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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints 1

DAY 12: Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Four of my five children voted this cookie as their favorite all-time Christmas cookie.

I like to make these cookies with a homemade caramel filling. With a candy thermometer, the caramel filling comes together quickly and turns a good cookie into a fabulous one!

You can also make the filling with melted packaged caramels. If you want to take the “easy” route and buy a bag of Kraft Caramels, that recipe can be found HERE.

Here is my tip for getting a good deep pocket for all of that amazing caramel: Use the back of a rounded measuring spoon and press it into the center of each cookie. I use a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon on the raw cookie dough before baking:

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints 2

Then I use  a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon on the hot, baked cookie. (The cookies do spread a little when they are baked, leaving a larger opening). This is a good alternative to actually using (and burning) your thumbs.

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints 3

ORIGINAL BLOG POSTS:

      (2017): Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies with Homemade Caramel Filling

     (2009): Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies with Filling made from Packaged Caramels

RECIPE:

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints 1

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/4  cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Homemade Caramel Filling (recipe below)

Glaze:
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs corn syrup

Prepare Cookies: Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, milk and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt. Beat until well combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place egg whites in a small bowl. Place finely chopped pecans in a bowl. Set aside. Roll dough into balls. Dip balls into egg white and then into pecans. (I find this easier if I make a whole baking sheet worth of dough balls, then dip them in egg/pecans). Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Make a small indentation in the center of each cookie with the back of measuring spoon (I use a ½ teaspoon) or your thumb.

Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes, or until cookies are set.

While cookies are still hot, press center again (use the back of a round 1 teaspoon measuring spoon). Cool.

Prepare Caramel Filling (recipe below).
Spoon small amount of warm caramel into centers of baked cookies. Carefully remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Prepare Chocolate Glaze: Combine bittersweet chips, butter and corn syrup in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for another 20-30 seconds if not melted. Let cool slightly. Pour chocolate into a small Ziploc freezer bag. Poke a hole in the corner of the bag (a bamboo skewer makes a perfect sized hole). Drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies. Cool until set.

To store: refrigerate or freeze cookies in individual layers; then store between layers of waxed paper in the refrigerator or freezer. They can also be stored at room temperature, but if you stack them, they will stick together.


Homemade Caramel Filling

1 cup unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbs heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt

Combine butter, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, corn syrup and heavy cream in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium low, maintaining a low but continuous simmer, until caramel reaches 235°F (soft ball stage), stirring occasionally. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

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DAY 1: Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

Happy December and the first day of No Empty Chairs’ Tenth Annual “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies”. This year, I am reaching back into the blog-files to share twelve of our family’s very favorite Christmas cookies.

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First up is a shortbread style cookie studded with candied cherries and pecans. This is a great make-ahead dough that you can pull out and slice anytime. Bake just a few at a time, or a whole batch.

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Roll the dough into a log and it can be stored in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to bake.

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Use a sharp knife to slice dough into rounds that are about 3/8” thick.

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ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2011): Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

Christmas is a wonderful season to both spend time with family and loved ones and to reach out beyond our normal sphere of influence. See below for ideas on how you can light the world in all areas of your life.

#LightTheWorld

Light the World 2018

 

RECIPE:

Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

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1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup pecan halves
2 cups red and green candied cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Cream butter and powdered sugar; blend in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour and then add pecans and cherries. Chill dough for 1-2 hours. Shape into 2  logs with about 2” diameter. Roll in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into slices about 3/8” thick and bake for 13-15 minutes. Do not let cookies brown.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

DAY 6: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

These cookies were some of my favorites growing up. They are a chewy cookie with lots of nuts and a slight tang from the cream cheese.

They are also egg-free if you are baking for people with allergies.

Thanks Mom!

RECIPE:

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and beat well. Stir in nuts.

Shape dough  into 1” balls. Place on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire rack.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Thumbprints with Homemade Caramel Filling

Chocolate Thumbprints

DAY 5: Chocolate Thumbprints with Homemade Caramel Filling

If you are feeling extra ambitious, instead of making these chocolate thumbprint cookies with melted packaged caramels, you can make your own caramel filling.

With a candy thermometer, the caramel filling comes together quickly and turns a good cookie into a fabulous one!

If you want to take the “easy” road out and buy a bag of Kraft Caramels, that recipe can be found HERE.

Here is my tip for getting a good deep pocket for all of that amazing caramel: Use the back of a rounded measuring spoon and press it into the center of each cookie. I use a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon on the raw cookie dough and then a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon on the hot, baked cookie. This is a good alternative to actually using (and burning) your thumbs.

