Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies With Salted Caramel

'Sweet and savory make friends in one delicious bite' is what sold me on this recipe. Reading this recipe in Martha Stewarts Everyday Living made my mouth water. So, one afternoon, while my little monkey of a toddler napped, and I had the kitchen to myself, I did what I love the most, baked in absolute silence. And the cookies lived up to its description— sweet (but not too sweet) shortbread cookies, coated with coconut, with an oh-so-sweet bite of caramel, with the perfect surprise hit of good quality flaked sea salt. I had a cookie with my evening cup of tea yesterday and woke up bright an early today (not feeling so bright and early) but this cookie definitely helped perk my morning up. 

I did have to make a few changes to the recipe, based on availability of ingredients here in Las Palmas, Spain (where I am for the rest for the year) along with dietary restrictions. Instead of sweetened coconut flakes, I used unsweetened coconut powder. This worked for us as my father-in-law is diabetic, and this way he can share this large batch of cookies with us, almost guilt-free. I also omitted using the egg (which was called for in the recipe to help the coconut flakes to stick to the dough ball) but it worked just fine without the egg. Some of the people I was sharing this large batch of cookies with do not eat eggs.

The caramel candies that you use, must be the soft kind. Do not use caramel candies that are hard, as it will harden again and the textures just won't work! I did my first batch with hard caramel candies (lesson learnt: read the recipe carefully!) and it didn't work out so well. The second batch worked beautifully with the softer candies— taste wise and also to work with.

3 sticks unsalted butter (24 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
44 small soft caramel candies, (12 ounces), such as Kraft
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Large, flaky sea salt, such as Maldon


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar, with a mixer on medium speed, until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla.
  3. With mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 teaspoon table salt, and beat to combine.
  4. Press dough together in plastic wrap, then roll into 1 1/4-inch balls.
  5. Dip each ball in the beaten egg, and roll into coconut, or roll into coconut directly.
  6. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, and press an indentation into each with your thumb. 
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the sheets from oven, and re-press indentations.
  9. Bake cookies until golden, another 9 to 10 minutes. 
  10. Let cook on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.
  11. Place caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. 
  12. Spoon into indentations in cookies, and sprinkle with sea salt.
  13. Rewarm caramel if hardens before all cookies are filled. (Store in airtight containers for up to 2 days).