This Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies with Cardamom Orange Caramel recipe deserves a spot on your cookie tray this holiday season. It's melt in your mouth buttery and spiked with aromatic cardamom and orange caramel sauce.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 2/3 cup sugar. With the stand mixer running on low, add in the vanilla extract and salt. Next, add in the flour slowly and mix until the mixture comes together to one big dough ball.
Place coarse sugar in a shallow dish and set aside.
Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and use clean hands to shape 1-inch balls. Roll the ball in the coarse sugar until completely coated and transfer the dough balls to the prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
Use a wine cork or your clean thumb to press a small indentation into each dough ball. Transfer to the freeze and let chill for at least 10 minutes (this will make sure the cookies don't spread too much while baking).
Bake for 14 - 18 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Remove from oven and use the cork to press down on the indent again if it puffed up while baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
While the cookies are baking, combine the brown sugar, cardamom, and unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Once boiling, continue to cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and orange extract. Set aside.
Pour the caramel sauce into the indents of the cookie and sprinkle with a tiny bit of coarse sea salt.