With a little pumpkin pie in each bite and a complex ending due to a sprinkle of fleur de sel, each little cookies is a pleasant reminder of the holidays to come.
Salted Pumpkin Caramel Thumbprints
Recipe adapted from Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light-color corn syrup
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
Fleur de sel
Thumbprints: in a large mixing bowl beat 2/3 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in flour. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Press thumb, or a measuring spoon coated in cooking spray, into the center of each ball. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. If cookie centers puff during baking, repress with the back of the spoon. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
Salted Pumpkin Caramel: place granulated sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling over medium heat, swirling the pan to stir. Boil gently, uncovered, until browned. Once sugar has browned to a medium amber color, cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, then remove from heat. Immediately add cream and 2 tablespoons butter. Mixture will boil and foam. Stir well. Add the spices and pumpkin and stir well to incorporate. (Caramel may seem thin-that's OK.) Place in a bowl. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Spoon into cooled cookies; sprinkle with flour de sel.
*Notes: It will take awhile (at least 5-10 minutes) for the sugar mixture to turn amber. Then you continue to cooke the mixture for another 5 minutes. If you don't let the caramelization fully take place, the pumpkin taste will be a bit stronger. I did not cook my caramel as long as I should have. I am looking forward to making them again and pulling the nuance of the caramel flavor out more in the cookie.