Yes, yes I do love caramel and I do love sea salt!
It’s a delicious combination.
Kim was the first one to introduce me to this delightful surprise.
Every so often Kim, Elizabeth and I gather together to cook and share a meal.
On one particular occasion, Kim was in charge of bringing the dessert. She thought it’d be fun to do a candy tasting for dessert, so she stopped by Whole Foods and purchased four individual pieces of their amazing candies for us all to try (I totally recommend doing this, it was SO fun!).
One of her picks was a caramel with sea salt. It was incredible. We were all in unanimous agreement that it was by far the best.
So, when I discovered this recipe for salted caramel thumbprint cookies a little while later, I was sold. I just had to try it out.
Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
Recipe taken from A Cozy Kitchen
1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/8 t kosher salt
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 1/2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c heavy whipping cream
Cream together the butter and sugar until the are just combined and add vanilla. Sift together the flour and the salt, and on low-speed, add to the other ingredients. Mix until dough starts to come together. Place on a floured board and roll into a flat square. Wrap in plastic and chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Take out of the fridge and cut into 1/4 in squares and roll into balls. Place the balls on ungreased cookie sheet. Hold the cookie steady with one hand and press a light indentation with the other (You can use your knuckle to do this and you may have to mold them to look pretty). Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Let cool.
Combine sugar and 2 T of water in medium saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel. Heat up the cream in another saucepan until warm. Take caramel off heat and whisk in butter until totally combined. Then add heavy cream and whisk vigorously.
Spoon a teaspoon of the caramel into the cookie indentations and sprinkle with sea salt.
I came to discover that even though the recipe was simple, the execution of it was difficult.
The first challenge was creating the shortbread thumbprints.
The mixing was easy, but the forming into a little ball, placing a thumbprint in the middle and keeping it in the shape of a mini crater was not. As I tried to mold the balls, the dough kept crumbling and the sides kept splitting.
After quite some time and frustration, I finally had the little craters formed and I put the cookies in the oven to bake.
After about only 5 minutes though, the center of the cookies began to rise so much that the craters were disappearing, leaving no pocket for the caramel and sea salt to rest in. I decided to take the cookies out of the oven, press down on the dough in the center of the cookie and return them to the oven. It helped.
The caramel center also didn’t go according to plan.
Instead of being thick and solid, it came out soupy and runny. I don’t think I let the sugar and water mixture cook long enough on the stove top before adding the other ingredients.
I tried placing the cookies in the freezer to help the caramel set, but it didn’t really do the trick. They never hardened up.
Despite all of the shortcomings though, the cookies still tasted pretty darn good and people seemed to enjoy.
I submit this blog to you in humility. I do wish the cookies had turned out, but sometimes things in life just don’t go as planned. I guess I’ve learned something from this recipe. It’s disappointing, but it doesn’t have to keep me from offering and moving forward.
I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and still make for yourself a batch of these delicious sweet and salty treats. I caution you to remember — have patience, be creative and enjoy the process — these cookies are a lot of hard work!