chocolate at the end because each step is worth it. I will definitely see these on my cookie menu next year!
Turtle Thumbprint Cookies by Handle the Heat:
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, separated
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
16 unwrapped caramel squares
3 tablespoons whipping cream
Fleur de sel, or other flaked sea salt, for sprinkling, optional
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
- To make the cookies, in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until well combined and fluffy. Add in the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract. Reserve the egg white in a separate container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, or until the dough is chilled and firm.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Lightly beat the reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Dip each ball in the egg white, then roll in the pecans, pressing lightly to coat well. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down the center of each ball with your thumb.
- Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until set. Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let cool until just warm.
- To make the caramel, combine the caramel squares and cream in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.
- When the cookies are warm, press down the center of each cookie again with your thumb or the opposite end of a wooden spatula. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into each thumbprint. Sprinkle the caramel with Fleur de sel to taste. Let cool completely.
- To make the chocolate drizzle, heat the chocolate chips and oil in a small heat-proof bowl the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Remove the chocolate to a small zip-top baggie and cut a small hole in one corner. Pipe the chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate set before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.