Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt

Dulce de Leche Thumbprints

Easy Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt… and Nutella!

I’m that girl. The one who can barely wait until after Thanksgiving dinner to crank UP the Christmas music. The one who pulls out the Christmas boxes the moment the Thanksgiving dishes are put away. The one who allows the kids to decorate the tree, then rearranges it after they’ve gone to bed. I can’t help myself.

As the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! How can anyone argue with such a classic song? It’s a season of hope and new life. A season of forgiveness and peace. A season of thinking beyond yourself!

Salted Caramel Thumbprints

In effort to share this brimming holiday joy, I make batches, and  BATCHES…and batches of cookies to share with our neighbors, friends, and family.  This year I hope to share them all with you as well! I always stick with a few tried-and-true recipes, then branch out and experiment a little!

These cookies are one of my favorites. You just can’t beat the delicate buttery texture of good shortbread cookies. In fact, I’m often tempted to think EVERY cookie should start as a shortbread cookie! Add caramel or chocolate-hazelnut, top them with sea salt…and you have something utterly addictive, a swear-worthy cookie!

Salted Caramel Cookies

Thumbprints are easy to make. Your kids will have a marvelous time rolling the balls and making the thumbprints. Yet make sure an adult adds the hot caramel and chocolate! You can find canned Dulce de Leche at large supermarkets (either in the international section or baking aisle) or at a Latin market.

To Make Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour a little at a time, until it is just combined.

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1 oz. balls—about 1 ½ tablespoons. Place them on the cookie sheets and make a deep indention in each cookie, with your thumb. Press any cracks back into place.


Bake for approximately 20 minutes. It will look like the craters have disappeared, but when the cookies cool, they’ll be back!

Scoop the Dulce de Leche into a quart-size freezer bag. Microwave it for 30-60 seconds until thin, like melted peanut butter. The bag may be hot, so wrap it in a small towel. Snip a hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze about 1 ½ tsp. of caramel into the centers of 24 cookies. Tap the cookies gently to help the caramel fill in the entire indention.

While the caramel is still a little tacky, sprinkle each cookie with course sea salt. Repeat this process with melted Nutella and the remaining 24 cookies.

Allow the Dulce de Leche and Nutella to cool for a little while before serving, so the centers can set.

*You could put them in the refrigerator to speed this up!

Nutella Thumbprints

Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Prep Time:30 minutes

Cook Time:20 minutes

5
5 / 5 (1 Reviews)
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Ingredients:

  • 4 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 lb.)
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 13 ounce can Nestle La Lechera, Dulce de Leche (caramel)
  • 1 small jar Nutella
  • Course sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour a little at a time, until it is just combined.
  2. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1 oz. balls—about 1 ½ tablespoons. Place them on the cookie sheets and make a deep indention in each cookie, with your thumb. Press any cracks back into place.
  3. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. It will look like the craters have disappeared, but when the cookies cool, they’ll be back!
  4. Scoop the Dulce de Leche into a quart-size freezer bag. Microwave it for 30-60 seconds until thin, like melted peanut butter. The bag may be hot, so wrap it in a small towel. Snip a hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze about 1 ½ tsp. of caramel into the centers of 24 cookies. Tap the cookies gently to help the caramel fill in the entire indention.
  5. While the caramel is still a little tacky, sprinkle each cookie with course sea salt. Repeat this process with melted Nutella and the remaining 24 cookies.
  6. Allow the Dulce de Leche and Nutella to cool for a little while before serving, so the centers can set.
*You could put them in the refrigerator to speed this up!
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52 comments on “Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt

  1. Tammieposted January 13, 2018 at 6:17 pm Reply

    These cookies were amazing!! Instead of using the Dulce De Leche I used my own homemade salted caramel sauce. I’d say they were a hit. My husband and I couldn’t stop eating them, even when they weren’t filled with the caramel, lol. My nephew by marriage said to me on his way out that he wouldn’t mind me making just him a batch. 😊 I did get a little worried as I was mixing towards the end because it felt like my brand new stand mixer was about to give out. It’s fine though. Since making the cookie dough I’ve made 3 Pavlova’s, a buttercream frosting and some homemade whipping cream for those Pavlova’s. I only did one thing different. I did have to add a few tsps of milk to the dough. On a sad note… I landed out burning two baking sheets of cookies because I placed two of them in at once. I was able to save a few of them but sadly at least 15 of them were what I would consider goners. My saving grace to that mishap was my hubby. He had no problem with eating the burnt ones, lol. I’m about to make these again but this time I now have a new stove that has two ovens so a burning repeat won’t happen again. 😁 Thanks so much for this recipe. These cookies tasted just like the ones you buy in a round tin during the holidays but even better. I LOVE those cookies. And adding the caramel to them just takes them to another level. Give them a try. Promise. You will not be dissapointed…. Happy Baking!!

    Rating: 5
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  6. Colleenposted December 2, 2016 at 1:22 pm Reply

    Hi – I am planning to make these tonight for a cookie party, but suddenly it occurs to me these are cookies without flour, baking powder or eggs? How do they rise?

    • Sommerposted December 6, 2016 at 8:41 am Reply

      Hi Colleen,

      There is flour listed in the recipe, but you are right about the baking powder and eggs. This is a strict “butter cookie” recipe so it doesn’t need them to achieve the desired texture. Happy Baking!! :)

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  9. Lillianposted December 13, 2015 at 5:11 pm Reply

    Would you keep these in the refrigerator or outside? I am going to give them away in a couple of days and want to make sure they stay fresh. Thanks

    • Sommerposted December 17, 2015 at 9:05 am Reply

      Hi Lillian! I would make them ahead, then fill them the day you plan to give them away. They can stay out at room temperature if they are wrapped well.

