Last week, just before Thanksgiving, Amanda & I made those wonderful Salted Caramel Thumbprints that Pillsbury posted (and which I heard about thanks to Callye at www.sweetsugarbelle.com). They were really delicious, but I wasn't entirely happy with how much they spread out in the oven. As I was eating them, I came up with the idea to make a dark chocolate version. This morning, I set out to make them. As a base recipe, I used Joanne Fluke's Cocoa Snap recipe from her Hannah Swensen mystery series. I cut the recipe in half and omitted the baking soda (which completely took care of the spreading problem) as well as the granulated sugar for coating. Her Cocoa Snaps have a wonderful, dark chocolate flavor that I thought would go well with the salted caramel.
One of the things I love about Joanne's cookie recipes is that most of them start with melting the butter. In this one, you then add the cocoa powder - I used Hershey's Special Dark - and mix it well before adding the sugar. Starting with melted butter is especially nice for our house since we generally use just wood heat in the cold months so I don't have to wait for hours for my butter to soften. The melting of the butter does not seem to adversely affect the resulting cookies either, in fact, I tend to prefer chewy cookies and I've found they turn out beautifully using Joanne's method.
We happen to have some family members who really dislike nuts in their cookies so I baked half without nuts and half with. I used pecans since they are the nut I most associate with thumbprints but also because they are a classic combination with caramel and chocolate (think Turtles).
Unfortunately, Joanne Fluke does not post her recipes online, but if you hop over to her website http://www.murdershebaked.com/ you will find a list that tells you which book the recipe appears in. Here is the adapted version I used today:
1 1/2 sticks melted butter
1 Cup cocoa powder
1 Cup brown sugar
2 eggs (one will be separated)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 Cups flour
approx. 1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
13.4 oz. can Dulce de Leche
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in microwave safe bowl and mix in cocoa until well blended. Add brown sugar and blend well. Mix in 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, salt & vanilla. Stir to combine. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
In a shallow bowl, beat remaining egg white until slightly foamy. Set aside.
Place finely chopped pecans in another shallow bowl.
Using a 1 tsp. cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into small balls. Roll in egg white, then nuts and place on a prepared cookie sheet 12 to a sheet. Using your thumb, gently make a depression in the center of each dough ball.
Bake for 6 minutes at 350 degrees. Spoon 1/2 tsp. Dulce de Leche into the depression of each cookie. Bake 4 minutes more. Sprinkle with coarse salt and transfer to wire racks to cool. Makes 4 dozen cookies.