I’ve never made thumbprint cookies before. I realize this indicates a serious gap in my education, but I was raised in a cookie-less household? My mom made lots of delicious things to compensate, but cookies were missing from my life until I was a teenager.
I’ve certainly tried making up for it since then. I think my first love is for the chocolate chip cookie, such a classic. The ones in this recipe are my favorite, but my college roommate used to make ridiculously good chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, and my memories of them involve sitting around our dining table late at night in sweatpants getting really hyper off sugar. I also have a weakness for ginger cookies, the chewy kind, like these. At my old job in San Francisco, we used to hold an annual cookie swap, and I’d always bring something ginger-y and doused in sugar. I’d push them pretty hard on my co-workers and would stand and watch as they took a bite. It was unnerving I’m sure, but I wanted all my cookies to be snatched up first.
I also love brownie-like cookies, and peanut butter cookies, and the list could go on. I’ll refrain. If you can’t tell, I have a one-track cookie mind, a serious thing for soft and chewy. It’s kind of limiting, especially when you consider the worlds of cookies I’m not making as a result. That’s why this Christmas, I decided to finally step outside of my cookie comfort zone. With thumbprints.
But baby steps first. I’m not fond of jam-filled pastries—this relates back to my dislike of fruit being cooked. So I decided to go the chocolate route instead. The chocolate ganache route, using honey as the sweetener. It also acts as a thickener, so that the ganache somewhat sets and solidifies and doesn’t get all over the place (case in point: I dropped a cookie on the rug and it left no smear whatsoever; but a lot of rug fuzz ended up on the cookie). It also lends its taste to the chocolate, which results in an unexpectedly good combination, especially when offset against the Maldon salt in the cookie.
The cookie itself, being somewhat of a shortbread in nature, is quite a departure for me. I have too many memories of family-sized tins of Danish butter cookies given to us by visitors from China. I’d eat one and remember that I hated them because they were buttery and plain, and eventually my mom would end up putting it away in the cupboard that stored all food gifts from visitors from China (mostly consisting of Danish butter cookies).
The cookies in this recipe are not plain. They are quite buttery however, and crumble in your mouth the way shortbread does. They’re also rich, so that their two-teaspoon size is more than enough for one serving, especially with the dollop of ganache on top. I like them. I’m still a fan of soft chewy cookies, but for my first-ever thumbprints, I’d say they’re quite good.
CHOCOLATE THUMBPRINT COOKIES
makes 75 (2-tsp size portions)
Adapted from Martha Stewart
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp coarse (I used Maldon) salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/3 cups sugar
Turbinado sugar for rolling
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Chocolate Ganache, recipe below
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add yolks, cream, and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in flour mixture until just combined.
Roll balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each, and roll each in turbinado sugar. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Using your index finger, make a deep indentation in the center of each. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. The indentations will probably lose definition, so press centers again. Let cool completely.
Spoon warm ganache into center of each cookie. Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
Makes about 1 cup
Adapted from Martha Stewart
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract,
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Combine honey, cream, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring until honey dissolves. Remove from heat, and pour over chocolate. Stir vigorously until it has mostly melted. Add butter and continue stirring until the chocolate and butter have fully melted and all the ingredients have been incorporated.
The ganache is most malleable when still warm, so make sure your cookies have cooled completely and fill away!