Search the Site

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies: Chocolate Turtle

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies: Chocolate Turtle

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies: Chocolate Turtles [pinit] These gluten free thumbprint cookies in chocolate turtle flavor are either a bit late for gluten free Christmas cookies, or right on time for Valentine’s Day, exactly 10 days from today. Like most holidays, I’m happy to celebrate if there’s food. I have definitely passed that trait along to my children, who insist upon celebrating every holiday. They know that I don’t discriminate, and they also know that they might have to celebrate a bit early so that I can share the recipes with all of you. And anyway Valentine’s Day is completely made up, so, you know.

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies: Chocolate Turtles

You don’t have to drizzle melted chocolate on top of the cookies, but if you do then it will automatically look fancy and like you put in way more effort than you actually did. Let’s face it: part of the love of baking comes from the oooohs and the aahhhhhhs we get upon serving. That’s why making 30 dozen cookies for a faceless group of people you’ll never meet (BTDT) is a completely joyless experience. That’s why I can’t imagine myself ever opening up a bakery. I may or may not have a cute little gluten free bakery all planned out in my mind, with huge windows to the shop is flooded with light, and a cute little apron covered in gluten free flour. Then I remember the joylessness in all the dozens, and I wake up.

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies: Chocolate Turtles

Gluten free thumbprint cookies are some of the most versatile cookies you can make (I’ve got a recipe for plain vanilla gluten free thumbprints, too, ‘course), since you can fill them with whatever you like. Melted chocolate, melted caramel, seedless jam or even frosting (fun!) are all legit fillings.

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies: Chocolate Turtles

Since these are chocolate, you’ll have to judge whether they’re done or not by their texture, not a slight browning around the edges or anything. They go from glossy (raw) to matte (baked).

Gluten Free Thumbprint Cookies: Chocolate Turtles

Substitution Questions (NOTE: I have not tried any of these, so these are just suggestions):
DAIRY FREE: I would try using a mix of half melted and cooled shortening/half room temperature Earth Balance for the butter, and full fat coconut milk for the cream.

NUT FREE: Easy! Just sprinkle with something other than nuts. :)

EGG FREE: Since it’s only one egg, I would recommend using one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon chia flour + 3 tablespoons lukewarm water) as that is the most neutral-flavored egg replacement that actually adds structure instead of just moisture (applesauce only adds moisture, and eggs provide much more than moisture).

YOUR TURN: As always, if you try a substitution or have go-to substitutions for your own dietary needs, please feel free to share them in the comments. But please remember that these are substitutions, not options, and they will affect the final result to varying degrees. Let’s keep this friendly, too. They’re just cookies!

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 12 cookies


1 cup (140 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used my Better Than Cup4Cup blend)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

3 tablespoons (27 g) cornstarch (you can try arrowroot if you can’t have corn)

7 tablespoons (35 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (you can try replacing with an equal amount of natural unsweetened cocoa powder + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg (60 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 tablespoons (1 ounce, weighted) water

3 tablespoons (1 1/2 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Chopped raw pecans, for sprinkling

Melted chocolate, for drizzling (optional)


  • First, make the cookies. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • Make the cookie dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar, and whisk to combine again, working out any lumps. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter, egg and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will come together and be thick but soft. Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill while you make the caramel filling.

  • Make the caramel filling. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the granulated sugar, cream of tartar and water, and mix to combine well. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat, and cook until the mixture is beginning to turn amber in color (to ensure that you do not burn the sugar, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and remove it from the heat when the sugar mixture reaches 300°F). Remove the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, slowly add the cream. The mixture will bubble fiercely. Keep stirring until the mixture stops bubbling and is smooth. Add the butter and salt, and whisk to combine well. Pour the caramel into a separate heat-safe bowl or jar, and allow to cool while you make the cookies. It will thicken as it cools.

  • Shape the cookies. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, press into a disk about 1/2-inch thick, and place about 1 inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Press the moistened bowl of a 1/2 teaspoon (or your thumb, moistened) into the center of each disk, about 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the dough. If the dough begins to stick to the teaspoon or your thumb, moisten it in between each cookie.

