Dulce de Leche and Nutella Thumbprints with Sea Salt.
I'm that girl. The one who can barely wait until after Thanksgiving dinner to crank UP the Christmas music. The one who pulls out the Christmas boxes the moment the Thanksgiving dishes are put away. The one who allows the kids to decorate the tree, then rearranges it after they've gone to bed. I can't help myself.
As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the year! How can anyone argue with such a classic song? It's a season of hope and new life. A season of forgiveness and peace. A season of thinking beyond yourself!
In effort to share this brimming holiday joy, I make batches, and BATCHES...and batches of cookies to share with our neighbors, friends, and family. This year I hope to share them all with you as well! I always stick with a few tried-and-true recipes, then branch out and experiment a little!
These cookies are one of my favorites. You just can't beat the delicate buttery texture of good shortbread cookies. In fact, I'm often tempted to think EVERY cookie should start as a shortbread cookie! Add caramel or chocolate-hazelnut, top them with sea salt...and you have something utterly addictive, a swear-worthy cookie!
Thumbprints are easy to make. Your kids will have a marvelous time rolling the balls and making the thumbprints. Yet make sure an adult adds the hot caramel and chocolate! You can find canned Dulce de Leche at large supermarkets (either in the international section or baking aisle) or at a Latin market.
Dulce de Leche and Nutella Thumbprints
4 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 lb.)
1 1/3 cups of sugar
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 - 13 oz. can Nestle La Lechera, Dulce de Leche (caramel)
1 small jar Nutella
Course sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour a little at a time, until it is just combined.
Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1 oz. balls—about 1 ½ tablespoons. Place them on the cookie sheets and make a deep indention in each cookie, with your thumb. Press any cracks back into place.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes. It will look like the craters have disappeared, but when the cookies cool, they’ll be back!
Scoop the Dulce de Leche into a quart-size freezer bag. Microwave it for 30-60 seconds until thin, like melted peanut butter. The bag may be hot, so wrap it in a small towel. Snip a hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze about 1 ½ tsp. of caramel into the centers of 24 cookies. Tap the cookies gently to help the caramel fill in the entire indention.
While the caramel is still a little tacky, sprinkle each cookie with course sea salt. Repeat this process with melted Nutella and the remaining 24 cookies.
Allow the Dulce de Leche and Nutella to cool for a little while before serving, so the centers can set.
*You could put them in the refrigerator to speed this up!
Makes about 4 dozen.