Caramel Thumbrint Cookies

caramel thumbrint cookiesGaultier. Cavalli. Ferragamo. Versace.

I could rattle off these foreign luxury brands as early as eight years old, thanks to my fashionista mother. She’s had a subscription to Vogue for as long as I can remember, which I loved flipping through, even to just get to those folded pages with the perfume samples.

Even when I was a little girl, I knew she was different from the other moms – she worked long hours full time, she didn’t read Good Housekeeping, I’ve never once seen her don an apron, and she didn’t sport the practical plain shoes that I see on the other moms. Instead, she had these beautiful, tall, intricate shoes – pointy stilettos, sky high wedges, pretty peeptoes, striking boots (she still has them, plus more, now).

And because she was different, I felt like I was different. I felt I was special.

As I grew older, I realized that my mom and I are very much alike. She passed on her love for fashion and magazines to me (did you guys know I worked for Cosmo and Seventeen magazine before I moved to Boston?), my obsession with shoes (it’s an investment!), an unflinching desire to learn and develop a career, and a deep appreciation for beauty. Now I know it was never just about the fashion brands, it was always about beauty.

(And lest you think that my mom is a brand/luxury snob, she is actually quite the opposite. This is the same woman who would spend  hours at Filene’s Basement, and who prefers taking the Fung Wa bus from Boston to New York instead of the more expensive Amtrak.)

Another thing I inherited from my mom? My inability to turn down a good chocolate caramel treat.

chocolate thumbrint cookiesMy mom loves anything “turtle” flavored: chocolate, caramel, and pecans. I made these Salted Chocolate Turtle Graham Bars over the holidays mainly for her and so she can share it with her friends. Four years ago, when I was just beginning to get my baking groove on and this blog was still just a baby blog, I made these Caramel Pecan Shortbread Cups for her, too (if you click on the link, you’ll see that my photography skills has improved). The latest turtle treats I made are these Caramel Thumbprint Cookies.

I found a recipe for Chocolate Turtle Cookies and decided to tweak it: I added dark chocolate chips (why not?) and brown sugar (for more caramel undertones) and I used store-bought caramel candies (instead of making a caramel sauce/ganache). I also doubled the egg yolks because I wanted a rich, fudgy cookie.

kerrygold unsalted butterI used Kerrygold unsalted butter which the kind folks at Kerrygold generously sent to me last month (along with  a few of their delicious cheeses.)

The cookies have all the turtle flavors that my mom and I love: rich dark chocolate, smooth and creamy caramel, and crunchy toasted pecans. Next time I will make the cookies smaller (or double the caramel) so that the ratio of cookie to caramel would be more even. I might also add a drizzle of chocolate for even more decadence.

I made these caramel thumbprint cookies over the weekend and kept them in my freezer  for my mom (and the rest of my family) who will be here in Boston in a couple of weeks for my graduation. I adore my mother so much – she is so lovely and passionate and smart. And she has impeccable taste. I can’t wait to enjoy these with her.

caramel turtle cookies

Yield: 18 cookies

Caramel Thumbrint Cookies


1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped pecans
18 soft caramel candies (I used Lancaster soft cremes)
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips


  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a big mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy (you can use an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or just manually with a fork and a wooden spoon). Add egg yolks and vanilla extract; mix together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, and mix together. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a small bowl, beat egg whites together until fully. Place chopped pecans in a separate bowl.
  6. Using a standard cookie scoop (or a heaping 1 tablespoon of dough), portion out the dough into balls. Dip each ball into egg whites, then roll into chopped pecans.
  7. Place dough balls evenly on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Make an indentation in the middle of each cookie with your thumb or a rounded spoon. Bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and place one caramel candy in the middle of each cookie. Bake for another minute or two. Cool right on the pan before serving.

recipe adapted from Pixelated Crumb

These turtle cookies may never appear in the pages of Vogue, but there is something in them to be appreciated. Beauty? Maybe. Love? Definitely.

mom and me in kyotomom and me in Kyoto earlier this year

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy! Thank you for always making me feel special.

If you’d like to read more about my wonderful mother, please check out a few other blog posts that I dedicated to her: Kesong Puti: A Cheese I’ve Loved My Whole Life, Marcella Hazan and My Marcelia (which the late great Mrs. Hazan found and posted on her own personal Facebook page), and Key Lime Pie.


45 Responses to “Caramel Thumbrint Cookies”

  1. #
    Monica posted May 8, 2014 at 7:46 am

    These look out of this world and your mom sounds extraordinary. Such a sweet connection you have with her. These treats will be so nice to share. And congrats on your upcoming graduation!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you, Monica! I can’t wait :)

  2. #
    Joanne posted May 8, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I can never turn down anything chocolate caramel either! These are bites of perfection. And what a sweet post!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you, Joanne! You and I have the same gigantic sweet tooth so I am not surprised you like these :)

  3. #
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) posted May 8, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Your mom sounds AWESOME!!! And so do these cookies!! that gorgeous caramel center, and the chocolate + nutty cookies…mmmmmmm!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you, Kayle! Dipping in frothy egg whites also adds a nice texture.

  4. #
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health posted May 8, 2014 at 9:39 am

    such an adorable post..i have never tried that brand of butter before but i have heard good things about it.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Thanks, Dixya! Kerrygold is soooo good.

