There are times I want to spend 10 minutes mixing up a cake, then toss it in the oven and serve it later straight from the pan. And then there are times I like spending a couple hours in the kitchen, creating a special baked good that will wow people's eyes as much as their taste buds. This is one of the latter times.
The cookies aren't really very difficult – a simple sugar cookie dough, a coating of melted chocolate and a dollop of caramel – that's where things get tricky. Of course, if you really want a simple cookie, you can buy caramel sauce or dulce de leche in a store and use that. Regardless, once you've tackled making the caramel, it's all about the assembly.
One thing to keep in mind, is that if you don't keep the cookies on a flat surface, they might ooze their delicious filling. Alternatively you could eat them all immediately!
Chocolate caramel thumbprint cookies: Makes about 3 dozen cookies
1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks) plus two tablespoons, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Approximately 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter (or 3 tablespoons margarine)
1/2 cup whipping cream (or 1/4 cup soy milk
Sea salt, to finish
For the cookies, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until evenly combined.
On low speed, add in the flour gradually, mixing until totally combined.
Roll the dough in to medium sized balls – using a scant tablespoon of dough, and place on a baking sheet, spaced about an inch apart. Use your thumb or the bowl of a teaspoon measurement to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
Bake the cookies on 350F for 10 minutes, then remove and reinforce the indentation with the teaspoon measurement in each cookie.
Return to the oven and bake another 6-10 minutes until just lightly brown.
Right after you take the cookies out, drop a chocolate chip in to the center of each cookie. Wait 2-3 minutes, then gently spread the melted chocolate around the cavity of the cookie, going just slightly over the sides. If your kitchen is warm, stick in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably not non-stick, heat the cup of sugar over medium-low heat.
Stir it lightly and gently as it starts to brown and liquefy (David Lebovitz gives much better instructions than I do). Continue cooking until all the sugar has melted and it is turning a beautiful dark brown – but don't let it burn! Add in the butter and cream – it will bubble up like crazy so don't use a small skillet – and mix to combine to a thick, creamy sauce.
Spoon about a teaspoon of the mixture in to the center of each cookie, and stick them in the fridge to set before the caramel remelts all your chocolate.
Sprinkle each cookie with a touch of sea salt before serving, if desired.