2.09.2012

Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints

I swear I spend most of my day in my head, thinking about things that are not at all important to what I’m currently doing. Given even the smallest opportunity, my mind wanders off down its own little path, meandering through its own little world. If I had to guess, I would say that world inside my head probably looks a lot like the board game Candyland, since a lot of what I think about is baking related. Lollipop trees and chocolate rivers. M&M paved roads and marshmallow Peep animals. Not a terrible place to hang out, if I do say so. Somewhere along one of those random paths, I found these cookies.


I was flipping through a magazine when this idea hit. I don’t even remember what brought it on. All I know is that suddenly I had this glimpse of a chocolate thumbprint with a salted caramel filling and knew I had to make it. I’m a sucker for anything salted caramel.

I made my own caramel for these. It turned out mostly successful—it was good, just not amazingly great. I think I cooked it just a touch too long at first, because I’m never quite sure what the perfect amount of color is. And I had a slight mishap with my candy thermometer before I started.. I dropped and shattered my good candy thermometer, so I was left with the older one that was loose—the part that actually measured the temperature slid up and down in its bracket… So I had a good 60 degree range to guess from. Not really an accurate reading. But I put it in a pot of boiling water and lined it up to the 212F line and taped it down, so I think I was pretty close to being right! This is why I can’t have nice things…


Bake the cookies first, and let them cool completely. Then work on the caramel. You don’t want to get distracted. Sugar goes from caramel to burnt very quickly. And liquid caramel = MOLTEN HOT SCARINESS. So have everything ready to go before you start. If the thought of boiling sugar scares the bejeezus out of you, just melt down some store bought caramel squares and add a tablespoon or 2 of heavy cream to keep it soft when it cools. Let the caramel cool slightly before filling the thumbprints, then give it about 5 minutes before you sprinkle on the sea salt, otherwise it’ll just sink into the caramel. Then let the caramel cool completely for a smooth pretty look. I was too impatient to let mine cool before taking pictures, which is why my caramel looks slightly puckered. But it still tastes pretty good!


PS- These are the very first pictures from my brand new camera! (Well, not totally true. The first pictures were of the cat.) I’m finally a DSLR owner! Check that off my 30 before 30 list!



Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies and David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 ½ dozen (The original recipe says 3 dozen. They must be TINY because I only got 18)



Cookies:
¾ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel:
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature, cubed*

*Note: If you only have unsalted butter, add another pinch of salt to the heavy cream mixture.

1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
3. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. (Or, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.) Let cool slightly.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk, vanilla extract, and chocolate, and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
5. Place about ¼ of a cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon, roll dough into 1-inch balls, and then roll in sugar to coat. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Chill dough in refrigerator on baking sheets for about 20 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove chilled dough from the fridge and press your thumb into the center to make indentations. (I used my ½ tablespoon measuring spoon instead.) Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and press centers down again. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. (If centers have puffed up again, press down one more time.)
7. Make caramel: In a small saucepan, heat the cream with 1 tablespoon of butter, vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt until mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
8. In a heavy saucepan with tall sides, fitted with a candy thermometer, heat corn syrup and sugar, stirring gently until sugar melts. Once sugar is melted, try not to stir. Simply swirl the pan gently every now and then to ensure even heating.
9. Cook until syrup reaches 310F and has turned the color of an older penny. Remove from the heat and pour the cream mixture in slowly. The mixture will boil up quickly, so be careful. Stir until smooth. Place back over the heat and cook until the mixture reaches 248F.
10. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, mixing until it is melted and smooth. Let cool for about 5 to 10 minutes before filling cookies.
11. Using a spoon, pour caramel into indentations. Allow to set for about 5 minutes before sprinkling with sea salt. Let cool completely.
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7 comments:

Erin - Mrs Monkei said...

I think I've just figured out what I'm baking this weekend! Thank you :)

Rayna Lynn said...

Congrats on your camera. Im still hoping for a dslr.
These cookies look amazing!

Union Street Eats said...

YES! this is my favorite combo ever - cant believe I hadnt thought of this before! Thanks!

Aimee @ Chickenville said...

My mind does the same wondering thing. I wonder if sometimes I'm a little food obesessed! I actually just made a Candy Land birthday cake (see my blog for photos) so I literally had Candy Land in my head.

I am going to make these cookies for Valentine's changing the cookie to my favorite molasses one. I've never made caramel before, but it seems salted caramel is all the rage, so I'm ready to dive in.

Your photos are beautiful. Having a great camera makes a big difference (well for me, I haven't looked through your photos - they are probably all beautiful). What lense did you get?

Aimee @ Chickenville said...

My mind does the same wondering thing. I wonder if sometimes I'm a little food obesessed! I actually just made a Candy Land birthday cake (see my blog for photos) so I literally had Candy Land in my head.

I am going to make these cookies for Valentine's changing the cookie to my favorite molasses one. I've never made caramel before, but it seems salted caramel is all the rage, so I'm ready to dive in.

Your photos are beautiful. Having a great camera makes a big difference (well for me, I haven't looked through your photos - they are probably all beautiful). What lense did you get?

Kiesha said...

Pics look great!

Rachel @ Baked by Rachel said...

I can't be trusted with caramel in the house. It NEVER makes it into recipes when I planned it too. These look perfect!

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