It’s December! And although I feel like I just put away the butter and sugar from last year’s 12 Days of Christmas Cookies, somehow it’s already time to lead you into another sugar coma.
For those of you who are new to the blog, every year, my pal Becca and I bake way too many cookies because this has simply become the tradition. Six years ago (how is this possible, Becca?), we decided to bake our way through Food Network’s 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. After having a pretty terrible time with their cookie choices (I’m looking at you, Alton Brown), we ditched them and decided to pick our own 12 cookie recipes. Sometimes we make up our own, and sometimes we just test out those recipes we’ve been itching to try all year. Or, in this year’s case (at least for me), we have one cookie recipe picked to try (that’s today’s cookie!), and we hope inspiration will come for the rest of the days (we get lazier every year).
So, make yourself a pot of coffee, or pour a giant glass of milk, and get ready for Sugar Blast 2k15!
I finally got around to reading through a stack of magazines on our Thanksgiving trip last week, and this recipe for Chocolate Thumbprints with Caramel and Sea Salt struck my fancy. Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone, and decided to add a little bourbon to the caramel sauce because that’s what I do. (For more bourbon recipes, check out my Kentucky Derby Pie Cookies, Whiskey Cinnamon Rolls, Dark Chocolate Salted Bourbon Brownies, Strawberry Parfaits with Bourbon Whipped Cream, Kentucky Mint Bourbonale, Brown Butter Bourbon Spice Cookies, and Whiskey Cinnamon Cookies.
You get to make your very own caramel sauce for this cookie (don’t worry: if I can do it, you can do it). And there will be way more bourbon caramel sauce than you need to fill the little thumbprints in these cookies, but I don’t think it will be too difficult to find a use for the rest of the stuff.
As for the sea salt, I’m always a huge fan of Jacobsen’s Sea Salt, which I used on half of these cookies. On the other half, I went wild with Jacobsen’s Stumptown Coffee Flake Salt (how much more Oregonian can you get, am I right?). I think I preferred the coffee salt over the original flavor, but to each his own.
Lastly, if presentation is key for your Christmas cookies (it’s never been a skill of mine), I recommend using something more rounded than your thumb to make the “thumbprint” in your cookies. If you use your thumb, the sides of your cookies will be slightly slanted, which allows the caramel to waterfall over the sides. Obviously, this is still delicious, but slightly less beautiful.
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- bourbon caramel sauce:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- flake salt for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat liner.
- Stir together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
- Roll dough into small balls and place 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets. Use your thumb or the rounded end of a thick wooden spoon to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
- Bake 10 minutes, just until cookies are set. Cool on a wire rack.
- To make the caramel, spread sugar evenly in a large nonstick skillet. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The sugar will form clumps, but will melt and turn into a dark amber liquid. As soon as it is liquefied, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the butter until completely incorporated.
- Continue to stir constantly, and drizzle in the cream. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and stir in the salt and bourbon. Let the caramel cool completely.*
- Once the caramel has cooled, spoon it into the thumbprints in each cookie and sprinkle with flake salt.
For more cookies from the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies archives, check out these links:
2014, Day 1: Chubby Hubby Cookies
2013, Day 1: Coffee Toffee Thumbprint Cookies
2012, Day 1: Salted Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies
2011, Day 1: Shortbread Cookies
2010, Day 1: Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies