We’ve had fun in our kitchens playing with arguably the most delicious treat fall has to offer us- The Butternut Squash.
We’ve boiled and pureed them into a delightfully, creamy soup.
We’ve roasted them till caramelized and mashed them into a filling to stuff our soft pillows of ravioli.
And now my friends, it’s time to visit the sweeter side of this savory vegetable. We’re talking, thumbprint cookies with dollops of sweet and spicy butternut squash caramel. Adapted from one of my favorite food bloggers we make our own home made caramel, mix it with the traditional cream and butter then spike it with some roasted butternut squash puree and pumpkin pie spice.
We’re using Butternut squash in place of pumpkin because it’s sweet, buttery and frankly it’s what I had on hand at the time. A lesson on being your own chef- use what you got and make it happen BABY!
Let’s roll up our sleeves and make that caramel!
In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and cook over medium heat. Do not stir it with a spoon, do not touch it….JUST DON’T DO IT!
Instead, as you bring the mixture to a gentle boil swirl the mixture around by moving the pan as needed. The point of this is to make sure the melted sugar is doing so evenly without ruining the crystallization. With a watchful eye, eventually you will get a deep amber colored caramel, ready for mix ins!
Take the caramel off the heat and carefully add the butter and cream. The caramel will magically come alive as it foams and sizzles. Don’t be alarmed, it’s the nature of their relationship- just let it happen.
Stir together with a wooden spoon. Once the excitement subsides you can stir in our secret ingredients- butternut squash and pumpkin pie spice. Once thoroughly combined, transfer the caramel to a small glass container, I used a mason jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
The caramel will thicken as it cools and become a really nice gooey texture to dollop atop of our thumbprint cookies. Speaking of which lets make those buttery delights.
These cookies are a simple shortbread cookie. Light, buttery shortbread…oh how I love thee!
Butter and sugars are creamed and whipped to a fluffy state then vanilla and eggs are added to loosen it up. All that’s left is to add some flour to stiffen the dough which will still be sticky. Never fear, a little time in the refrigerator should do the trick!
When ready to bake, scoop the cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet and be sure to space them at least 2 inches apart. They tend to spread a little as they bake and we want each cookie to keep to themselves.
Before popping into the oven, use your thumb to leave an indentation in the center of each cookie dough ball then bake for about 8-11 minutes. As the cookies bake they may inflate the center that you so carefully created with your thumb. No worries, for you just use the back of a spoon, I used a measuring spoon to gently press down the center of each baked cookie so we have a little nest for the caramel to go.
Once cooled, spoon your cooled caramel into the cookie pockets, serve and enjoy alongside your favorite fall drink!
I personally enjoyed with a cup of freshly brewed, STRONG coffee, but I would imagine these would go well with a chai tea latte or cappuccino or even some hot cider!
Whatever you choose, be prepared to fall head over heals in love with these delights as you lose yourself in the flavors that fall is all about. Caramel, spice, and everything squash!
Hope you had fun this week! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below of some other flavors you want to savor in the coming months. I guarantee I will be hard at work bringing you another series like this soon…especially with the holidays around the corner!
LOVE YOU GUYS!
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- For the Butternut Squash Caramel:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- Powdered sugar and coarse sea salt for sprinkling.
- For the cookies:
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together, on medium speed, the sugar and butter until it’s nice and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat into the butter mixture until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the flour and beat until it is well combined. You should have a wet, sticky dough.
- Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour before baking. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- When ready to bake, on parchment lined baking sheets, scoop 1 inch cookie dough balls, set 2 inches apart. Take your thumb and create an indentation in the center of each cookie.
- Bake the cookies for about 8-11 minutes or until the bottoms of each cookie are lightly golden brown. Take them out and set the tray on a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before moving directly to the cooling rack.
- Should the cookies puff up during the baking process, take the back of a spoon and press in the center of each cookie to recreate the indentation so the caramel has a place to settle.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely before spooning in the caramel.
- For the Caramel:
- In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and place on a stove burner that is on medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, swirling the pan around to stir as needed. Do not use a spoon to stir.
- Depending on how well your burner’s work, it could take anywhere from 5-15 minutes to get the caramel to that deep amber color. This is where it’s important to keep both eyes on the target as it bubbles and caramelizes. Once it starts to turn brown it goes very quickly from caramel to burnt sugar.
- Once browned take the caramel off the heat and immediately add the butter and cream. Using a wooden spoon, stir the foaming, bubbly caramel till completely incorporated. Add in the squash and pumpkin pie spice and stir until it’s a homogenous mixture.
- Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The caramel will thicken as it cools making it that perfect consistency.
- Spoon the caramel in the center of each cookie.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and finish with salt.