Caramel Pretzel Thumbprints

dsc_0206RECIPE #415, DAY #580


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprints,” from Food Network Magazine, December 2012*

TIMING: 1 1/2 hours or more, with all the cooling and waiting

DIFFICULTY: Honestly, difficult. Would be easier with a more cooperative dough

TOOLS: Baking sheets, cooking rack, mixer, etc.


HEALTH: I am a little tired of saying the same thing for all desserts, but cookies are cookies. Most of them are not health foods. These ones are not health food. They are full of fat, sugar, and refined flour. Full of it.dsc_0207

EXPERIENCE: People liked these. I was disappointed. I was disappointed in the dough as far as making thumbprints was concerned, and I was disappointed in how they tasted. I wanted so much more.

I suppose, as I said to the group of ladies standing around eating these, that I am always trying to get to the taste profile of a Take 5, whatever dessert I am making. That is a slight oversimplification, but I really have been looking for a dessert with the magical combination of chocolate, pretzel, peanut, and caramel. Really, with some awesome ingredients and dark chocolate, I even think we could improve on the Take 5.

I think. Because, for better or worse, all experiments toward achieving that end have failed. And this, really, was another one. (Yes, I know that they had neither chocolate nor peanut, but I thought that could be added later based on the results of this recipe.) I found the taste lackluster. And, as alluded to earlier, the dough was hard to thumbprint and did not maintain its shape when baked, which is crucial here.

NOTES: I would definitely consider making these with a tried and true peanut butter cookie recipe. Also, making my own caramel sauce. Then drizzling with dark chocolate. That might do it.


  1. Set 1 3/4 cups pretzels on a rimmed baking sheet and crush, leaving sizable pieces. Spread out evenly and set aside.
  2. Grind 3/4 cup pretzels into coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  4. In your stand mixer, beat together 1 cup softened unsalted butter with 2/3 cup granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high for 5 minutes until fluffy.
  5. Add the egg yolk mixture and beat until incorporated. On low, add 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour and the pretzel crumbs, just until combined.
  6. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and drop onto the tray of pretzel pieces. Gently press them into the pieces so that they are a little flat. Push your thumb in the middle to make a sizable divet which will hold gooey liquid.
  7. Move the cookies–with pretzel pieces clinging to the bottom–on a baking sheet and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325F.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Re-indent with a spoon, if necessary. Move to cooling racks and cool completely.
  9. Fill thumbprints with caramel sauce or dulce de leche. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt when ready to serve (or at least when the caramel has firmed a bit).


Serve with milk or hot tea and an episode of Downton Abbey or The Crown.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: These will keep for several days in a sealed container at room temperature.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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