Chocolate–caramel: Omit the peppermint extract from the cookie dough and bake as directed. Instead
of the chocolate filling use quick caramel filling (see below). Replace the crushed peppermint candy topping with toasted, chopped nuts.
11 small (6 oz.) caramels (I use Kraft® brand), unwrapped
3 Tbs. heavy cream
In a small saucepan, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Set the pan over very low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. (This can also be done in the microwave.)
Cover and refrigerate leftovers.
The cookies can be baked and cooled, then layered between sheets of parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container and stowed at room temperature for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months before thawing at room temperature and filling.
The chocolate filling can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Gently reheat in the microwave or on top of the stove and fill the cookies while the chocolate is still warm.
The filled cookies can be stowed at room temperature for up to 3 days. To keep the cookies looking their best, arrange them on a half sheet pan in a single layer and cover the pan tightly (avoiding the cookie tops) with plastic.
Shaping the dough and forming the indentation
Scoop the dough with a 1-Tbs. mini scoop, then release it into your hand.
Form the dough into a smooth ball, rolling it between the palms of both hands (there’s no need to flour your hands).
Once all the dough balls have been rolled, use a 1⁄2-tsp. measure to press down gently into the center of the ball, going almost to the bottom. Dip the measure in flour if it starts to stick to the dough.
If big cracks form as you press into the dough ball, reroll the dough and start again.