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  12. Missyposted February 28, 2015 at 3:17 pm Reply

    I was wondering if this can be cut in half without any flavor change. I know some recipes you can’t halve. I wanna try these as a replacement for the girl scout dulce de leche that they just discontinued and don’t think I need 4 dozen just for myself. Lol. Thanks.

    • Sommerposted March 5, 2015 at 7:58 am Reply

      Hi Missy, Yes! Cut away. ;)

  13. Sunnyposted December 22, 2014 at 10:33 pm Reply

    These are soooo good! I used Salted Caramel Nutella only but have gotten several compliments already! I added one T. of milk because they were a little dry and wouldn’t hold shape but that was the only change I made and they are sooooo yummy! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  14. Kiwicookiesposted December 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm Reply

    How far ahead before christmas can I make these? Also do you cool the cookies before filling them? Thanks!

    • Sommerposted December 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm Reply

      Hi there! It’s ok to make them 3-5 days before Christmas, and you can fill them while they are still warm. :)

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  19. Mariaposted December 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm Reply

    How far ahead can these be made? I’m attending a cookie exchange on dec. 17 and I wanted to make them on the 15th. Also, how long will they keep?

    • Sommerposted December 9, 2013 at 6:58 am Reply

      Hi Maria, That should be fine. :)

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  22. Kacey B.posted November 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm Reply

    I made these and after about 12 minutes i smelled something burning. it was my cookies :( oven was on 350 and i used it earlier without any hiccups. I’m upset because i never burn anything :( what did i do wrong?

    • Sommerposted November 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm Reply

      Bummer! Any chance you mis-measured the sugar? I did that once with this recipe and they went flat and burnt to a crisp. Just a thought… Hope you give them another go, this is one of my favorites!

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  24. Moposted December 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm Reply

    Sound super yummy…but just for clarification…recipe makes 48 cookies? 2 dozen with Nutella and 2 dozen with Dulce de Leche? You are not adding Nutella on top of Dulce de Leche-correct?

    • Sommerposted December 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm Reply

      Hi Mo, You got it!

  25. Kayposted December 9, 2012 at 11:33 pm Reply

    Am I correct in assuming you melt the caramel, sprinkle with salt, melt the Nutella and sprinkle more salt?

    • Sommerposted December 10, 2012 at 7:26 am Reply

      Yep! I fill 2 dozen cookies with Nutella and 2 dozen with Dulce de Leche. :)

  26. Kiwiposted December 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm Reply

    These look so good. I’m wondering if you have any experience with freezing them. I’d love to make them ahead of time for Christmas, but I’m wondering how well the caramel and salt would freeze.

    • Sommerposted December 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm Reply

      You know, I wouldn’t chance freezing the filling. What you could do, is make the cookie-bases early and freeze them. Then thaw and fill the centers the day you want to serve them.

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  29. Jen at The Three Little Pigletsposted November 9, 2011 at 8:23 am Reply

    I love a little sea salt on cookies – it tames the sweetness and makes them so much better!

  30. MIss @ Miss in the Kitchenposted November 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm Reply

    Love it! Dulce de Leche & Nutella oh my.

  31. Megan's Cookin'posted October 2, 2011 at 9:15 am Reply

    Now this taking thumbprint cookies up a level. These are on the Christmas rotation for this year!

  32. Michelle Gposted September 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm Reply

    These look outrageously good!! I’m a Nutella addict, so I really want to try these! No electric mixer though…

  33. Susan in the Booniesposted September 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm Reply

    You had me at Nutella.

  34. WhiteSockGirlposted September 21, 2011 at 6:39 am Reply

    Gorgeous. I will grab this recipe and bribe someone to make them for me. Yeah, I am not a good cook, to put it mildly!

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  36. [email protected]posted August 18, 2011 at 9:35 pm Reply

    Mmmm. This is not helping my close-to-midnight sweets craving one bit. :)

  37. marlaposted August 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm Reply

    As if these cookies weren’t all ready awesome. The sea salt puts ’em over. LOVE this!

  38. Angela FRSposted August 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm Reply

    Well that is pretty brilliant, I must say–really amps up the whole thumbprint idea…

  39. Joel Scrivnerposted January 31, 2011 at 9:09 am Reply

    Jen made these last night. Mmmmmmmm. Almost as good as when you made them at thanksgiving sis!

  40. Susanposted December 17, 2010 at 2:21 am Reply

    Oh my – these look so amazing.

    Susan You Go Girl! http://www.ugogrrl.com

  41. Gitteposted December 6, 2010 at 11:35 pm Reply

    Hey now…these look awesome. I think my son will go for these.

  42. The Mom Chefposted December 5, 2010 at 12:45 am Reply

    4 sticks of butter? FOUR? That's a stick per dozen. That's 3/4 of a tablespoon per cookie. Or something like that. Wow. These must be absolutely amazing. (They sure do look it.)

  43. Magic of Spiceposted December 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm Reply

    I love these…and love the flavor! Too funny with the Holidays, I'm good as long as the Christmas music comes the day after Thanksgiving. I hate that they try and squeeze them ;0
    These are delightful!