These cookies may look a bit like the ubiquitous Peanut Butter Blossoms, but they are something else entirely. I'm a fan of the blossoms, but mostly for the peanut flavored cookie because let's face it, the Hershey Kiss is a rather disappointing piece of chocolate. I know…it has a pretty shape and a cute name, but its waxy mouthfeel and boring flavor always leaves me wanting.
Not so with these thumbprint cookies, these little morsels totally satisfy with their almond-shortbread base studded with crunchy crystal sugar, and their filling of a simple ganache made with the finest bittersweet chocolate. They're a breeze to make, and the ideal cookie to bake and share as the recipe as written here will easily make 6 dozen of these little gems. In case math isn't your thing, that means 5 dozen for you to enjoy, 1 dozen to share 😉
These were the second of the three cookies that we made for our sibling cookie swap this year, and they were the easiest to make. While not exactly screaming "Christmas" like the others, we felt that the sparkle from the coarse sugar added a festive enough touch to include them in the mix. Plus, what kind of cookie-swapper would I be if I neglected to offer up a chocolate treat. I am, after all, still trying to fight my way onto Santa's good list!
Cheers – Steve
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 4 ounces (3/4 cup) whole almonds (I used 4 ounces almond meal/flour)
- 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut in large chunks and slightly softened
- 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 13 1/2 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup coarse sugar such as turbinado, demerara, or sanding sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the almond cookie dough:
- Process the granulated sugar and salt in a food processor until it looks powdery and a little finer, 30-60 seconds.
- Add the almonds and process until they're finely chopped (or add 4 ounces almond meal and move to the next step).
- Add the butter and the vanilla and almond extracts and pulse until the butter is smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Add the flour and pulse until a soft dough begins to form around the blade. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and stir briefly with a rubber spatula to ensure it's evenly mixed.
to form the cookies:
- Scoop up a generous teaspoonful (2 level teaspoons) of the dough and shape it into a 1-inch ball with your hands. Roll the ball in the coarse sugar and set it on a tray lined with wax or parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough setting the balls slightly apart.
- Press a thumb or forefinger, dipped in flour, into each ball to create a depression. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours , but preferably overnight.
- Remove the cookies from the fridge and arrange them 1-inch apart on a parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet. Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325℉. Let the cookies sit at room temperature while the oven heats.
- Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Gently redefine the depressions with your thumb or the tip of a wooden spoon handle, if necessary. Rotate the sheet and continue baking until the top are golden brown, another 8-12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
- While the cookies cool, prepare the filling.
- Put the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove from the heat and stir until completely smooth. Spoon the filling into each depression. If the filling hardens while using, reheat it over the pan of hot water.