Wednesday, December 12, 2007
My Favorite Thumbprint Cookies
Unlike Pecan Balls, I haven't seen a lot of thumbprint cookies in the blogosphere. Women's magazines, on the other hand, always seem to include one obligatory thumbprint in their collections of holiday cookie recipes. They usually look fairly uninspired, although they may be wonderful recipes. I'll never know because these are the only thumbprints I will ever make.
This recipe is another oldie but goodie from grandma. The original typewritten recipe that I have a photocopy of calls for all shortening. And this is from back when Crisco had plenty of trans-fat. When I was a kid, I think we made them with margarine, which was the good-health fat of choice back then. Now, I make them with delicious, organic unsalted butter (Organic Valley is my everyday butter of choice), and they taste as wonderful as ever.
I've mentioned how much I like soft, tender, nearly under-baked cookies, and that is how I like these. Thanks to the butter and brown sugar, they melt in your mouth. Still, a contrast of textures is important if you want a truly sophisticated cookie experience, so these thumbprints are rolled in finely chopped--almost ground--walnuts.
And, as with so many desserts, a sweet, simple frosting takes these cookies from great to really great. Jam in thumbprint cookies never did it for me. Why have jam when you can have actual icing? To each her own, I guess. If you happen to have ideas about thumbprints that are equally as strong as mine, I would love it if you tried the cookie part and added your filling of choice, whether it be chocolate, jam or candied fruit--just as long as you tell me all about it!
I'm submitting this post to Susan's Christmas Cookie round-up at Food Blogga. She's gathering cookie recipes from far and wide, so it might be a good place to go if you're still looking for cookie inspiration!
My Favorite Thumbprint Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups (9 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1 1/4 cup walnuts, ground or very finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 4 tbs. milk
red and green food coloring
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and egg yolks at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined. Beat in vanilla. Stir in the flour and salt at very low speed or by hand.
Place the egg whites in a small bowl and spread the walnuts out in a shallow bowl or plate. Roll a spoonful of dough into a one-inch ball with your hands, quickly dip in egg white, roll in ground walnuts, shaking off any excess, and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets.
Bake for 6 minutes, remove pans from oven and quickly make a deep thumbprint in the center of each cookie. Return pans to oven and bake for 7 minutes more, or until just barely beginning to brown on the bottom. If notice the indentation you made disappearing as the cookies bake, pull them out and press again. Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks until cooled completely.
In each of two small bowls, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons milk. Add red food coloring to one bowl and green food coloring to the other. Stir well to combine and create a thick icing that slowly drizzles off your spoon. When cookies are completely cool, fill thumbprints with icing. If you want to freeze some of the cookies, allow icing to dry completely, 8 hours to overnight.
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