Turtle Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies

Turtle Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies take that favorite classic dessert and turn it into sweet, rich cookies! - Bake or Break

As someone who is a fan of cheesecake, chocolate, nuts, and caramel, it’s no surprise that I would enjoy turtle cheesecake. Not the ubiquitous mass-produced kind, but the actual homemade variety.

Cheesecake is not that difficult to make, but it is time-consuming. So, for the holidays, I thought it might be a grand idea to take all of those delicious turtle cheesecake elements and condense them into cookies. Boy, was I right!

Turtle Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies take that favorite classic dessert and turn it into sweet, rich cookies! - Bake or Break

Honestly, the cookies are fabulous all on their own. But, in keeping with the turtle theme, we must have caramel! So, a little indentation is made in the top and filled with creamy caramel.

I love these cookies just as they are. But, if you want to add just a bit more fancy to them, drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped pecans. They’ll look absolutely gorgeous on your holiday cookie tray.

Turtle Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: about 5 dozen cookies

Prep Time:30 minutes

Cook Time:15 minutes per pan

Turn a favorite classic dessert into sweet, rich cookies!


For the cookies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

For the caramel topping:

  • 15 soft caramels, unwrapped (about 4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream


To make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and cream cheese until combined. Add the sugar and brown sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Using a tablespoonful of dough, shape the cookies into balls.* Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Flatten each ball slightly. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, press a 1/4-inch indentation into the top of each cookie.

Bake the cookies, one pan at a time, 12-15 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool on pans for 5 minutes. Then, transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

*To make the caramel topping:*

Place the caramels and cream in a heavy saucepan. Heat on the stovetop over low heat, stirring frequently, until the caramels have melted and the mixture is smooth.

Using about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, fill the cookie indentations with caramel. Allow the caramel to cool and set. If necessary, you may refrigerate the cookies to set the caramel.


*The dough will be sticky. If necessary, lightly grease or flour your hands to make forming the dough into balls a bit easier.

This is a big-batch recipe, but it can easily be halved to make a smaller batch.

This recipe was originally developed for Go Bold with Butter, where I am a paid contributor.

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