Caramel, with or without a popular topping of salt flakes, is often considered to be a fall flavor, perhaps because of its warm toasty color or because it goes so well with apples. Gingerbread, however, is often thought of as a winter treat due to its association with the holiday season. So these salted caramel ginger thumbprints could be seen as the perfect transitional cookie to span the gap between Halloween and Christmas. Recipe developer describes the cookies as "... kind of a standard gingerbread, but the filling for the thumbprint really makes them special." The secret ingredient is white chocolate, which adds its subtle mysterious flavor, and makes them "... actually set pretty hard."
For this reason, the cookies can be stacked and transported more easily than other thumbprint cookies. As Morone points out, this means that you can give these out as holiday cookies this season. These cookies will stand out from all of the usual suspects in the holiday cookie assortment, boasting the perfect balance of gingery spice and buttery caramel. They're designed for festive occasions and go well with any warming wintery drink, whether it be chai, hot cocoa, mulled cider, or a .
The cookie dough is made up of flour, baking soda, butter, brown sugar, an egg, heavy cream, and granulated sugar, while it gets its flavor from ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and molasses. The filling requires just two additional ingredients: vanilla extract and white chocolate chips.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a large bowl use an electric mixer or stand mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
Add the egg, heavy cream and molasses to the bowl and beat together until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and beat until well combined. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Use a small cookie scoop to create 1 tablespoon-sized balls and roll each in the granulated sugar in a small bowl.
Place at least 2-inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all the cookie dough has been used. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes, until the edges are set.
Carefully remove cookies from the oven and immediately use a teaspoon measuring spoon to press an indent into the center of the baked cookies. Let cool.
To make the caramel, heat the granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium-low heat, mixing often, until the sugar melts completely.
Once sugar is melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir the butter into the caramel until it is integrated. The mixture will bubble up as you do this.
Add the vanilla extract, heavy cream and white chocolate chips to the pan and stir until the chocolate melts and everything is combined.
Immediately spoon the caramel into each of the indents in the cookies, filling each to almost the top.
Let caramel set (about 10 minutes) then serve the cookies
If you want to store these cookies at room temperature, Morone says that they should stay reasonably fresh for a week if kept in an airtight container. This means that a cookie jar with a rubber ring around the inside of the lid in order to provide maximum protection would be ideal. Although it's not necessary to refrigerate these cookies, doing so could extend the storage time, and it's a good option for people who enjoy the taste of a chilled cookie.
While Morone admits that she's never tried freezing her leftover salted caramel ginger thumbprint cookies, she says it should be fine. She also suggests that you could make a batch of the dough ahead of time, store it in the freezer, and then thaw and bake the cookies when you're ready to eat them. Her advice, though, is to make the filling after you bake them rather than trying to prepare the caramel in advance.
As this recipe makes 3 dozen cookies, you may need to bake it in several batches. You won't want to put more than 12 cookies on a standard baking sheet, as Morone does, to avoid overcrowding. Morone tells us, "I was able to put them all in my oven at the same time," but it is possible that your oven might not be large enough to fit all of the required cookie sheets at once. Some baking experts also suggest that you shouldn't bake more than a single batch of cookies at a time for optimal results.
If you do decide to bake two or more sheets of cookies at the same time, halfway through the baking time so that each one is exposed to an equal amount of heat. Whether it takes two batches or three, Morone notes that the baking time would obviously be extended to account for this. That means that if you have a smaller oven or you prefer to bake just one batch at a time, it might become a leisurely task for a chilly weekend afternoon, with the reward of a freshly baked cookie at the end of it.