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RECIPE:

Chocolate Thumbprints with Homemade Caramel Filling

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Chocolate Thumbprints

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Homemade Caramel Filling (recipe below)

Glaze:
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs corn syrup

Prepare Cookies: Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, milk and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt. Beat until well combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place egg whites in a small bowl. Place finely chopped pecans in a bowl. Set aside. Roll dough into balls. Dip balls into egg white and then into pecans. (I find this easier if I make a whole baking sheet worth of dough balls, then dip them in egg/pecans). Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Make a small indentation in the center of each cookie with the back of measuring spoon (I use a ½ teaspoon) or your thumb.

Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes, or until cookies are set.

While cookies are still hot, press center again (use the back of a round 1 teaspoon measuring spoon). Cool.

Prepare Caramel Filling (recipe below).
Spoon small amount of warm caramel into centers of baked cookies. Carefully remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Prepare Chocolate Glaze: Combine bittersweet chips, butter and corn syrup in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for another 20-30 seconds if not melted. Let cool slightly. Pour chocolate into a small Ziploc freezer bag. Poke a hole in the corner of the bag (a bamboo skewer makes a perfect sized hole). Drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies. Cool until set.

To store: refrigerate or freeze cookies in individual layers; then store between layers of waxed paper in the refrigerator or freezer. They can also be stored at room temperature, but if you stack them, they will stick together.


Homemade Caramel Filling

1 cup unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbs heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt

Combine butter, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, corn syrup and heavy cream in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium low, maintaining a low but continuous simmer, until caramel reaches 235°F (soft ball stage), stirring occasionally. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and other stuff): Roasted Spiced Pecans

Roasted Spiced Pecans

DAY 4: Roasted Spiced Pecans

These slightly spicy nuts are my family’s very favorite snack. I make them all year round, at least once or twice a month.

And since this is a savory treat, not a sweet one, you can feel good about dipping into these all through the holidays!

RECIPE:

Roasted Spiced Pecans

Yield: 6 cups

Roasted Spiced Pecans

6 cups (24oz bag) pecan halves
5 Tbs butter
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Sriracha sauce (adjust to taste)
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
¾ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground mustard

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Place pecan halves in a large mixing bowl. Melt butter in a glass measuring cup or small bowl. Stir in remaining seasonings and mix well. Pour butter mixture over pecans and stir until pecans are well coated.

Spread pecans in an even layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; stir and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes. Allow pecans to cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally as they cool. Store in an airtight container.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Butter Pecan Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Butter Pecan Spiced Cookies

DAY 6: Butter Pecan Pumpkin Spice Cookies

These cookies look similar to Pecan Sandies, but are soft and chewy and have warm fall spices baked into the cookies. They do not actually contain pumpkin, just “pumpkin spice”. This recipe comes from Averie Cooks.

If I am totally honest, I prefer the plain Pecan Sandies and their crumbly shortbread texture, but some of my family prefers this version.

RECIPE:

Butter Pecan Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Butter Pecan Spiced Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 Tbs cream or milk
2 cups flour
1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups chopped raw pecans
About ½ cup pecans halves

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat until well mixed. Mix in the cream.

Stir together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add to mixing bowl and beat on low speed until just combined. Mix in chopped pecans.

Use a medium cookie scoop or tablespoons to drop rounded dough balls onto baking sheets. If desired, press a pecan half into the top of each dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough balls for at least 1 hour before baking.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake cookies for about 8 minutes, until edges just begin to set; don’t overbake. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies.

(Recipe from Averie Cooks)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and other treats): Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

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DAY 3: Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

A simple recipe that makes great neighbor gifts. Fill a mason jar or clear treat bag and add a Christmas message for an easy gift that everyone loves!

RECIPE:

Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

Cinnamon Pecans 2

1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups raw pecan halves
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs cinnamon
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk egg white and vanilla in a large bowl until slightly frothy. Add pecans and stir until nuts are well coated.

Combine sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl until well mixed. Gradually stir into mixing bowl with the nuts, stirring constantly until pecans are coated evenly.

Spread onto lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula and return to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove parchment paper (with the nuts still on it) and place onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Yield: 3 cups

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7th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies

DAY 1: December is here, so it’s time for another Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies! Twelve days of ideas for your Christmas Cookie Plates.

Pecan Sandies are a traditional crispy/crumbly shortbread type cookie. I am usually a soft cookie kind of girl, but I really like these not-too-sweet, melt in your mouth cookies.

