Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints
Welcome to COOKIE WEEK! This week I’m sharing 4 new cookie recipes. That’s right, it’s an entire week devoted to cookies as we countdown the days until Sally’s Cookie Addiction. My 3rd cookbook will be published on September 19th; I can’t believe the day is almost here! (Make sure you pre-order to get your 5 bonus recipes and enter this cookie supplies giveaway.)
Let’s kick things off with a cookie that screams FALL. If pumpkin isn’t your thing… or even if it is… you *have* to try these apple spice thumbprints because:
- adorable little 2 bite cookies
- super soft
- gooey caramel!!! that sets after a couple hours!!!
- apple pie spice + sugar coating
- have I mentioned that they’re teeny and cute?
This is a super simple and straightforward cookie dough. Makes wonderful drop sugar cookies and thumbprints provided that you chill the dough appropriately. We’ll get to that step in a second. This isn’t a shortbread cookie– you know the dense crumbly melt-in-your-mouth shortbread texture? I actually have a shortbread thumbprint cookie recipe in Sally’s Cookie Addiction for you. Today’s thumbprint cookie, rather, is similar to a snickerdoodle cookie. Sooo… soft, chewy, extra buttery. Snickerdoodles paired with apple spice and caramel.
Is there a better cookie trio? Dare you to name one.
Mix up the cookie dough. Pretty standard like I mention above: butter, sugar, egg, flour. Gang’s all here! Right after you mix the cookie dough together, roll into balls and coat in an apple spice and sugar mixture.
Note on the apple spice: Do you have apple pie spice where you live? It’s pretty standard here in the US. If you don’t have access to store-bought apple pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
Love this Indent Trick!
Now it’s time to make the thumbprint indent. And I have a trick for you. Instead of using your thumb, use the end of a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. This way you don’t dirty your thumbs, get dough under your nail, touch all the cookies again, AND you obtain a perfect uniform indent among each cookie in the batch. Are you a control freak/neat freak like I am? Then you’ll totally appreciate this hack.
Now let’s chill the cookie dough. So you chill the cookie dough AFTER you complete those steps: make the dough, roll the dough into apple pie spice/sugar, make indents. In my recipe testing, I found that chilling the dough before indenting made it a little too firm and solid; it was hard to work with. Chilling the dough after indenting was much easier. And if you chill the cookies like this (picture below), they’ll hold their shape much better when baked.
Chilling the cookie dough at this stage is the most important step.
Here’s when you’ll add the caramel: bake the chilled + shaped cookies for about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, fill with caramel, then bake for about 1-2 more minutes. This helps the caramel set.
If you find that the indents have lost their shape after the initial 12 minutes in the oven, grab the end of your spatula again, and press down to make a deeper indent. Deeper indent = bigger pool of caramel. Obviously a good thing.
To jazz up the look, sprinkle the tops with a little extra apple pie spice/sugar. The caramel is super gooey right out of the oven (um, yum), but will set after a couple hours making these caramel apple spice thumbprints perfect for stacking, packing, gifting, and traveling. And a little less messy for teeny hands and hungry tummies!!
Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice*
- 2 and 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice*
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- homemade salted caramel*
- Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, apple pie spice, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined.
- Roll balls of dough, a little less than 1 Tablespoon each (about 1 inch balls), and then roll generously into apple pie spice/sugar mixture to coat. Place dough balls onto a large lined baking sheet. Using your thumb or the end of a spatula (see post above), make an indent into each cookie. If you find that the balls are cracking when you make an indent, use your hands to push back together.
- Chill the shaped cookies for at least 2-3 hours and up to 4 days. Cover them if chilling for longer than 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Remove chilled and shaped cookies from the refrigerator. Divide between both baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2-3 inches apart.
- Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven, and spoon 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into each indentation. If the indents have lost their shape or have puffed up, use the end of a spatula to make an indent again. Place cookies back in the oven for 1-2 more minutes.
- Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Caramel will set after a couple hours.
Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Store leftover caramel in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can make and shape the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, as noted in step 4. Baked and filled cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
*Note on the apple spice: Do you have apple pie spice where you live? It's pretty standard here in the US. If you don't have access to store-bought apple pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
*I reduced the salt in the salted caramel to 1/4 teaspoon so it's a regular caramel, not salted. Don't leave out the salt completely! You can, of course, keep as regular salted caramel too. I prefer the sweet version with this cookie and highly recommend you try it too.
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