Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Caramel Apple Spice Thumbprints

Apple spice thumbprint cookies filled with homemade caramel! These delicious fall cookies are completely irresistible and so simple to make! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.)

Apple spice thumbprint cookies filled with homemade caramel! These delicious fall cookies are completely irresistible and so simple to make! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Caramel apple spice thumbprint cookie dough on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make thumbprint cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make thumbprint cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Apple spice thumbprint cookies filled with homemade caramel! These delicious fall cookies are completely irresistible and so simple to make! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Apple spice thumbprint cookies filled with homemade caramel! These delicious fall cookies are completely irresistible and so simple to make! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Apple spice thumbprint cookies filled with homemade caramel! These delicious fall cookies are completely irresistible and so simple to make! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Ingredients:

Topping

  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice*

Dough

  • 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*

Directions:

  1. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, apple pie spice, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Chill the shaped cookies for at least 2-3 hours and up to 4 days. Cover them if chilling for longer than 3 hours.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Recipe Notes:

*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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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Apple Pie SpiceSilpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheets | Cooling Rack | Green Plate

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Apple spice thumbprint cookies filled with homemade caramel! These delicious fall cookies are completely irresistible and so simple to make! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

69 comments

  1. I made these yesterday and the were A-M-A-Z-I–N-G. Definitly a new fall favorite! My hubby’s favorite cookies are snickerdoodles so these were simply perfect. Thanks a bunch Sally!

  2. These cookies are so cute, perfect kid size and perfectly fall in flavor. What a great idea! I’ll be making these this fall for sure. 🙂 

  3. Didn’t even know apple pie spice was a thing! I’m definitely a cookie girl!

  4. there’s no apple pie space where i am and can only find cardamom pods, not ground…could i leave the cardamom out and just use cinnamon and nutmeg? i have sally’s salted caramel that i want to use up 🙂

  5. Definatly won’t use all that caramel sauce. Are there any alternatives? That will set well of course. 

    • You will absolutely have leftover caramel sauce. Or you can make a shortcut version with Kraft caramel candies and modify it to yield how much you’ll need. You’ll need around 1/3 cup. I’m unsure if it will set though.

  6. I made these as a thank you gift! The caramel is the best part of the cookies; it adds such a good burst of flavor. My cookies turned out a little hard and dry. I may have baked them too long. I also live in Colorado where baking is weird. Still delicious though! I froze some for later.

  7. How many cookies would you say this makes?

  8. These are incredible! The last 3 recipes of yours that I’ve made- these cookies, salted caramel apple pie, and your spice cake- have all been added to our family’s “favorite recipes” binder. 

  9. These are so good! They’re like a snickerdoodle, but then have the amazing caramel on them for a burst of flavor. They’re the perfect size too.

  10. My caramel tastes a little bitter. Is there any way to fix it? How can I avoid that in the future?

    • Do you think you burned the sugar? Does it taste burnt?

      • It doesn’t look burned but I guess that could be it. The sugar got clumped when I was melting it so maybe I cooked it too long to get rid of the clumps? Does it help to use a thermometer to check temperature?

  11. Can you use store bought caramel sauce?

    • The sauce won’t set up, so it will just be a puddle in the cookie. If that makes sense? This caramel sets up so it’s like a gooey caramel, not particularly a wet one.

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