  5. #
    Christina Orso posted May 8, 2014 at 9:56 am

    i’m ashamed to say i’ve never used kerrygold…bad girl!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      You should try ASAP – it’s soooo creamy!

  6. #
    Alyssa @ My Sequined Life posted May 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    What a sweet post about your mom, Bianca! These cookies look incredible – all that melty caramel! Yum!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you, Alyssa! The caramels were soft to begin with so after a minute or two in the oven it melted to perfection.

  7. #
    Michelle Lahey posted May 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Awww, this is such a lovely post for Mother’s Day! I loved reading this.

  8. #
    Kathi @ Deliciously Yum! posted May 8, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Beautiful cookies, Bianca. Whenever I see thumbprint cookies I usually think of Christmas, but not when I saw yours. Now I am seriously questioning why I’ve been depriving myself of these cookies, ha. Also, I am totally on board with the flavor combo. Chocolate and caramel – it doesn’t get much better than that!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks, Kathi! I used to think thumbprint cookies were boring, but clearly not anymore either :)

  9. #
    marcie posted May 8, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Love the pic of you and your mom, and these cookies are my kind of cookie! Anything with caramel and chocolate is where it’s at for me. :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks, Marcie! It’s such a delicious combination.

  10. #
    Megan posted May 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    What a sweet tribute to your mom! The cookies look amazing!

  11. #
    Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg posted May 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I can’t turn turn down chocolate or caramel either. These cookies look divine!

  12. #
    Shannon posted May 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    love those things shared between mom and daughter :) my mom would certainly go crazy for these as well!

    ps- so glad you tried the bacon broccoli!! your comment made my day, and reminded me that it’s been a few weeks since it’s gotten on the menu, so that needs to be changed asap!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Oh my gosh it the bacon broccoli was so good! I might make it again tonight haha

  13. #
    Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor posted May 8, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Love the sweet post about your mom! I wouldn’t be able to turn down these cookies either. That’s awesome that you used to work for Cosmo and Seventeen!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks, Ashley! Working for magazines was fun but pretty exhausting. Great experience though :)

  14. #
    ATasteOfMadness posted May 9, 2014 at 12:40 am

    This was such a sweet post (sentimentally and taste-wise). And I totally remember going through my mom’s magazines for perfume samples :) I haven’t seen those in ages!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      I’m subscribed to a lot of magazines and I still look forward to those pages with perfume samples until now! :)

  15. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes posted May 9, 2014 at 12:50 am

    There’s just something about thumbprint cookies that I’ve always loved. They are fun to make…and eat :) Great recipe!

  16. #
    Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking posted May 9, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Aww, what a nice memory to share with your mom! I share your ladies’ love of chocolate-caramel treats, too. These look irresistible, Bianca!

  17. #
    dina posted May 9, 2014 at 10:26 am

    these look amazing!

  18. #
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert posted May 9, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Bianca – this is a lovely post! I love how your adore your mom. That is so special. These cookies are special too and I could not resist the chocolate caramel combination. Beautiful all around! Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

  19. #
    Amy @ Elephant Eats posted May 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Your mom sounds pretty special :) What a nice treat to make these for her…i hope you sent some to her! I never think to make chocolate caramel things, but these look so rich and delicious.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted May 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks, Amy. My mom will be here in a couple of weeks so I just froze the cookies instead of mailing them to the Philippines, which would take longer! Happy Friday!

  20. #
    El posted May 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    They look amazing!

  21. #
    Danae @ Recipe Runner posted May 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I have an obsession with shoes just like I have an obsession with thumbprint cookies! These one’s you’ve made look fabulous. I love the caramel filling and the pecans coating the outside of them!

  22. #
    grace posted May 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    SO jealous of your kerrygold jackpot! jealous that you got to consume some of these cookies too–that puddle of caramel is amazing.

  23. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife posted May 9, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Such a sweet post! I absolutely loved hearing about your mom. Also, I can’t think of a better way to say I love you than with these caramely, chocolatey little wonder bites :-)

  24. #
    Liz posted May 9, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I’ve made a similar cookie and they’re SO, so good!!! You’ve made my mouth water!! Happy mother’s day to your sweet mom!

  25. #
    Choc Chip Uru posted May 9, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    What a delicious mothers day cookie, the caramel looks dreamy :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  26. #
    whatjessicabakednext posted May 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    These cookies look so cool- I love the flavours! Caramel and chocolate is one of my fav flavour combo’s!

  27. #
    Shashi @ RunninSrilankan posted May 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Chocolate, caramel and pecans all in one bite?!?! Oh heaven!
    This is such a sweet post Bianca – happy mothers day to your mom!

  28. #
    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures posted May 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    You’re mom sounds like an amazing and elgent woman. I appreciate her taste in sweets! Yum!

  29. #
    Ashley posted May 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I am such a fan of thumbprint cookies – I’ve always loved the way they look! And with the pecans, caramel and dark chocolate chips … I’ll take a few for dessert!

  30. #
    Sarah & Arkadi posted May 14, 2014 at 12:05 am

    love that caramel filling!

  31. #
    Cathy@LemonTreeDwelling posted May 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    These look absolutely divine! That caramel center….mmmmmmm :)

  32. #
    Molly Galler posted May 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    These cookies look fantastic and decadent! Love the ode to your Mama.

Leave a Comment