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Last Updated on January 12, 2021 by Chenée Lewis
These thumbprint cookies feature one of the most underrated flavor combinations — caramel and cinnamon. Years ago I had a cinnamon caramel donut at the Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market here in Chicago, and I swear it changed my life. I realized that you don’t often see the combination of cinnamon and caramel, but it’s so good!! So these salted caramel thumbprint cookies are my attempt to spread the word about caramel and cinnamon! These are the perfect holiday cookie and an easy cookie to wow your guests!
If you’ve ever struggled to make caramel for candy or cake before, you’ll be pleased to know that no candy thermometers will be used in the production of this recipe. All you need for the filling is some store-bought baking caramels and heavy cream. And in minutes, you have a creamy, gooey salted caramel filling that makes these salted caramel thumbprint cookies amazing!
I used Kraft Baking Caramel Bits and they were so easy to use — no need to unwrap any individual candy wrappers, and they melted so quickly. Once the cookies are cooled, the caramel settles easily into the cookies. And then the salt brings out the flavors so well.
I originally planned to make these cinnamon caramel cookies during the Christmas season, but I’m glad I waited! I made these just in time for our New Year’s Eve party and they were such a hit! You have to give these a try — they’re incredibly easy to make, and they require NO chilling time. And the salted caramel filling is SO good.
These caramel thumbprint cookies are so delicious and beautiful, you’d never guess they were so easy to make! Here’s all you’ll need:
- butter – makes the sugar cookie base nice and soft.
- brown sugar – we’re trading white sugar for brown sugar to give the sugar cookie base a little more caramel flavor and moist texture.
- eggs – helps these cookies fluff up nicely and gives them some more richness.
- pure vanilla extract — be sure you use the good stuff!
- all-purpose flour – the base for the cookie dough. I like to measure
- baking soda – helps fluff up your cookies.
- ground cinnamon – plays so perfectly with the caramel for an amazing flavor combination.
- more cinnamon and granulated sugar to roll the cookies in!
For your easy salted caramel filling, you’ll need:
- Kraft baking caramels– our shortcut for a delicious caramel filling! You can find baking caramels at any supermarket, or substitute about 3/4 cup of any wrapped soft caramel candy you prefer.
- heavy whipping cream – for the caramel texture we want.
- flaky sea salt – for sprinkling on top of your cookies!
Once you have those ingredients together, it’ll be no time until your salted caramel thumbprint cookies are ready for the oven!
These salted caramel thumbprint cookies are super easy, but like with any cookie recipe, there are a few tools that make a huge difference! In this case, you’ll want a nice-sized baking sheet. I like the 3/4 baking sheet by Nordicware. I also recommend using a silicone baking mat like this one, but if you don’t have one of those, parchment paper is a must to ensure even nonstick baking.
This is just one of many delectable cookie recipes I’ve shared! If you like these salted caramel thumbprint cookies, you should definitely try my Pie Crust Cookie Twists, an incredibly easy cinnamon cookie made with pie dough! The recipe also includes two dipping sauces to make them even more irrestistible!
You might also like my Slice-and-Bake Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies, perfect holiday treats full of dark chocolate chunks and orange zest.
Equipment you may need
Prepare thumbprint cookies
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, add the 2 tsp. cinnamon to the granulated sugar and mix well. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until combined.
- Mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
- Roll dough into 1½-inch balls and roll in the reserved cinnamon sugar.
- Set cookie balls on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Using your thumb or the back end of a wooden spoon, press an indentation into the center of each cookie.
- Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks.
Prepare Caramel Filling
- Add caramels and 2 tbsp heavy cream to a saucepan over medium heat.
- Heat, stirring constantly, until caramel melts and combines completely with cream. Add another tablespoon of heavy cream if needed to achieve thinner consistency — keep in mind, the caramel wil solidify somewhat as it cools. The mixture is ready when it's smooth with no solid lumps.
- Pour about ½ tsp of the caramel filling into the thumbprint of each cookie. Sprinkle a little of the sea salt on top of each cookie.
- Place cookies in the refrigerator to chill and allow the caramel to set. Once chilled, sprinkle with additional sea salt, if desired.
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