Chocolate turtle cookies

This "thumbprint" fudgy, nutty cookie with a caramel center is perfect for holiday parties.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
Combine all the flavors of a candy turtle – chocolate, pecans, and caramel – into a simple cookie for your holiday cookie platter.

I love "thumbprint" cookies for holiday parties.  They're cute, little, and tasty. I was already making Peanut Butter Chocolate Kiss Cookies for my dessert party so I went with this as a different cookie option. Instead of Hershey Kisses in the middle of the cookie, this held a well of caramel. Caramel, chocolate, and toasted almonds (or pecans) – you can't really go wrong with this combination. I made the dough ahead of time and completed the steps of rolling the cookie dough balls in the egg white and chopped nuts then making the well in the center.  After that I put them in freezer bags and stashed them in the freezer until baking time.  

Let me just say this cookie is a good reason I can't stop trying out new recipes. Even though I have a veritable treasure trove of tried and true cookie recipes, you just never know when you're going to discover another gem. And this is a gem. I'm so glad I found it and tried it because it's going to have a regular place in my holiday baking from now on. This is a seriously good cookie.

The texture is like a chewy, fudgy cookie, the nuts provide a nice crunch and the caramel was divine. Seriously. Plus they're cute, right? My only issue with it is my cookies spread more than I would've liked even though I baked them from frozen dough and on the convection setting in my oven. There wasn't a "well" for the caramel as much as a "little dip."  I did re-impress the center with a half teaspoon to make it more well-like but the cookie still had a little spread.  But that's not enough of an issue to stop me from making these again (and again). I will just need to play with the ingredients a bit to see if I can have it spread less, perhaps add a smidge more cocoa.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

From Pixelated Crumb

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/4 cups pecans, chopped fine

14 soft caramel candies

3 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg whites in bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using 1/2-teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball. Bake until set, about 12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.

Microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently re-press existing indentations. Fill each with 1/2 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. 

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