These Dark Chocolate Cookies with Salted Caramel are a hybrid of rolled sugar cookies and classic thumbprints. Dark chocolate cookie dough is rolled and cut with specially designed thumbprint cookie stamps. After baking they are filled with melted caramel and garnished with flake sea salt.
I’ve made quite a few batches of cookies this season, and this one wins the award for most requested. It’s hard to beat the classic flavors of chocolate and caramel together – unless it’s caramel and sea salt. And in this case, it’s all three together!
You could certainly use this dough for any shape of cut-out cookie you wish, because it’s a basic butter cookie that holds its shape well during baking. However, I really enjoyed using these thumbprint cookie stamps from Williams-Sonoma. They make the prettiest cookies with a divot in the center that holds filling. You could also roll the dough into balls and press them with a thumb, which is the good old fashioned way to make thumbprints.
Chill the cookies before baking. This helps them hold their shape in the oven, and helps maintain the stamp design as well.
The filling is made by heating caramel bits (or squares) in a saucepan with a tablespoon of water. Once the caramel is melted and smooth, let it cool a little before transferring to a disposable piping bag. Snip a tiny hole in the end so the caramel doesn’t spill out too fast, and fill each cookie with caramel.
Directly after piping the cookies with caramel, place a pinch of flake sea salt on top of each. This makes them so delicious! The flake sea salt gives the tiniest crunch and delivers big flavor with the sweet caramel. Using the cookie stamps almost made them look too perfect, as if manufactured, but there’s no mistaking their delicious scratch-made flavor!
Dark Chocolate Cookies with Salted Caramel
- 'Thumbprint' Cookie Stamps
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 1 cup caramel bits (such as Kraft) or 24 caramel squares (unwrapped)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Flake sea salt for garnish
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until well incorporated, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Mix well.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, fine grain salt and dark cocoa powder. Whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture and mix on low speed until a thick dough forms (it should not be sticky). Note: If the dough isn’t coming together, raise speed and add ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together. Again, the dough should not be sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Dust cookie stamps with cocoa powder before cutting, or use 2.5-inch round cookie cutters and press and indention into the center of the cookies with your thumb. (You may also roll the dough into balls and indent with a thumb for a more traditional thumbprint cookie.) Place the cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheets and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the pans 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cookies cool, Place the caramel bits and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Caramel will be hot, so let cool until warm but still pourable. Transfer the caramel to a piping bag or a zip-top bag with a small hole cut in a corner. Fill cookies with the caramel and immediately sprinkle with flake sea salt. Let the cookies stand until the caramel firms. Once completely firm, the caramel will be opaque and lose its shine.
- Store cookies in an airtight container.