Pumpkin Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
My food brain dreamed up these shortbread cookies with creamy pumpkin caramel back in June when the rest of you were thinking about watermelon and Jell-O shots, and bikini tops, and summer sunsets, and all of the amazing summer things. I was sweating it out in my kitchen, covered in pumpkin puree, completely confused by the smell of holiday spices.
It’s about time these cookies make sense! I mean… I’m wearing a scarf for goodness sake. A scarf!
I made these cookies back in June for this month’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine. These cookies are just one of a good handful of pumpkin recipes that fill the pages.
All I’m saying is… this is really good news on the pumpkin front. Because there is a pumpkin front…. we’re looking right at it.
It’s time to talk about these cookies. These cookies are the base of our thumbprints. The fundamental. The everything.
We’re making a fancy brown sugar shortbread of sorts. Lots of butter (not sorry), lots of brown sugar (still not sorry), and flour. Simple!
Fresh out of the stand mixer this cookie dough will be too soft to handle. It needs a few hours in the refrigerator to rechill the butter before hitting the cookie scooper and the oven. Mandatory chill.
Once the dough is chilled it can be cleanly scooped onto a sheet pan. We’re going to need our thumbs next. One thumb will do.
One thumb in each cookie ball. We’re creating a place for our caramel.
Now… we may lose the indentation in the oven as the cookie bakes and inflates a bit. Not to worry. Use the back of a spoon reinforce the indentation just after the cookies come out of the oven. No harm. No foul.
Let’s talk about this caramel!
Essentially, we’re going to trust ourselves to burn sugar, add cream and pumpkin and make it delicious. First tho…. we have to burn the sugar. That’s the scary part.
In a small saucepan combine granulated sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat. Cook, swirl, and observe until the mixture is a deep golden color. No thermometer required… just a sense of color.
Once the sugar is cooked to amber, it’s removed from the heat and cream and butter are stirred in. Sure there’s a bit of foaming and frothing… caramel is dramatic like that. It’s all a part of the act.
Once the butter and cream are stirred into the caramel, we add pumpkin puree. Stir and stir. This is a safe place.
The pumpkin caramel will be smooth and creamy, sweet and pumpkin-y. After a bit of cooling time, the pumpkin caramel is totally spoonable. Spoonable into cookies. Exactly right.
Shortbread cookies baked until juuust golden around the edges, cooled on the baking sheet, dusted with powdered sugar, and spooned with pumpkin caramel.
Salt too. Always a bit of salt. These cookies are a combination of crisp and creamy. I love the texture difference… with a bit of holiday flair. Baking is one part texture, two parts butter, one part flair. Are you taking notes?