These Healthier Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookie are deliciously gooey and great for the holidays! This recipe will show you an easy, budget-friendly shortcut to making your own dulce de leche. They're the perfect accompaniment to paleo thumbprint shortbread cookies - creating a heavenly sweet and salty treat!
I've always been too intimidated to make caramel or dulce de leche until one of my Instagram followers told me a shortcut using sweetened condensed milk! Caramel and dulce de leche can usually be used interchangeably. Caramel is made by cooking sugar over high heat until brown and caramelized. Meanwhile, dulce de leche, which translates to "sweet milk", is made by slowly heating sugar and milk together. A great shortcut is to use condensed milk, which is - you guessed it - sugar and milk! Put the whole can into the slow cooker and let it cook - you'll be left with a thick and luscious dulce de leche with minimal effort required.
Believe me when I say these Healthier Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies are heavenly! Start with the shortbread cookie base - they're paleo, gluten-free, refined-sugar free, and absolutely delicious. They're soft and not too sweet, which pairs well with the sticky sweet dulce de leche. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt over the top adds crunch and salty contrast to the cookies. So good and yet so easy!
how to make to these healthier dulce de leche thumbprint cookies
- Sweetened condensed milk: All you need to make great dulce de leche.
- Egg: Room temp eggs are best for baking because they'll mix into the batter more evenly.
- Maple syrup: My favorite unrefined sweetener!
- Vanilla extract
- Coconut oil: Adds moisture and fat.
- Almond flour: Using almond flour makes the cookies gluten-free, grain-free, and paleo!
- Arrowroot starch: Helps lighten the texture in grain-free baked goods.
- Baking powder
- Flaky sea salt: For topping.
cooking the healthier dulce de leche thumbprint cookies
dulce de leche
Start by making the dulce de leche - this will take a few hours so it's best to plan ahead. It also stores well so feel free to make it days in advance. First, remove the paper wrapper and place the can into the slow cooker. Cover completely with water, place the lid on, and cook on High for 4 hours. Alternatively, you can also cook on Low for 8-10 hours. Remove some water and use oven mitts or a towel to remove the can (it'll be hot!). Let cool for at least 15 minutes and then carefully open (it'll "explode" a little from the pressure). Pour into a heat-proof bowl and whisk until smooth, adding hot water to thin out if needed. Set aside.
To start making the cookies, whisk together the egg and maple syrup until homogenous, then stir in vanilla extract and melted coconut oil. Make sure the coconut oil has cooled (but hasn't solidified) before mixing it in.
Next, combine almond flour, arrowroot starch, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Mix well, then add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Place the bowl into the fridge.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or a silicone mat. Once the oven has finished preheating, remove the bowl from the fridge and use a cookie scooper or spoon to roll 1½ tablespoon of dough into balls. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Use a small round spoon (I used a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon) to gently press into the middle of the cookies, creating "thumbprint" craters. Place back into the oven to bake for 5 minutes more. Let cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack. Use a spoon to drizzle some dulce de leche into the craters, then top with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Enjoy!
more must-try recipes
Looking for more delicious baked goods? Check these recipes out!
- Caramel Apple Popcorn
- Hot Cocoa Cookies
- Lemon Chia Seed Muffins
- Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins
- Healthy Apple Chai Bars
If you try the recipe, please take a snapshot and share it with me on Instagram by tagging @balancewithjess or #balancewithjess. I love seeing your re-creations!
Healthier Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies
- Slow cooker
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup maple syrup *
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil cooled slightly
- 1½ cups almond flour
- 2 tablespoon arrowroot starch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Flaky sea salt for topping
- Remove the paper wrapper of the condensed milk. Place in slow cooker and cover with water. Cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours. Remove some of the water, carefully remove the can, and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Open carefully (it should be golden brown), pour into heat proof bowl, and whisk until smooth. Add hot water to thin out if needed. Set aside. (It will make more dulce de leche than needed for the cookies**.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together egg and maple syrup until homogenous. Stir in vanilla and melted coconut oil.
- In another bowl, combine almond flour, arrowroot starch, baking powder, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Place bowl in fridge.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Once oven is preheated, remove batter from the fridge and roll 1½ tablespoon of dough into balls. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and use a small spoon (I used a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon) to gently press into the middle, creating a "thumbprint" crater. Place back into the oven to bake for 5 more minutes.
- Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Spoon dulce de leche into the craters and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
products i used
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