Dulce de leche thumbprints.

Dulce de leche thumbprints. Credit: Randee Daddona

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup pecans, toasted and finely ground (using a food processor)

1/2 cup dulce de leche

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Edible gold stars or coarse gold sanding sugar from a craft store

1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to incorporate. Add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the pecans. Cover and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. With floured hands, roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch round balls. Place on baking sheets at least 1 inch apart. Use your finger or a rounded measuring spoon to make an indent in the center of each ball.

4. Bake until bottoms are brown and set, 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

5. Place the dulce de leche in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until just loose and warm, 10 to 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of dulce de leche into indent of each cookie. Let stand until caramel is set, 15 to 30 minutes.

6. Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl and microwave until 75 percent melted. Whisk until smooth. Dip a fork into melted chocolate, then wave back and forth over cookies to decorate. Sprinkle the edible gold stars over the chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

Makes about 32 cookies. Recipe by Lauren Chattman.

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