Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel

I have been eyeing this recipe for a long time and I realized that I had extra coconut from the Backpack Cookies I made the other week, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make them. These Coconut Thumbprint Cookies would be even better with homemade salted caramel, but if you need something easy, the store-bought caramel candies work great. The toasted coconut really brings me back to Hawaii or a tropical island. For those not going anywhere for spring break and want to feel like you are staying in the tropics with 30 degree weather outside your home, then I definitely recommend these!

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

12 oz sweetened flaked coconut

44 small soft caramel candies, such as Kraft

6 T heavy cream

Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I was totally shocked for a quick second about how much butter is in these cookies. I did a double take when I was looking at the list of ingredients. It is best to not think too much about it because the butter is what makes them so good! I usually forget to let my ingredients sit out on the counter to get to room temperature, so I usually zap the butter in the microwave for 8 seconds or so to soften it. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, and then add the sugar. Recipes always say to beat the butter and sugar at the same time, but I prefer to get the butter whipped up first to make sure it is creamy. After you beat in the sugar, add the vanilla. 

Gradually add the flour and salt at a low speed, so you don’t get flour everywhere. I always manage to get it all over the counter anyways. My husband laughs at the kitchen after I bake because it is usually quite a mess. This is very unlike me, but I can never keep all of the ingredients in the measuring cups or bowls without something flying out. You all just normally see the pretty parts. Once it is all combined, prepare the dipping bowls.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl and pour the coconut in a larger bowl. I didn’t use all of the coconut, so I recommend just pouring about half at first and see how much you use. To make it easier on myself, I first rolled the dough into 1-1/4 inch balls and placed them in an empty bowl. It was easier to do it that way, so I wouldn’t get my eggy coconut fingers in the dough. Once you have made all of the dough balls, dip each one into the beaten eggs and then roll in coconut. The next step is to create the thumbprint. Martha Stewart makes it seem so easy. She said to put the ball of dough on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and use your thump to create an indentation. As soon as I did this, the dough crumbled apart. The crumbly dough makes it delicious to eat, but it isn’t very easy to shape. I found it easier to keep the ball of dough in my coconut bowl and then create the indentation. I was able to maintain the shape a lot better to then transfer to the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes and continue to make the rest of the batches of cookies. I only could make about 3 dozen cookies, but it all depends on the size of the dough balls. After 10 minutes, take the cookie sheet out of the oven and use the back of a 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon to recreate the thumbprint. The recipe said to re-press the indentations, but I didn’t feel it was wise to use my finger on a hot cookie. Bake for another 9 to 10 minutes or until golden. Let cool on wire racks.

I waited until the cookies were all made before I made the caramel. The caramel will quickly melt off the cookies if you add it when the cookies are still hot. Add the caramels and heavy cream in a saucepan over low heat. Melt the caramels while stirring constantly for about 4 to 6 minutes. Use a spoon to pour the caramel into the indentations and sprinkle with sea salt as you go. If the caramel hardens, heat it up again. The sea salt is a perfect balance to the sweetness of the caramel, so it is best to not skip this step.

If you do not eat these cookies right away, they are delicious to eat after heating them up in the microwave for a few seconds. This makes the caramel extra soft and the cookies warm and crumbly. These would be great for Easter because they look like little bird nests. Happy almost spring!