Monday, May 18, 2015

Chocolate Almond Thumbprint Cookies



You know those Hershey Kiss peanut butter blossom cookies that are so ubiquitous at Christmastime? Of course you do, right? Because you're a sentient being who eats cookies, right? If whoever came up with that recipe didn't get a fat check from the Hershey company, there's no justice in this world. Those things are everywhere come Christmas. 

Do you ever wonder why certain cookies seem to get classified as Christmas cookies? I'm not sure what it is about a peanut butter cookie with a Hershey Kiss stuck in the middle that makes people think of peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. To be honest, I actually don't even like peanut butter blossoms all that much. I kinda wish the Grinch would have taken peanut butter blossoms, stuffed them in his sack, and NOT brought them back to Whoville. Maybe I'm just a chocolate snob, though. To me, Hershey kisses are for when you reach Stage 4 of Chocolate Desperation. Like when you have no dessert left in the house and you find a Hershey kiss in the bottom of your kid's Halloween bag from six months ago and you go, okay, this will have to do. This comes just before Stage 5, which is drinking chocolate syrup straight. 

Anyway, when I saw this recipe for a more elegant version of the Christmas classic using a chocolate ganache instead of a Kiss (and almond butter instead of peanut), I figured I'd give it a whirl. After all, I had (again) done the thing where I bought almond butter on sale with the best of intentions, only to find it still hanging around forlornly in my fridge a month later. Little did I guess these would turn out so delicious--like a delightful marzipan confection filled with cold, creamy chocolate in the center.


Why wait for Christmas to eat something that good?

In fact, while these would be great any time, they might be an especially nice gesture when baking for someone who's allergic to peanuts but enjoys peanut butter blossoms. Or for chocolate snobs who turn up their noses at Hershey kisses. Or, really, for any sentient being who eats cookies.


Chocolate Almond Thumbprint Cookies
(Adapted from the Food Network)

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. smooth, unsweetened almond butter
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. plus 3 Tbsp. white sugar, divided
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. sliced almonds, coarsely chopped (crushed slivered almonds will also work in a pinch)

For the ganache:

5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or chocolate chips)
1/2 c. heavy cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease well with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix butter and almond butter on medium speed until well combined. Add brown sugar and white sugar and continue mixing another 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Switch mixing speed to medium-low and beat in the dry ingredient mixture until just incorporated.

4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 Tbsp. white sugar and chopped almonds.

5. Scoop cookie dough by tablespoons, roll into balls, and dredge through the sugar-almond mixture to coat. Space the balls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until the tops appear dry and slightly cracked.

6. Using a rounded teaspoon, make an indentation in the top of each cookie while still warm.  Allow to cool completely.

7. Meanwhile, to make the ganache, combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 45 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. Let cool.

8. Spoon ganache into a pastry bag, squeeze bottle, or Ziploc with a corner cut off. Fill each cookie indentation with ganache.

Makes 20-30 cookies, depending on size. For best taste and texture, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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