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If you love the turtle flavor combination of chocolate, pecans, and caramel, this Turtle Thumbprint Cookies recipe was made for YOU!
I’m so excited that the Christmas cookie baking season is in full swing.
There’s nothing I love more than baking cookies while listening to Christmas music!
These cookies are the ultimate turtle treat and are crunchy, gooey, and rich without being cloyingly sweet.
Perfect for your Christmas parties and potlucks, and so cute and unusual for your Christmas cookie platters, these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies are a total crowd-pleaser.
How to Make Turtle Thumbprint Cookies
What Type of Cocoa Powder is Best For Turtle Thumbprint Cookies?
- Use unsweetened cocoa powder in these cookies (also known as natural cocoa powder).
- I recommend using high-quality cocoa because most grocery store brands only contain a low percentage of fat.
- Higher fat content in cocoa is what lends a rich, decadent chocolate flavor, with the best texture.
- You can learn more about natural vs Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder here.
- Read more about fat in cocoa powders here.
Flaky Salt on Your Caramel
If you’re into the salty-sweet flavor combination, then sprinkle cookies with a little flaky sea salt right after filling with caramel. I love the way the salt elevates the turtle flavors, and it also helps cut the sweetness of the caramel! You can usually find Fleur de Sel at your grocery store, or you can grab it on Amazon here. If you don’t prefer the salty-sweet combo, feel free to skip this step.
What Baking Sheet is Best for Turtle Thumbprint Cookies?
A light-colored aluminum half-sheet pan is my favorite for baking cookies. Avoid dark nonstick pans altogether, they brown too much and may burn the bottoms of your cookies. This is particularly important for dark-colored cookies like these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies, as it can be harder to tell visually when these are done baking.
Can I Make This Turtle Thumbprint Cookie Recipe With a Hand Mixer?
Yes! A hand mixer will work just as well as a stand mixer.
Can I Double This Recipe?
Sure! Double every ingredient to make about 48 cookies.
How to Store Turtle Thumbprint Cookies
Store Turtle Thumbprint Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Store cookies with a tortilla, apple wedge, or piece of bread to keep them soft a little longer.
More Christmas Recipes:
- Christmas Brownies
- Loaded Peanut Butter Christmas Cookie Bars
- Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
- Hot Cocoa Cookies
- Chai Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies
Be sure to check out my Christmas Headquarters page for more holiday baking recipes!
For the Cookies:
- 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
- 2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, separated
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (127 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (113 grams) pecans, finely chopped
For the Caramel Thumbprint:
- 16 unwrapped caramel squares
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream
Fleur de sel, or other flaked sea salt, for sprinkling, optional
For the Chocolate Drizzle:
- 1/2 cup (85 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
For the cookies:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until well combined and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract. Reserve the egg white in a separate container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix just until combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, or until the dough is chilled and firm.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lightly beat the reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Dip each ball in the egg white, then roll in the pecans, pressing lightly to coat well. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down the center of each ball with your thumb.
- Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until set. Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let cool until just warm. While the cookies are still warm, press down the center of each cookie again with your thumb or the opposite end of a wooden spoon.
For the caramel:
- While the cookies are baking, combine the caramel squares and cream in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into each thumbprint. Sprinkle the caramel with Fleur de sel to taste. Let cool completely.
For the chocolate drizzle:
- In a small heat-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and oil in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Remove the chocolate to a small zip-top baggie and cut a small hole in one corner. Pipe the chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate set before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated with new photos, weight measurements, and other recipe improvements. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.