Spiced dulce de leche thumbprint cookies

I always think of thumbprint cookies as a childhood cooking right of passage. I remember school holidays filled with baking batches of thumbprints filled with any kind of jam we could find in the pantry. Come December every year, I go into full cookie-baking mode and these easy dulce de leche thumbprint cookies just scream the festive season. Although to be honest, I make these year-round, because I love them so much. The warmth of cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves, with the gooeyness of a puddle of dulce de leche on top. Sign me up!

spiced dulce de leche thumbprints dusted with icing sugar on a copper cooling rack

What you are going to love about this dulce de leche cookie recipe

These are easy Christmas thumbprint cookies to get the kids cooking in the kitchen over the festive season. It has serious bang for your buck Christmas flavour. Prepare to get in the Christmas spirit! Ps, they also make a great homemade Christmas gift. Just pop them in an airtight jar for gifting all through the festive season.

It’s quick, easy and has oodles of flavour. A buttery, deliciously spiced shortbread base with a dollop of caramel on top. Aside from the resting time, it’s an easy dulce de leche cookie recipe that can be made in 30 minutes flat. You can’t go wrong. Winner!

You get to lick the dulce de leche off the spoon at the end?! Always a bonus with a caramel thumbprint cookie. I promise not to tell!

What you need

  • Unsalted Butter – I always use unsalted butter when baking. It gives you more control over the amount of salt in the end result.

  • Pantry staples – white sugar, sea salt flakes, all purpose flour.

  • Vanilla extract. You could also substitute vanilla bean paste or a scraped vanilla bean. all will work equally well. If you do use a vanilla bean, don’t forget to place the scraped bean in a jar of sugar. Within two weeks you’ll have the most aromatic vanilla sugar for all your festive baking!

  • Fresh Eggs – I usually use an approx 65g egg for all my baking,

  • Christmas spice blend (recipe below)

  • A jar of Dulce de leche

Christmas spice blend

A spice blend for adding a little hint of Christmas spice to your festive baking

  • 5 tbsp cinnamon (ground)
  • 1 tsp cloves (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (ground)
  • 1 tsp cardamon (ground)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (ground)

Pop all ingredients into a preserving jar and shake to combine. 

What’s dulce de leche?

As if sweetened condensed milk couldn’t get any better! It’s a kind of caramel made by cooking condensed milk for a long period of time till it caramelizes. Seriously, just grab a spoon, and eat this stuff straight out of the jar! When you are looking for dulce de leche in-store, make sure to hunt down a good, authentic version. They are normally made in Spain or Latin America. I use Havanna dulce de leche available from Essential Ingredient stores.

Equipment you’ll need

A hand mixer or stand mixer is ideal to cream the butter and sugar. You’ll also need a prepared baking sheet (or two) to bake the cookies on. I always line my baking sheets with a Silpat baking mat. I’ve used Siplpat’s for years. I find they bake cookies more evenly, and you are less likely to get crispy bottoms from cooking directly onto a hot baking sheet.

The nitty gritty

  1. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix on a medium speed for 1-2 minutes until creamy.


  2. Add egg and vanilla extract. Again, mix on a medium speed for 1-2 minutes until combined.


  3. Add spices, salt, almond meal, and flour to the cookie dough. Mix and combine all ingredients together at the lowest speed for 30 seconds. We are looking for a sticky dough, but it shouldn’t stick to your hand when rolling together in your hands.


  4. Scoop out dough with a cookie scoop and pop into your hands roughly one teaspoon of dough. Roll together into a ball and place on a tray or Silpat. Make sure there is sufficient space between dough balls. Make a well in the center of each cookie by pressing something round into its center. This will also cause the dough to spread and shape into cookies. Refrigerate for 1 hour


  5. Preheat oven to 160°c


  6. Remove cookies from the fridge and bake for 10 minutes.


  7. Remove from the oven and scoop (or pipe) dollops of dulce de leche into each cookie well.


  8. Return the spiced dulce de leche thumbprint cookies to the oven and bake for a further 3-4 minutes until the dulce de leche has melted into a puddle. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely on the baking sheet.


Can I freeze the cookie dough for later?

Hell yes! I roll it into balls and freeze in an airtight container for up to a month. If you are short on space, try rolling the dough into a large logs/sausages. To freeze into logs just pop a sheet of glad wrap on the bench about 40cm long. Spoon out cookie dough into a rough log on the glad wrap, making sure to leave a good 7-ish cm free on each end to tie off. Fold one side of the wrap over the dough. Roll over the remaining wrap to create a cookie dough log. Roll beneath both hands until the log is uniform in shape. Tie off the end wrap into knots. This dough can then be frozen for up to a month or left in the fridge for a week.

Spiced dulce de leche thumbprints on a copper cooling rack dusted in icing sugar
close up with a bit taken out of the cookie

More recipes to get you in the festive spirit…

Now pop on a pot of tea, give these thumbprints with dulce de leche a dusting of pure icing sugar and make sure you serve these ones right through the festive season.

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Spiced dulce de leche thumbprints on a copper cooling rack dusted in icing sugar

Spiced dulce de leche thumbprints

  • Author: Emma Lee
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 20 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: German, Latin American

Description

These spiced dulce de leche thumbprint cookies just scream the festive season. The warmth of cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, and ginger and the gooeyness of a puddle of dulce de leche on top.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 120 g butter (unsalted, at room temperature)
  • 70 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 tsp christmas spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 g almond meal
  • 120 g plain flour
  • jar of dulce de leche

    Christmas Spice Blend

  • 5 tbsp cinnamon (ground)
  • 1 tsp cloves (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (ground)
  • 1 tsp cardamon (ground)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (ground)
    Combine all spices in a jar a shake to combine

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix on a medium speed for 1-2 minutes until creamy.
  2. Add egg and vanilla extract. Again, mix on a medium speed for 1-2 minutes until combined.
  3. Add spices, salt, almond meal and flour. Mix and combine all ingredients together on the lowest speed for 30 seconds. We are looking for a sticky dough, but it shouldn’t stick to your hand when rolling together in your hands.
  4. Scoop out dough into your hands roughly one teaspoon of dough. Roll together into a ball and place on a tray or Silpat. Make sure there is sufficient space between dough balls. Make a well in the center of each cookie by pressing something round into its center. This will also cause the dough to spread and shape into cookies. Refridgerate for 1 hour
  5. Preheat oven to 160°c
  6. Remove cookies from the fridge and bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and scoop (or pipe) dollops of dulce de leche into each cookie well.
  8. Return to the oven and bake for a further 3-4 minutes until the dulce de leche has melted into a puddle. Remove from oven and leave to cool on the baking tray.

Notes

  • I use the back of a round measuring spoon, however, you could use anything that shape.
  • For a bit of festiveness, dust with a little pure icing sugar

Keywords: Christmas Baking, Dulce de leche

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