  • Bake the cookies. Place the cookies in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and set (they will not glisten when they’re baked like they do when they’re raw). Remove the cookies from the oven, and press the thumbprint depressions again with the bowl of a 1/2 teaspoon if any have puffed up too much during baking. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Assemble the cookies. Once the cookies are cool, fill the thumbprint depressions with the cooled caramel, sprinkle immediately with chopped pecans and drizzle with the (optional) melted chocolate. Allow to sit at room temperature until set (about 20 minutes—less if you refrigerate the cookies).



P.S. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, my revolutionary new book on gluten free bread!

Comments are closed.

  • […] Chocolate turtle thumbprint cookies. […]

  • Autumn
    February 5, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    Oh my goodness these were amazing!!! My new favorite cookie…until your next cookie recipe, that is. :) My family devoured them and even my extremely picky eater ate one (without pecans, of course) and said “Yum! My favorite part is the caramel in the middle.” That’s huge for him. So I have to give you props!! I was told I’m the best mom ever but since it’s your recipe I’ll take second place. I’m good with that. :) Thanks for all your awesome recipes and all you do to make gluten free baking a joy. You rock!!

  • February 4, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Bakers have to get up really early- so over-rated. Better off just making a bunch and eating them! The chocolate drizzle looks divine.

  • Mare Masterson
    February 4, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I like your reason for not opening the cute little bakery…my very same reason. I am just now, this late in life, enjoying baking (it is all your fault, ya know! wink, wink!) and I do not want to have to bake anything and many dozens of anything on any given day. So, thank you for taking a big one for the team with all the baking you put yourself through so you can provide us with the awesome fruits of your labor on this blog and in your books!

    I am, however, wishing I could retire early so I can be Suzi homemaker and bake every day in my home! There was a time I would have considered that a nightmare! Look at what you have done to me! LOL

    I also have to share with you just how much my family appreciates you and the baking that I have done because of you. My gluten eating son has just requested that, if he gives me money for the supplies, I bake dozens of the cheesecake cookies and the Nutella stuffed brownie cookies so that he can bring them to an anime convention. He is a part of the staff at the convention and wants to have gluten free options at the hospitality room and to offer cookies to the people who attend his panels. He did not ask for any gluten baked goods/cookies, just those two specific ones. I am sure the minute I make the chocolate turtle cookies (1) they will instantly vanish like a magic trick, and (2) my son will add that one to his list for me to make! I know him all too well!

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      Wow, Mare! It sounds like your son has great taste—and that he’s totally on board with the way you eat. I love that you have a newly discovered passion for baking. It can be very therapeutic!

  • Jennifer S.
    February 4, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Yummy. enough said!
    Thanks for all you do!

  • Jen A
    February 4, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Yummo! Thanks for the substitution suggestions :) can’t wait to try these!

    • February 4, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Pleasure, Jen! :)

  • Laura
    February 4, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Mmm! I love turtle..anything! Can’t wait to try these! Thanks!!

    • February 4, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Turtle flavors are magic, Laura!

  • Donia Robinson
    February 4, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    In the DF subs, “full fat coconut milk for the coconut.” — probably meant cream?

    P.S. Made the Paleo fudge last week. It was so, so good. And the best part was that it was very filling. I can put away a shameful amount of sweets in one sitting, but that fudge really satisfied!

    • February 4, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      Yes! Cream! Fixed. Thanks so much, Donia. Seriously, no matter how many times I proofread… Good thing I don’t self-publish my books. A writer who is her own editor is, well, in trouble. So glad you liked the fudge. :)

    • Donia Robinson
      February 4, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      Oh, and on another note unrelated to this particular recipe, I feel like your mug cake repertoire might be missing something – a Paleo version? Just a thought! ;)

    • February 4, 2014 at 8:39 PM

      Oooooh very, very good idea, Donia!

Back to Top