These dulce de leche cookies are made with 6 simple ingredients and have a deliciously light sugar cookie base and a creamy rich caramel topping. We’re using a technique similar to that used to make thumbprint cookies, in the shape of a heart for an adorably tasty dessert.

a plate of dulce de leche cookies

Dulce de leche is a kind of caramel that’s extremely popular in Latin cuisine. It’s a thick milk and sugar based caramel, that pairs well with many Puerto Rican recipes.

It can be used in many ways, like as a caramel topping on these apple empanadas, as a sweetener in coffee, or even as a main component in this dulce de leche ice cream.

bowls of flour, sugar, sticks of butter and more

Ingredients

Here are the 6 (+1 optional topping) ingredients you will need to make these adorable cookies:

  • salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • white granulated sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • eggs
  • all purpose flour
  • dulce de leche (can be homemade or storebought)
  • Optional: salt flakes for finishing

See recipe card for exact quantities.

Step by Step Instructions

a bowl with two sticks of butter and sugar
Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. In a large mixing bowl combine the softened butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat with a stand mixer, electric mixer or by hand until it appears to lighten in color and texture.  
creamed sugar and butter with eggs and vanilla extract
Add eggs & vanilla. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until evenly combined.
a bowl of creamed butter and sugar with flour
Add the flour. Begin by adding the flour ½ cup at a time, folding the dough together until it’s all combined before adding more. Continue to knead with your hands for at least 5 minutes, or until the dough is no longer sticky or crumbly and holds together well. 
Chill. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 350 when the hour is almost up.

Reminder: You can also just form a small well in the center if you don’t like the idea of a heart shaped center.

a hand pushing a tiny spoon into a cookie
Form the cookies. Using a cookie scooper, form cookie dough balls and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Gently press the cookie dough balls with your palm or the base of a flat glass to flatten. With your index finger or the back of a tiny spoon, press into the center of the cookies twice to form a heart. Carefully transfer the dulce de leche into a piping bag and pipe into the indentations in the cookies. 
a hand putting salt over cookies
Bake. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden brown around the edges. Optional: sprinkle with flake salt. Enjoy!

Filling Options

If you’ve ever had thumbprint cookies before, you know the options for toppings are pretty much endless. This is because of the neutral blank sugar cookie canvas that we have as a base.

Here are a few of my favorite alternative fillings if you don’t have/like dulce de leche:

  • Jam – Raspberry, strawberry, apricot, you name it! Pretty much any jam will be delicious here.
  • Nutella – We all know how delicious nutella is, and it’s the perfect pairing with a sugar cookie like this.
  • Coffee Cream – I’m a big fan of pretty much anything coffee flavored, and this coffee cream recipe seems like the ultimate combo for these cookies.

As mentioned above, you can definitely skip the heart shaped center if you’re not into the festive shape. A simple circle shaped well in the center (can be done using the back of a tablespoon) will suffice!

hands piping dulce de leche into cookies

Perfect Pairings

I’m not here to tell you how to eat your cookies, but my favorite way to do it is with a glass of something subtly sweet.

A few of my favorites include:

  • Cafe con Leche: A classic cup of Puerto Rican cafe con leche with this sweet caramel filled cookie is like a slice of heaven. Try it and thank me later!
  • Moroccan Mint Tea: In Morocco, it’s very normal to enjoy your mint tea with a spread of sweets, and these cookies would fit right in.
  • Moroccan Coffee: Coffee really seems to be an ongoing theme in my mind today, and for good reason because coffee and caramel go together like bread and butter. This Moroccan spiced coffee will bring out all kinds of flavor profiles and compliment the cookies beautifully.

Alfajores vs. Dulce de Leche Cookies

If you’ve ever had alfajores before, you may be asking yourself about the difference between them and these dulce de leche cookies.

Alfajores have origins in the Middle East and South America and are made with two flour based cookies sandwiched around a spread of dulce de leche.

While the flavor profile is very similar, the composition and texture are quite different.

a piping bag full of dulce de leche

Special Tools

While there aren’t any special tools required to make this recipe, I do recommend a few that will make the process easier.

A stand mixer or hand held mixer will help significantly in creaming the butter and sugar together. If you don’t have either, a little muscle strength and a fork will do the trick.

Cookie scoopers make baking equal sized cookies a breeze. No worrying about rolling them a million times until they’re even. Of course, you can feel free to do so if you don’t have one.

I enjoy using parchment paper sheets when baking cookies as they make clean up super quick. It’s not at all necessary, but if you’re interested in a good nonstick method of baking cookies, I highly recommend.

A piping bag can help with evenly filling the cookies with the dulce de leche. You can also use a large ziplock bag with a tip cut off or simply use a spoon.

a plate of dulce de leche cookies

Storage

You can store these in an air tight container in the fridge or on the counter top for up to 5 days.

These cookies do stand up well to freezing. Wrap in an air tight bag and they should keep in the freezer for up to 12 months.

Buen provecho,

Salima written in cursive
Print
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a plate of dulce de leche cookies

6 Ingredient Dulce de Leche Cookies

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  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 18 cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Latin
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

These dulce de leche cookies are made with 6 simple ingredients and have a deliciously light sugar cookie base and a creamy rich caramel topping. We’re using a technique similar to that used to make thumbprint cookies, in the shape of a heart for an adorably tasty dessert. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup dulce de leche
  • Optional: salt flakes for finishing


Instructions

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar. In a large mixing bowl combine the softened butter and sugar. Beat with a stand mixer, electric mixer or by hand until it appears to lighten in color and texture. a hand mixer over a bowl with butter and sugar
  2. Add eggs & vanilla. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until evenly combined.eggs, butter and sugar in a bowl
  3. Add the flour. Begin by adding the flour ½ cup at a time, folding the dough together until it’s all combined before adding more. Continue to knead with your hands for at least 5 minutes, or until the dough is no longer sticky or crumbly and holds together well. a bowl of creamed butter and sugar with flour
  4. Chill. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 350 when the hour is almost up. cookie dough in a bowl
  5. Form the cookies. Using a cookie scooper, form cookie dough balls and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Gently press the cookie dough balls with your palm or the base of a flat glass to flatten. With your index finger or the back of a tiny spoon, press into the center of the cookies twice to form a heart. Carefully transfer the dulce de leche into a piping bag and pipe into the indentations in the cookies. a hand pushing a tiny spoon into a cookie
  6. Bake. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden brown around the edges. Optional: sprinkle with flake salt. Enjoy!a plate of dulce de leche cookies