A few months ago I was brainstorming ideas of holiday cookie recipes. One of the first cookies that comes to mind when I think of holiday cookies is the classic thumbprint cookie. They are typically filled with some type of fruit jam or preserves, but I thought it would be fun to cross them with another classic holiday dessert, pecan pie. Once they were baked, I added a caramel drizzle. When the glaze had set and I finally tasted one, I was in cookie heaven.
These are easily one of the best cookies I’ve made, and I’ve made a lot of cookies. The cookie itself is so tender and almost flaky thanks to the combination of butter and cream cheese. The pecans in the dough and in the topping add a warm, nutty note and the caramel is the perfect finishing touch. These would be an ideal addition to any holiday cookie platter or in holiday goodie packages…that is, if you can bear to part with them.
Pecan Pie Thumbprints
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or bourbon)
Pinch of coarse salt
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
For caramel drizzle:
4 ounces caramel candies, unwrapped
2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more as needed
To make dough, combine butter and cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in sugars and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes more. Blend in vanilla extract. With mixer on low speed, mix in pecans, salt and flour just until fully incorporated. Cover bowl and transfer to refrigerator. Chill dough for about 30-60 minutes.
While dough is chilling, make filling. In medium bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, corn syrup, egg yolk, vanilla and salt. Whisk just until blended. Stir in pecans.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Scooping about 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll dough into balls. Place dough balls on baking sheets 2-3 inches apart. Use your thumb (or wine cork) to make a small round indentation in the center of each dough ball, about 1 inch in diameter. Fill each indentation with some of pecan filling mixture.
Bake cookies, rotating pans halfway through, until light golden and set, about 16-18 minutes total. Cool briefly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire rack set over wax paper or foil. Let cool completely.
To make caramel drizzle, combine the caramels and heavy cream in small microwave safe bowl. Heat in 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until caramels are fully melted and mixture is smooth. If needed, add more cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixture reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzle caramel over cooled cookies on wire rack. If caramel begins to harden, microwave for 10 more seconds and stir to rewarm.
baking, Christmas, cookie, holiday
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