Okay, well that was just cool!

I think this was the second time I’ve made caramel but I can’t quite remember.  I believe I made homemade caramel way back when, when I was crazy type A and everything had to be perfect.  I vaguely remember a toffee, caramel cheesecake that I made years ago and of which I do not have fond memories.

Now that I’ve made it (possibly for the second time) it is so easy and absolutely delicious!  This recipe guarantees your success.  Seriously, the entire recipe is simply easy although it makes it look like you’ve slaved for hours.

The dough is very thick and dry so just be ready for that.  It’s okay that it’s as dense as it is.  It’ll easily stretch out if you use a teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the cookie dough. Plus you’ll have plenty of caramel left over for ice cream sundaes.  In my mind, that’s the ideal of a fabulous recipe!

Chocolate Thumbprints with Caramel and Sea Salt (care of Colette Tihista-Longin)

Chocolate Thumbprints

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup flour, generous 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. salt. 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature), 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg yolk, 1 tbsp. heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/2 cup sparkling sugar or powdered sugar for rolling, or just leave plain

CARAMEL INGREDIENTS: 1 cup granulated sugar, 6 tbsp. unsalted butter (cut into tbsp.-size chunks), 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 fine sea salt (plus about 1/2 tsp. for sprinkling)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add egg yolk, cream and vanilla.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Scoop dough into 1 tsp. portions and roll into balls, then roll balls in sparkling or powdered sugar to coat.  Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  With end of a thick-handled spoon, gently press an indentation into center of each cookie.  Bake until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (The depressions tend to fill in a bit as they bake, so as soon as they’re out of the oven, give them another press with the spoon if necessary.) Slide the parchment with cookies onto cooing racks and let cool.  If you’ve used powdered sugar, sift a little more onto the cookies.

Make caramel:  Put granulated sugar in a large nonstick frying-pan; spread evenly.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Sugar will form clumps but eventually will melt and turn into a dark, amber colored liquid, about 6 minutes.  As soon as it’s liquified, reduce heat to medium-low.  Add butter and stir until incorporated.  Stirring constantly, drizzle in cream.  Boil 1 minute, stirring, then remove from hear and stir in 1/4 tsp. sea salt.  Scrape into a bowl and let cool completely.

Assemble cookies:  Spoon about 1/4 tsp. caramel into each cookie, then sprinkle with a few grain of sea salt.

** You’ll have more caramel than you need, but that’s never a bad thing – it’s great on ice ream.  Don’t be tempted to cook a half-batch of caramel, as it won’t cook right and will seize up.

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