Using Demerara sugar in place of icing sugar makes these cookies extra moist and adds a slight molasses-like taste. Fill the thumbprints quickly or else the caramel will seize. If this happens, simply reheat on the stovetop or microwave in a microwaveable dish until soft.
- Prep time 45 minutes
- Total time 2 hours
Cookies: In stand mixer with paddle attachment, or in bowl using wooden spoon, beat together butter, Demerara sugar and vanilla until fluffy; stir in flour just until combined.
Roll by 1 tbsp into balls. Arrange, 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart, on parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheets. Supporting opposing sides of 1 ball with 2 fingers, press opposite index finger or handle of wooden spoon into centre to create well 1/2 inch (1 cm) deep and 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide. Pinch together any cracks around edge. Repeat with remaining balls.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in 350°F (180°C) oven until bottoms are light golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on pans for 3 minutes; transfer directly to racks to cool completely.
Salted Caramel: In saucepan, bring sugar and corn syrup to boil over medium-high heat; boil, without stirring but brushing down side of pan with pastry brush dipped in cold water, until dark amber, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; standing back and averting face, stir in cream, butter, vanilla and salt. Return to medium-high heat; cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Spoon scant 1 tsp into well of each cookie; let stand until set, about 5 minutes. (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper in airtight container; refrigerate for up to 3 days. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.)
Garnish: Sprinkle caramel with gold leaf (if using).
Tip from The Test Kitchen: To make thumbprint cookies that hold their shape during baking, roll the dough into high balls and use the handle of a wooden spoon to indent them right down the centre.
Makes 36 cookies.
Nutritional facts per cookie: about
- Sodium 78 mg
- Sugars 8 g
- Protein 1 g
- Calories 116.0
- Total fat 7 g
- Potassium 11 mg
- Cholesterol 17 mg
- Saturated fat 4 g
- Total carbohydrate 14 g
- Iron 3.0
- Folate 5.0
- Vitamin A 6.0