Monday night football and weekend golf with the guys are ordinarily stiff competition, but have no fear. Serve up these thumbprint cookies with a “kiss” of white chocolate on top, and you’ll captivate him for good.–Julia M. Usher
LC Fancypants Note
These thumbprint cookies seem all froufrou and fancypants, but they’re actually quite fundamental to put together. No need to let the person you’re making them for know that, though. Shhh. Your secret’s safe with us.
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen (1 3/4- to 2-inch) squares
- For the thumbprint cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped hazelnuts, with their skins intact, cooled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 2 1/2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups untoasted chopped hazelnuts, with their skins intact, for coating the cookies
- 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 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 thumbprint cookies
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line 2 or more baking 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 paste-like. Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and extracts and 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. 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 and then roll the blobs into perfect orbs. (If the butter was overly soft to start, the dough may be sticky and hard to handle. It may be necessary to refrigerate it for a few minutes until it can easily be shaped. Take care not to overchill the dough, however, or it may crack when you make the indentations later in the recipe.)
- 4. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and whisk until frothy. Working with 1 ball at a time, lightly coat the ball with the beaten egg white and then tumble it in the untoasted hazelnuts to evenly coat. Roll the ball between your palms again to firmly fix the nuts in place. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and arrange the cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- 5. 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 the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. (Unfilled cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 1 week.)
- Make the ganache filling
- 6. Begin the ganache no sooner than you intend to fill the cookies since it doesn’t keep well. Place the chopped or ground chocolate in a large bowl to form a shallow layer. Set aside.
- 7. Pour the cream into a medium (3-quart) nonreactive saucepan and place over medium to medium-high heat just until the cream is almost scalded. (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.)
- 8. Immediately strain the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 1 to 2 minutes, without stirring. Gently whisk the mixture until the chocolate is entirely melted. (If the chocolate doesn’t completely melt, set the bowl over barely simmering water in a double boiler or a bowl set over but not touching simmering water and stir frequently until smooth. Do not overheat or the ganache may break. When the chocolate is malted and smooth, stir in the corn syrup until incorporated and then stir in the hazelnut extract. Remove from the heat, cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface, and chill about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- 9. Transfer the ganache to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Beat on medium speed just until the ganache turns a shade paler and holds the “tracks” left by the beater. Do not overbeat or the ganache will break and become grainy. Immediately assemble the thumbprint cookies.
- Assemble the thumbprint cookies
- 10. Working 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. (Alternatively, scoop the ganache into a large resealable plastic bag and snip off one corner of the bag. Hold the tip of the bag perpendicular to the cookie and pipe a rosette (or, if you will, a delicate blob) into the indentation in the cookie 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 and filling. Top each cookie with a piece of coarsely chopped hazelnut or a single silver dragée if you prefer more glitz. Serve at room temperature. (The filled cookies should be stored in the fridge for no more than 2 to 3 days or they will get quite soft.)