Monday, December 13, 2010

Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
Tina Stevens
Makes 16 cookies


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Quick Caramels :

(My grandmothers recipe)

1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c karo syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c butter
1 pinch salt
1 dash vanilla

Cookie: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat square. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out the fridge and cut into 1 1/4-inch squares.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Hold the cookie steady with one hand and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Note: I actually poked a hole using my knuckle (from my index finger) since I have nails. I also kind of molded them a little just to make sure they were purdy. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re just a little golden brown on the sides. Let them cool. While they’re cooling, make the caramel.

Tina’s Tip: To form the dough I used a mini muffin pan and a wooden tart former that I have from Pampered Chef to push a hole in the middle of the dough.  I skipped the whole refrigeration part also . . . . just formed the dough into balls and dropped them in the muffin tin.

Caramel: Cook until firm ball, stirring constantly. Pour into a buttered pan.

Tina's Tip: I know I’m crazy but I’ve never owned a candy thermometer. I use the water test method. (follow the link if you aren't familiar with this) After about 5 minutes of the caramel coming to a boil I start testing. To keep the caramel from turning to sugar crystals, when you are stirring stay away from the bottom and the sides of the pan do not scrape the caramel from the sides of the pan when dumping it out. I made the caramel beforehand and needed to heat it up gently (power 3) in the microwave to spoon it in the cookies.

Back to the recipe!  By now your cookies should be cooled. Spoon a teaspoon of warm caramel into the indentations of your cookies and top with sea salt. You can eat right away (the caramel will be goopy and wonderful), or let sit for 2 hours so the caramel sets. Fancy and fantastic!

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