Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Most thumbprints are butter cookies with an indentation—made with the poke of a thumb, which is how the cookie got its name—that is filled with jam. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, I thought a jazzier version for the holidays, something in chocolate, would be more fun to make and scrumptious to eat. Here, the cookie is chocolate, the well is filled with chewy caramel, and a drizzle of dark chocolate tops it off. Jazzy, indeed.–Lisa Zwirn


These untraditional yet nonetheless addictive nibblies are quite fine with a dollop of caramel in the center, although we don’t think they’d be terrible with a spoonful of ganache, for those who crave a triple threat of chocolate. A dabble of Nutella probably wouldn’t be terrible, either.

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints
Lisa Zwirn

Prep 50 mins
Cook 1 hr 10 mins
Total 2 hrs
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the Christmas Cookies cookbook

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel filling

  • 20 (5 1/2 ounces) caramels such as Kraft candies, unwrapped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

For the chocolate drizzle

  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped


Make the chocolate dough

  • Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the sugar and beat well until fluffy. Beat in the whole egg and egg yolk. Mix in the vanilla. With the beaters on low speed, mix in the flour mixture just until incorporated and the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide it in half. Wrap each half separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Prepare the oven and pans

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bake the cookies

  • Working with 1 portion of the dough at a time, roll it into 1-inch balls and arrange them about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Make an indentation in the center of each ball using the handle end of a wooden spoon or your thumb, being careful not to go all the way through the dough.
  • Bake for about 13 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking, or until the cookies feel just slightly firm. Transfer the cookie sheets to a rack and immediately depress the centers of the cookies again using the handle end of a wooden spoon to reinforce and widen the indentation to about 3/4 inch in diameter. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

Make the caramel filling

  • Heat the caramels and cream in a medium saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring often, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Using the smallest, pointiest spoon you have, such as a demitasse spoon, spoon the caramel into the indentations in the cookies, filling just up to the rim. If the caramel becomes too thick, place the saucepan back over low heat for a few seconds. Let the caramel set before drizzling the cookies with chocolate.

Make the chocolate drizzle

  • Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for 20- to 30-second intervals on medium power, stirring after each interval, until melted and smooth. Let cool at room temperature for a few minutes.

Decorate the cookies

  • Place the cookies close together, but not touching, on racks set over wax paper. Pour the chocolate into a small plastic bag (or squeeze bottle). Seal the bag and make a tiny cut in one corner. Working quickly, drizzle the chocolate in a zigzag pattern over the cookies. Let the chocolate set completely. (You can store the cookies, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)
Print RecipeBuy the Christmas Cookies cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Originally published April 23, 2008


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  1. 5 stars
    Hi again. I made these last night, and this morning for the LW crew, and they seem to be a hit, also. Thanks for keeping your hosting team well-fed! 😀

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