Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprints

A few weeks ago I finally got to sit down for a few minutes with a pile of  my favorite recipe magazines holiday issues, thinking I would actually have time to read them/look at the pictures.  One I actually have a subscription to but the rest I bought off the rack at the store. I love the holiday issues. Usually way more amazing recipes and photos than every other month and I always find tons of new cookie recipes to try to add to my list that I make every year or to replace one I make. If I always kept adding to my  list I would have to start baking cookies in July to get them all made by Christmas. Maybe.

Brown Butter Bourbon Salted Caramel Thumbprints PineappleandCoconut 1 Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprints

I was flipping through Food Network’s December issue when these caught my eye. I have a mad love affair with salted caramel ANYTHING. So I HAD to make them.

Brown Butter Bourbon Salted Caramel Thumbprints PineappleandCoconut 2 Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel ThumbprintsI have to say that I made more than once batch because the word for word follow the recipe exactly from food network was a fail for me. Taste was ok – a little bland and they were so crumbly that one bite they fell apart. So it was back to the drawing board. I still wanted the combo of the salted caramel and pretzles but it needed something else. Something more… I know! Brown the butter! Yes!!  Add bourbon! Even better!! I also have a thing for brown butter and bourbon in baked goods like from these cupcakes I made. mmm cupcakes.. I haven’t made any in  a while. I think I just might make some soon. Oh yes where were we?  These cookies

Brown Butter Bourbon Salted Caramel Thumbprints PineappleandCoconut 4 Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprints

Another thing I love its salt. I salt everything but with GOOD salt. Himalayan pink salt. Hawaiian red Sea salt. And this amazingly HUGE flaked Maldon sea salt that I used on these cookies. If you dig the sweet salty thing with cookies, desserts whatever, I highly suggest trying Maldon. The taste is so amazing, and the flakes don’t really melt. Its the only salt I will bake with now when making something salty sweet.

Brown Butter Bourbon Salted Caramel Thumbprints PineappleandCoconut 5 Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel ThumbprintsI also cheated a little with these cookies. Normally I would make caramel sauce from scratch. However, I adore the Trader Joe’s Fleur De Sel caramel sauce, or Trader Jaques as they call it.  I could eat this stuff straight out of the jar. So I thought it would be perfect for these cookies. Plus its already made and making homemade caramel is tricky so I wanted to play it safe. And have an excuse to buy a jar or two of this stuff.

Brown Butter Bourbon Salted Caramel Thumbprints PineappleandCoconut 6 Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprints


Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzle Thumbprints
Serves: 36-48
Brown Butter Bourbon Salted Caramel Pretzel thumbprints Makes 3-4 dozen depending on size Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine
  • 2 ½ sticks butter, browned and cooled
  • 2 tbsp good quality bourbon, such as makers mark
  • 2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ c granulated sugar
  • ⅓ c light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 c plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1-2 egg whites
  • 2½ cups skinny pretzel sticks, smashed into little pieces
  • ½-2/3c salted caramel sauce
  • Large Flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top, such as maldon
  1. Heat the butter in a medium sauce pan over low until melted, stirring often. Watch for it to start to get foamy and whisk slowly until brown flecks start to form on the bottom of the pan and it has a nutty aroma. Transfer to a bowl and let cool
  2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add in the honey, vanilla and bourbon and mix again.
  4. Mix in the flour on low. The mixture should resemble wet sand
  5. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll into about a 1” ball, repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 min to firm up
  6. While the dough is chilling prepare the pretzel crumbs. Either place them in a small bowl and smash them with the bottom of a glass or place in a resealable baggie and smash with a rolling pin.
  7. Whip the egg white in a small bowl until foamy
  8. Preheat oven to 350 deg. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment or silicone bake mats
  9. Using one chilled cookie dough ball at a time, first roll in the whipped egg white then in the pretzel pieces and place on cookie sheet. Gently press down in the middle with your thumb. If need be whip a second egg white if you run out of egg white foam to roll the dough in
  10. Bake for 15 min. Once out of the oven, press down with your thumb again on any cookies that lost the indent, cool for 5 min, then cool completely on a wire rack
  11. Once all the cookies are cooled, fill the middles with salted caramel sauce and sprinkle some sea salt flakes on top.
If you make these without browning the butter reduce to 2 sticks of butter. Also I found that rolling in egg white then the pretzels was a bit tedious. The original food network recipe called for mixing in the crushed pretzel pieces in the dough and then rolling in them as well. I think if I make these again I would just have the pieces in the dough and not roll them in them to save time. Also after a couple days the pretzels seemed to get a bit stale so these need to be eaten within a few days of baking.

