Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Another cookie from the Christmas Cookie Arsenal, these are so simple to make and really satisfying. My older daughter tried one yesterday and said, "It's too bad there aren't more." I gave her 'a look' for being critical and she said, "What?! It's a compliment! I could eat these all day!"

Just for her, I am baking another batch.

Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 20 cookies
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated, each part lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup toasted skinned hazelnuts, ground
  • 2 T confectioner's sugar
  • Raspberry jam
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Put butter and ½ cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and mix well. Reduce speed to low.

  4. Add flour and salt, and mix until just combined. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  5. Stir together toasted hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar in a small bowl until well-mixed.

  6. Break off small pieces of the chilled dough and roll into 1-inch balls; dip balls in egg white, then in hazelnut-sugar mixture, coating well.

  7. Space the cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

  8. Press down center of each ball with your thumb.

  9. Bake for 10 minutes.

  10. Remove from oven; press down centers again with a spoon or your thumb if you have asbestos hands.

  11. Return to oven. Bake cookies until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more.

  12. Let cool slightly on sheets on wire racks.

  13. Fill each center with jam.

  14. Devour.

  • Silpat mats. I used to think that parchment paper was the key to perfect cookies and rolls until I burned a batch of crescent rolls that had been placed on parchment paper covered one of my "well-seasoned" cookie sheets. Even two layers of parchment can't keep things from burning on a dark sheet.

    Then I tried those air-insulated sheets, but didn't like the way that they had no lip to speak of.

    I finally broke down and bought a Silpat mat and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to bake.

  • Filling: People always seem to scream for strawberry or raspberry filling, but honestly my favorite is black currant.

    I bet if you changed the extract to almond extract, replaced the hazelnuts with ground almonds, and used cherry preserves, you'd have one damn-good cookie.

    Wow. That is almost worth a trip to the store for cherry preserves!

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