RECIPE:

Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies

½ cup butter
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp salt
½tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp baking soda
scant 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans
Whole pecans (about 72)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, oil, and sugars. Beat with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda and nutmeg and mix just until combined. Stir in chopped pecans. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Use a SMALL cookie scoop to make rounded balls (about 2 tsp dough). Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press 1 whole pecan into the top of each dough ball. Bake for 8-9 minutes.

Makes about 5 dozen small cookies.

 

For lots more cookie and candy ideas, there are links below for the six previous years’ Christmas Cookies:

First Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2009)

Second Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2010)

Third Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2011)

Fourth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2012)

Fifth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2013)

Sixth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2014)

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Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 1

This cheesecake starts with an easy-to-make lemon gingersnap crust, followed by layers of pumpkin and vanilla cheesecake. After baking, the entire cheesecake is garnished with pecans and drizzled with a butterscotch topping. This is a great make-ahead dessert perfect for Thanksgiving, or any other holiday.

The Lemon Gingersnap Crust is made from these cookies:

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 3

For detailed information about baking a cheesecake in a water bath, see this post: Creamy Citrus Cheesecake

Once the cheesecake has baked and chilled for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, the pecan garnish and butterscotch topping can be added.

Start by spreading a thin layer of butterscotch sauce over the top of the cheesecake, spreading to the edge. Place pecans around the outside edge of the cheesecake.

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 2

Using a squeeze bottle or pastry bag with a thin round tip, drizzle butterscotch sauce over the entire top of the cheesecake and pecans, allowing some to drip down the sides. You can do a simple drizzle, or a lattice pattern by drizzling in straight lines along cheesecake, then turning 90 degrees and drizzling again (perpendicular to first layer).

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 1

 

RECIPE:

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 1

Lemon Gingersnap Crust
1 (7 oz) pkg Carr’s Ginger Lemon Cremes
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tbs butter, melted

Process cookies and pecans in a food processor until finely ground. Add melted butter and mix. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9” springform pan. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes while preparing filling.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. (You can also substitute 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the other spices)

Vanilla Cheesecake Layer
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350F. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil. Place springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

Pour pumpkin filling into crust.  Slowly pour vanilla filling over top of the pumpkin batter. Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot (almost boiling) water to about 1-2 inches deep.

Bake cheesecake in the water bath for about 80 minutes. (Cover top of cheesecake with foil if it begins to brown before it is set.) When it is cooked, the cheesecake will have puffed significantly, and the middle will still be slightly jiggly, but not soupy. Remove pan from water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Place on a cooling rack and let cheesecake stand at room temperature for one hour. Cover cheesecake pan (do not remove sides) with plastic wrap, taking care not to touch the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

Butterscotch Sauce
4 Tbs butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs corn syrup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Whole Pecans for Garnish

Combine butter, brown sugar, cream, corn syrup, lemon juice and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until mixture boils. Simmer for 5 additional minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla and cook for 2 more minutes. Cool before drizzling over cheesecake. Store in refrigerator. (This makes more than you will need for topping the cheesecake)

Remove sides of springform pan from chilled cheesecake. Remove bottom of pan and place cheesecake on a serving platter.

If butterscotch sauce has been refrigerated, you may need to warm it just slightly in the microwave until it can be drizzled (about 30-40 seconds). Spread a thin layer of butterscotch sauce over the top of the cheesecake, spreading to the edge. Place pecan halves around the outside edge of the cheesecake. Using a squeeze bottle or pastry bag with a thin round tip, drizzle butterscotch sauce over the entire top of the cheesecake and pecans, allowing some to drip down the sides. You can do a simple drizzle, or a lattice pattern by drizzling in straight lines along cheesecake, then turning 90 degrees and drizzling again (perpendicular to first layer). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Orange Pinwheels

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DAY 11: Cranberry Orange Pinwheels

Traditional flavors of Christmas, all swirled into a bite-sized cookie. Buttery orange dough swirled with chopped fresh cranberries and pecans. A delicious cookie for the grown-up cookie plate.

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RECIPE:

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Cranberry Orange Pinwheels
—————–(from Better Homes & Gardens)

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp grated orange peel
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cranberries
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and orange peel until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

For filling, in a food processor combine cranberries, pecans, and brown sugar. Cover and blend or process until cranberries and nuts are finely chopped; set filling aside.

Roll half of the dough between pieces of waxed paper (or plastic wrap) into a 10-inch square. Spread half of the filling over dough square to within 1/2 inch of edges; roll up dough. Moisten edges; pinch to seal. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices . Place slices 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes about 60 cookies

 

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