Brown Butter Bourbon Salted Caramel Thumbprints PineappleandCoconut 3 Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprints

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  1. I want to reach through the computer screen and grab one of these! Holy cow, they sound delicious. You kept upping the yummy factor with every ingredient! :)

  2. Shanna! You are dangerous, girl! Seriously, I need to try these…this holiday season. I love anything sweet & salty with pretzels in it, LOL! Very creative and clever recipe development! xoxo

    • I am with you salty sweet and with the caramel? These are so so worth making!

      • Yes…and, with the bourbon! Very creative, Shanna. I’m all about adding bourbon to cakes, cookies, etc., LOL! Plus, you provided a great source for a quick & easy purchased caramel vs. making own. So thoughtful as peeps are so busy this time of year! Only thing I might add would be to figure out a way to add chocolate to really gild the proverbial lily. Oh! These cookies are small enough…just dip/drench ’em in chocolate! Hahaha!

        • I think drizzling chocolate on top is a most excellent idea!!! I considered it but then didn’t want to hide the gorgeous giant salt flakes. I adore the trader joes fleur de sel sauce. I always have at least 2 jars in the house at all times. Its awesome on vanilla ice cream, waffles, a spoon…

  3. omg, these look divine. I love that caramel from TJs.

  4. These look fantastic!! I love baking with pretzels lately!!

  5. Oh. Mah. Heavens. Those look so delicious! I bet the texture and flavor combo is outstanding!

    Stopping by from SITS

  6. Can I come over? I LOVE salty sweet!

    My mom gave me some Himalayan pink salt, I may have to try it in my baking this holiday season!


  7. Wow, definitely never heard of this recipe! Sounds yummy!! Visiting from SITS!

  8. Just made these…OMG!!! They look amazing and taste like heaven…such a wonderful balance of flavors…
    I did not brown the butter though, I only had two sticks of butter, so instead of cutting down the recipe and taking the chance of burning the only two sticks of butter I had (I’ve never browned butter before), I followed your suggestion at the bottom of the recipe. But I did however roll them in egg white and then the crushed pretzels. Sooooooooo good!!!
    Thank you so much for this recipe.

    • Awesome!!! I am so glad they were a success for you!! A little labor intensive but so good!! Browning the butter just gives them a slight nutty taste, but really not a big deal if you don’t, especially if you haven’t browned butter before. Thanks for letting me know you loved them! Merry Christmas!

  9. Wow Shanna! These look amazing! And great photos too – it made me want to reach into my computer screen and grab one!

  10. Shanna, these look AMAZING!! I saw your Pinning post on the Online BlogCon group. I totally pinned these to my “C is for Cookie” board. LOVE and I’ll be making these! The holiday weight is gone so it’s cookie time again :)
    Meghan @ The Tasty Fork recently posted…Giveaway Alert – Kindle Fire & $50 Amazon Gift CardMy Profile

  11. These sound amazing!!! I want!

  12. Tried the recipe and added the pretzels into the dough instead of the’ egg white dip and roll’ method. The dough turned out too dry to shape and I had to add more egg and butter to get it to the right consistancy to adhere to a ball. The end result was a yummy cookie but too crunchy and salty because of all the pretzels. Next time I would use half the pretzels if that. So make a note if you are planning adding the pretzels to the dough instead of rolling them in the dough before baking.

    • Oh good to know!! Thanks so much – I will add it into the notes. The first recipe I tried I did half with the pretzels in the dough but the dough was so dry it didn’t matter they were such a crumbly mess. Still a mess to make when rolling in the egg and pretzels but the taste made it worth it to me! ha ha

  13. Thanks for letting me include your recipe in my round-up of 60 Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipes on Taste As You Go!
    Michelle Rittler @ Taste As You Go recently posted…60 Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipes {and When It’s Time to End It}My Profile


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