For weeks, I’ve been pouring over cookie recipes, trying to find something worthy of taking my neighbor’s annual cookie exchange.
I’m pretty far from being a good baker. When cooking, I always play around with recipes and put my own spin on them. So following an exact recipe for baking is a strain for me — especially because I’ve not had the best of luck in the past. My brownies have turned out cakey instead of moist and chewy. My sugar cookies have spread out and run together, losing all shape.
I couldn’t let that happen for a special event. I had to step up my game a bit.
After way too much Pinteresting, I found That Skinny Chick Can Bake’s Turtle Thumbprint cookies recipe.
Note that the turtle thumbprint cookies made by That Skinny Chick, a.k.a. Liz Berg, are beautiful and round and showcase a perfect drop of caramel with a delicate drizzle of chocolate topping. (Seriously, go check those out!)
Mine are more of a series of blobs on top of each other, and they look more like indulgent pieces of candy than cookies. But they’ll do the trick, don’t you think?
The base recipe wasn’t terribly complicated, although the finishing stages were obviously a step past my skill level as a baker who’s fond of boxed mixes.
The dough ingredients:
- 1 stick of butter, softened
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 egg, separated into yolk and white
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup finely chopped pecans
The topping ingredients:
- 16 caramels, unwrapped
- 1 tablespoon milk
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, if desired
- 36 pecan halves, if desired
I used my stand mixer to combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, egg yolk and milk until it was creamed together. Then I added in the flour, cocoa powder and salt and beat the mixture on low until it combined into a thick dough.
I made two, roughly even balls of dough with the mixture, then rolled them out into 8″ logs, as directed, and set them onto plastic wrap. Next, I whisked the egg whites to get them frothy and brushed the logs, then rolled them in the chopped pecans for a thorough coating.
At this stage, the directions called for wrapping the logs in plastic wrap and chilling for 30 minutes. I used that break to clean up a bit and sit down for a little salad and a bowl of baked potato soup I made over the weekend. Killer stuff.
Once chilled, I cut the cookie dough into 36 pieces, as I was told to make sure to bring 3 dozen cookies — 2 dozen for exchanging and 1 dozen for eating. (Not a problem!)
The turtle thumbprint cookies bake at 350 degrees for only 10 minutes, so they finished up pretty quickly. They also don’t expand at all, so no need to worry about them running together on the baking sheet.
Soon afterward, I pressed each with a thumb to make room for filling.
As they cooled, I microwaved the caramels for about a minute and a half to get them sufficiently melty. And in rereading these ingredients, I realize that I left out the milk. Whoops! No wonder the caramel was hard to work with.
My attempt to drop the caramel onto the cookies using two spoons completely failed, because it all stuck onto the spoons like glue. So instead, I waited until the caramel cooled just enough for me to touch, and I formed small balls to press into each thumbprint.
Now, the original recipe poses a choice of topping the turtle thumbprint cookies with either a pecan half or a drizzle of chocolate. But I thought, why not do both?
I pressed pecans into the caramel topping on each cookie, then set about trying to figure out the chocolate. The directions called for melting chocolate chips in a baggie, cutting off the edge and using it as a piping bag.
After microwaving the chocolate chips for about a minute, the chocolate was goopy enough to spread. The first few turned out really beautifully, but the chocolate stopped coming out of the small hole. And I gave it a bit too much oomph, breaking the bag open wider and creating more of the “blob” effect.
Who cares about having too much chocolate on top of something, though, right? Hence, I carried on instead of trying to get fussy about it.
I hope these end up being tasty. I made exactly the amount I needed, so there was no extras to test out ugh! I also can’t wait to see what everyone else brings to the party.