Thumbprint Cookie Recipe with Caramel
Dulce de Leche Cookies – This easy thumbprint cookie recipe includes creamy caramel and/or Nutella, with a sprinkle of sea salt for the perfect sweet and salty treat. You’ll love making these cookies for the holidays!
Dulce de Leche Cookies
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!
Thumbprint Cookie Recipe
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!
This Thumbprint Cookie Recipe with Caramel is one of my favorites.
You just can’t beat the delicate buttery texture of good shortbread cookies. I’m often tempted to think EVERY cookie should start as a shortbread cookie! Make a batch with caramel or even a batch with chocolate-hazelnut Nutella, top them all with sea salt…and you have something utterly addictive, a swear-worthy cookie!
Ingredients for Dulce de Leche Cookies
- Unsalted butter – at room temperature
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche – thick caramel (or swap with Nutella for Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies)
- Sea salt
You can find canned Dulce de Leche at most large supermarkets (either in the international section or baking aisle) or at a Latin market.
How to Make: Thumbprint Cookies Recipe with Caramel
Thumbprint cookies are easy to make. Your kids will have a marvelous time rolling the balls and making the thumbprints themselves. Yet make sure an adult adds the hot caramel and chocolate!
Here’s how you make these perfectly sweet and salty cookies…
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. Don’t over-mix the cookie dough!
2. Line 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. This is typically where the kids have the most fun!
Give each cookie a bit of space on the baking sheets, and be sure to press any cracks that might form from your thumbprint back into place.
This thumbprint cookie recipe yields 48 cookies. I can fit 12 cookies per baking sheet, so I tend to do one set of 24 cookies at a time across two different baking sheets. Just keep the remaining dough in the mixer until you’re ready to use for the next batch.
See the Full Printable Thumbprint Cookie Recipe (Dulce de Leche Cookies) Below!
3. Bake the thumbprint cookies for approximately 20 minutes, until soft but no longer doughy. You don’t want these cookies to brown.
It will look like the thumbprint craters have disappeared, but when the cookies cool, they will be back!
4. While the cookies are cooling slightly on the baking sheets, scoop the Dulce de Leche into a quart-size freezer bag or a piping bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag, and seal closed. Microwave the bag for 30-60 seconds until thin, almost 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 center of each cookie, until they are just barely filled. Tap the caramel thumbprint cookies gently to help fill in the entire indention.
5. While the caramel is still a little bit tacky, lightly sprinkle each cookie with some of the course sea salt. You want to add just a nice little salty crunch to balance the sweetness of the caramel, but not so much that the salt overwhelms the cookies.
Pro Tip: Repeat this piping and salting process with the melted Nutella instead of Lechera, or fill half of the Thumbprint Cookie recipe with caramel and half with chocolate.
Allow the caramel thumbprint cookies and/or Nutella thumbprint cookies to cool for a little while before serving, so the centers can set. You could put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to speed this up!
Can These Caramel Thumbprint Cookies Be Made in Advance?
Oh yes! Thumbprint cookies with Dulce de Leche and/or Nutella fillings can be made a few days ahead of enjoying, and will keep well in an airtight container at room temp for 4-5 days.
Are Dulce De Leche Cookies Freezer-Friendly?
Absolutely. Both the caramel and Nutella thumbprint cookies will freeze well for up to 3 months if properly stored. You’ll want to first cool the cookies completely, and then keep them in an airtight container in a single layer so that the fillings don’t get disturbed.
Looking for More Cookie Recipes for the Holidays?
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies
- Snickerdoodle Cookie Whoopie Pies
- Mexican Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
- Pistachio Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 3D Christmas Trees Cookies
Thumbprint Cookie Recipe with Caramel
- 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-ounce balls—about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Place them on the cookie sheets and make a deep indentation 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 1/2 teaspoons 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 the remaining caramel OR with melted Nutella and fill the remaining 24 cookies.
- Allow the Dulce de Leche and/or Nutella to cool for a little while before serving, so the centers can set.