Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Peanut Caramel
Out of this year’s batch of Christmas cookies, this has been far and away everyone’s favorite.
The result is a crispy peanut butter cookie, with a creamy caramel and chopped peanuts at the center. To finish them, I piped some of the extra chocolate topping leftover from the Paradise Macaroons over the top (and by piped, I mean put into a ziploc bag, snipped the corner, and squeezed–but whatever works!).
I found this recipe on another blog, but I can’t seem to find it right now. I’ll have to link to it when I do.
Peanut Butter Cookies with Peanut Caramel
Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet
- 8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup (200g) creamy peanut butter (use regular peanut butter, not any fancy natural type).
- 1 3/4 cups (250g) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.
3. Beat in the peanut butter.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture and beat until there are no patches of flour. Be careful to add the flour in small batches, or you will end up with a cloud of flour in your kitchen.
5. Scoop up tablespoon-sized portions of the dough (I used a cookie scooper, kind of like a miniature ice cream scoop) and roll each piece between your hands so they’re as smooth as possible. Try to avoid cracks whenever possible.
6. Space them 1 1/2-inches apart on the baking sheets, and use your thumb to make an indentation at the center of each one. The sides will crack; just push them back together as much as possible.
7. Bake the cookies for 13-16 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway during cooking, until they are light-golden brown and the edges barely start to darken. Remove from oven, and while they’re warm, press in to reinforce each depression. Your original indentations will have puffed up, and they need to be replaced. They’ll be too hot to use your thumb–I used the cork from a wine bottle, and it was perfect, but you could also use the end of a wooden spoon. Let cool completely.
Salted Peanut Caramel:
- 1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (125ml) water
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (100g) finely chopped roasted salted peanuts
8. Start by warming the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave. You want it to be hot, but not to the point that it boils.
9. Cook the water, 1 cup sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it turns a nice, golden brown color.
10. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the hot cream in a slow, steady stream.
11. As it cools, the caramel will set up. When it has thickened to a caramel sauce, but is still pourable, mix in the chopped peanuts. Spoon some of the caramel into each cooled cookie.
Note: As I mentioned above, I used some of the leftover chocolate from the Paradise Macaroons, and it finishes the cookies nicely. Be sure to let the filled cookies cool for at least an hour before trying to top with chocolate. Also, I had at least twice a much caramel as I actually needed, and while I can imagine a number of possibilities for it, I wasn’t prepared for any of them, so it went to waste.
I will definitely make these cookies again. I think they’d be great filled with jelly or jam, for a PB&J flavor, or maybe with pure chocolate at the center. I might have to play with some other combinations.