Monday night football and weekend golf with the guys are ordinarily stiff competition, but have no fear. Serve up this hazelnut thumbprint with a “kiss” of white chocolate on top, and you’ll captivate him for good. Unfilled cookies are best stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week. If filled, cookies should be stored in the fridge (the filling is perishable) and enjoyed within 2 to 3 days, before the cookies get soft.–Julie M. Usher
Hazelnut-White Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen (1 3/4- to 2-inch) squares
- For the hazelnut cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped hazelnuts (with skins), cooled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pure hazelnut extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups untoasted chopped hazelnuts (with skins; for rolling)
- For the white chocolate ganache filling
- 12 ounces premium white chocolate, finely chopped or ground in a food processor
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon pure hazelnut extract
- Decoration (optional)
- About 1/4 cup lightly toasted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts (with skins), cooled, or 3 1/2 to 4 dozen large (3 mm) silver dragées
- Make the cookies
- 1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- 2. Place the flour, hazelnuts, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the nuts are finely ground but not pasty. Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and extracts. Continue to beat, scraping down the bowl as needed, until the mixture is well blended. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture, blending just until incorporated.
- 3. Finely chop the untoasted hazelnuts and place in a large bowl or cake pan to form a shallow layer.
- 4. Roll the dough between your palms into 1-inch balls. For the most uniform balls, first portion the dough into 1-inch mounds using a level 1 3/8-inch (#70) scoop or 2 level teaspoons per mound; then roll into perfect balls. If the butter was overly soft to start, the dough may be sticky and hard to handle. Chill as needed until easily shaped. Take care not to over chill, however, or the dough may crack when you make the indentations in Step 6.
- 5. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and whisk until frothy. Work with one ball at a time. Lightly coat the ball with beaten egg white and then tumble in the untoasted hazelnuts to evenly coat. Roll between your palms again to firmly fix the nuts in place. Repeat with the remaining balls.
- 6. Arrange the cookies 1 to 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Using your thumb or the end of a round-handled spoon, make a cup-shaped indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, re-pressing the indentations midway through the baking process. When done, the cookies should be lightly browned on the bottom. Immediately transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
- Make the ganache filling
- 7. This filling will set if made too far in advance, so make it no sooner than you intend to fill the cookies. Begin the ganache by placing the chopped (or ground) chocolate in a large bowl so it forms a shallow layer. Set aside.
- 8. Pour the cream into a medium (3-quart) nonreactive (stainless steel or coated) saucepan. Place over medium to medium-high heat and scald the cream. (That is, heat the cream to just below the boiling point. The cream will put off steam, but no bubbles should break on its surface.)
- 9. Immediately strain the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly onto the chocolate. Let the mixture sit 1 to 2 minutes without stirring, and then gently whisk until the chocolate is entirely melted. (If the chocolate does not completely melt, set the bowl over barely simmering water in a double boiler and stir regularly until smooth. Do not overheat, or the ganache may break.) Stir in the corn syrup. At the very end stir in the hazelnut extract.
- 10. Cover with plastic wrap and chill about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Beat on medium speed just until the ganache turns a shade whiter and holds the “tracks” left by the beater. Do not over beat, or the ganache will break and become grainy.
- Assemble the thumbprints
- 11. Work quickly before the ganache sets. Fit a pastry bag with a medium (3/8-inch) 6- to 8-pronged star tip and then fill the bag with the ganache. Hold the tip perpendicular to the cookie and pipe a rosette into the indentation by moving the bag in a tight circle. Quickly pull the bag up or to the side to form a delicate peak. (Alternatively, use a teaspoon to dollop the filling in the indentation.) Repeat with the remaining cookies. Top each cookie with a piece of coarsely chopped hazelnut or a single silver dragée if you prefer more glitz. Serve at room temperature.
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Hazelnut-White Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies Recipe © 2009 Julie M. Usher. Photo © 2009 Steve Adams. All rights reserved.