Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

“Turtle” is my favorite flavor.  Is turtle a flavor? That classic chocolate, pecan, and caramel combination…. Mmm….

As far as candy goes, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has my favorite version.  They have these big dark chocolate things filled with pecans and gooey caramel–just the right amount of gooey, not so soft that the caramel just drips out like the turtle things at the grocery store, and not too hard that it hurts your jaw to chew.  I LOVE them.  They’re my favorite.

As far as turtle cookies go, THESE are the best.  These cookies are fantastic.  It’s a dark chocolate cookie–a really good, rich one, with lots of chocolate flavor–covered in chopped pecans and caramel, and just a little bit of sea salt.  They are the BOMB. (Is that a thing people still say? I’m using slang from the 90s, y’all, that’s how good these cookies are.)  The first time I made them, I think I ate 9.  That’s a whole other issue.



I got this recipe (and have added a homemade caramel) from The Kitchen is My Playground, and you can find that recipe here. I think the original recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen, so let’s all take a moment to silently thank those geniuses for the brilliance that is the Turtle Thumbprint Cookie.

Here’s how it works.  You mix up the cookie dough, creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the egg yolks (you’ll save the whites for later) and milk.  Then you’ll add the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, and salt, which you’ve mixed all together.

Once it’s all come together, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for an hour. (You can get away with 30 minutes, if you need to.)

Pull it out of the fridge, and divide the dough into 6 wedges.  Roll each wedge into a log, then divide into 5 equal (ish) pieces.  (I mean, I didn’t measure, is what I’m saying, but you’ll want them to be as close to equal as you can. Weigh them out if that’s your jam.) Roll each piece into a ball.

Dip in beaten egg white. Roll in chopped pecans. Place on your tray.

I didn’t get a picture of this step but it’s important! Before they go in the oven, make a small indent with a small measuring spoon (doesn’t super matter how big–I’ve used a tablespoon and it worked fine, or the original recipe calls for a 1/2 teaspoon).  THIS IS IMPORTANT! PAY ATTENTION TO THIS!

Then bake for 12 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, re-press the indents (the cookies will have risen a bit).  Choose whatever you’re method you’re using to make the caramel, and spoon the caramel into each indent.  Top with sea salt.  Allow to cool a bit before devouring.


So, for the caramel.  Here’s the thing.  The original recipe calls for store-bought caramels mixed with cream, which is pretty standard for caramel in baking, and it tastes great.  I’m not knocking it. If you’re looking to do that, microwave 14 caramel candies (the little square ones) and 3 T cream for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.

What I am saying is that I recently learned how to make caramel with sugar, butter, and cream, and let me tell you, that flavor is so smooth and real and it’s so much better than the store bought stuff.  It a little labor intensive, but it doesn’t take very long, and it’s GOOD.  That recipe is based off of this recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce from Sally’s Baking Addiction, which is LIQUID GOLD.

If you’re braving the caramel, here’s how it goes.  Be warned, this isn’t a recipe you can walk away from. You’ve got to keep it moving continuously.

Get all of your ingredients (sugar, cream, butter cut into chunks) ready beforehand. You have to be ready to add them the second it’s time.

Put 1 c. of dry white sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring out a rubber spatula, and keep it constantly moving, scraping all of the sides. After a few minutes, it’s going to start to clump, and then it’s going to start to melt.

Once the sugar is all melted (and not a minute later), drop in the chunks of cold butter, and mix it continuously until it’s melted.  As soon as the butter is melted, slowly add the cream, mixing continuously while it goes in. Once it’s all in, and it’s coming together, leave it to boil until it reaches 255 degrees F, stirring occasionally and scraping the sides so it doesn’t burn.

Once the caramel hits that temperature, take it off the stove.  As you’re spooning it into the cookies, try not to scrape the sides, which tend to be a little hotter than the rest of the caramel.  

Enjoy! Love this recipe! Send pics!

When you give this a shot and love it, be sure to tag your pictures #mrsmabeycooks.

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 30


  • Cookies:
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 8 T (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1 egg, separated, plus 1 additional egg white
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c chopped pecans
  • Sea salt for topping
  • Caramel:
  • 1 c sugar
  • 6 T cold butter, divided into tablespoons
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • OR
  • 14 caramel candies
  • 3 T heavy cream


  1. Cream together softened butter and sugar. Once it's light and fluffy, beat in egg yolk and milk. Add vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
  3. Add flour mixture to wet mixture until just combined (don't overmix!)
  4. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.
  5. Divide dough into 30 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and dip in beaten egg whites, then chopped pecans. Place each coated piece on tray.
  6. Press an indent with a measuring spoon into each cookie.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven, then re-press the indent in each cookie.
  9. Prepare the caramel: either follow the instructions below OR microwave 14 caramel candies with 3 T heavy cream for about 2 minutes, or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.
  10. Heat 1 c of dry white sugar over medium high heat in a medium saucepan, stirring and scraping the sides constantly with a rubber spatula, until the sugar is completely melted.
  11. As soon as the sugar is completely melted, immediately add cold butter, whisking constantly until melted.
  12. Continue to whisk while slowly adding heavy cream.
  13. Once all the cream is and the mixture has come together, allow to boil until the mixture reaches 255 degrees Farenheit, stirring occasionally.
  14. Spoon hot caramel into the indent in each cookie.
  15. Top with just a sprinkle of sea salt.