Brown Butter Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprint Cookies.
I love these cookies and I know you will too. They are worth the effort to make.
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 baking issues.
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. Of the following year.
Thumbprint cookies are always a holiday classic, made many ways. Different flavors and fillings. These thumbprint cookies are perfect for those who adore the salty-sweet combination as much as I do.
These start off with browned butter. I love using browned butter in cookies. It adds more depth of flavor and a nuttiness that works so well in these cookies. Browning butter is easy to do. I use a wide saucepan and stir until I see brown flecks at the bottom of the pan after the butter has melted and started to foam. It goes from brown to burnt quickly so keep a close eye on the butter while you brown it. Transfer from the pan to a bowl to help cool it down quickly and prevent burning.
I have always been a fan of salted caramel. I cheat a little with these cookies and use a jarred salted caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s. Its so good in these cookies, also amazing on vanilla ice cream. Yum!
Normally I would make caramel sauce from scratch like the original recipe stated. Caramel sauce is tricky and can go from good to burnt quickly. I didn’t feel like risking burning butter and caramel so I went the safe route here. If you want to make caramel sauce from scratch go ahead.
I figured with how busy the holidays are, a few shortcuts here and there with store bought items to make baking go faster is fine with me.
A few notes about these brown butter salted caramel pretzel thumbprint cookies first:
- Read all the instructions carefully. Have all your ingredients ready to go
- Prep time is approximate. Give yourself plenty of time to make these
- Browning butter is easy but it can go from brown to burnt quickly. Don’t leave the butter to melt then come back to a burnt mess. Whisk the entire time and watch for color changes. Remove from pan to a bowl or measuring cup so it doesn’t cook further
- You can omit the extra salt on top and use pretzels without salt if you want to keep the salt content down. Even with how much salt there is, these really aren’t a salty cookie
- You can make the dough ahead of time and chill. Thaw at room temp so they are soft enough to roll out
- Once baked the cookies keep well at room temperature for a few days in an airtight container, a few months frozen. Also in an airtight container or bag. I would thaw a little if frozen before eating, the caramel will harden when frozen.
- 2 ½ sticks butter, browned and cooled (unsalted butter)
- 2 tbsp good quality bourbon, such as makers mark
- 2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
- 1/3 c granulated sugar
- 1/3 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
- 2 1/2 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
- 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. The butter will go from browned to burnt fast so keep a close eye on it as you are stirring.
- Whisk the flour and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
- 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.
- Mix in the flour on low. The mixture should resemble wet sand
- 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
- 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.
- Whip the egg white in a small bowl until foamy
- Preheat oven to 350 deg. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment or silicone bake mats
- 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
- 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
- Once all the cookies are cooled, fill the middles with salted caramel sauce and sprinkle some sea salt flakes on top.
If you adore thumbprint cookies as much as I do, along with salty, sweet, crunchy, you will love these brown butter salted caramel pretzel thumbprint cookies.