“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” -Harriet Van Horne
Pumpkin Caramel Thumbprints

Pumpkin Caramel Thumbprints

October is definitely my favorite baking month. It marks the beginning of baking season, fall, winter, and all those lovely months of snow and rain. The sun still shines in October (at least most of the time here in the Midwest) and there's something about the leaves turning and the crisp air that makes me want to hang out in the kitchen all day. 

I discovered this recipe from Joy the Baker. She is amazing! You should go read all of her recipes. I have altered the recipe slightly mainly because I don't like salt on my caramel. Call me crazy, but I am one of those people who doesn't like to combine savory and sweet flavors. Pretty sure I'm in the minority here, but I like my sweets to just be sweet. 

YIELD: About 30 cookies
ACTIVE TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 hours (including cooling time)


  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pastry flour


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


Mix butter, sugar, and salt with electric mixer until combined. 

Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. 

Add the flour and mix until combined. The dough will be soft and wet.

Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking. Don't skip this step as the butter needs to cool before popping these in the oven. (It will also make it easier to roll into balls.)

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper, leaving space between each cookie. Press your thumb into each cookie to create a pool for the caramel. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should be lightly browned. 

*Note: the center of these cookies may puff back up during baking (mine did!) so you will have to re-press the centers to create the caramel pool. It may be useful to use a spoon to do this so that you don't burn your fingers (but it is easier to do this if the cookies are still warm). 

Allow cookies to cool on wire rack

For the pumpkin caramel: bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to boil over medium head. Stir constantly. 

Boil gently, uncovered, until browned. Once browned to a medium amber color, which should take about 5-7 minutes, remove from the heat.

Immediately add heavy cream and butter and stir as it foams up.

Stir in spices and pumpkin puree. Caramel might seem thin, but it will thicken after it spends some time in the fridge. 

Transfer to a small bowl. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours before assembling the cookies.

Carefully spoon the caramel into the center of each cookie.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

*A note about transporting these cookies. They cannot be stacked upon one another, so make sure to lay them flat in tupperware if you plan on taking them out of the house. 

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