Ah, afterglow. That blissful feeling immediately following an extremely pleasurable event or the radiance in the sky after the sun has set. Both leave us with a sense of contentment and peace. For a moment all is right in the world. I have had many food experiences with the same feeling, and today’s cookies are certainly on that list.
Yes, some would say that these cookies are even better than sex. I don’t know if I would go quite that far, but they are certainly amazing treats. A beautiful combination of citrus-scented crunchy cookies with a smooth, glistening chocolate ganache filling that lingers in your senses long after it is gone.
I made mine with gluten-free flour and they were wonderful. One trick to great gluten-free baked goods is to use a super finely ground rice flour in your blend. This greatly lessens the grittiness so common in many GF baked goods. My favorite brand is Authentic Foods and you can easily recognize their varieties in gold foil bags. You can probably find it in gourmet grocery stores, gluten-free shops and of course online.
Another positive thing about these cookies is that they do not contain any eggs. For those of you with children with multiple allergies, this will be a great option for birthday parties and other events where children are gathered. If you want to make them dairy-free, you can use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in place of the butter.
You may notice if you compare my photos to the recipe, that my cookies are far darker than they should be. That is what happens when I am making dinner at the same time as I am baking. I forgot to reset the timer after taking them out of the oven the first time. They are still delicious, but follow the recipe instead of the photos and bake yours for a shorter time than I did!
These are really lovely little cookies, the perfect bite-sized treat with a glass of milk or cup of coffee. And while I chose to fill them with chocolate, you can use anything you like. A white chocolate ganache would be wonderful and more traditional fillings are raspberry and apricot jam. Blueberry, peach, mint, or even pepper jelly would be fun and different options to try.
The next time I make these I will double the ingredients. The recipe only makes about 24 cookies and you could easily eat three or four at a time. These are so good that it would be nice to have enough to make some chocolate and some with another filling. Oooh, maybe some lemon curd – now, that’s what I’m talking about!
I hope you enjoy these tiny bites of heaven as much as The Artist and I do. Have a fabulous week and Happy Chocolate Monday!!
If you use a gluten-free flour blend and certified gluten-free almond meal, such as that from Bob’s Red Mill, these cookies are naturally gluten-free. They are also egg-free for anyone with dual allergies.
Almond and Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted slightly from recipe on Food52.com
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
3/4 cup finely ground almond meal
1 stick (4 oz) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest from 1 small tangerine or lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (about 70%), chopped coarsely
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp golden syrup or light corn syrup
Pinch sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two small baking sheets (or one large one) with parchment paper.
Make Cookies: In a small bowl, whisk together flour and almond meal. Set aside. In a food processor, combine the zest with the sugar. Pulse about 20 seconds until they’re blended and the sugar is lightly colored.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the butter and citrus-sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few more seconds.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and then add the almond meal-flour mixture a little at a time. Beat just until just incorporated into the dough — don’t overmix. Stop the mixer, remove the beater and use a rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl.
Scoop teaspoon-sized balls of dough (a melon scoop or mini ice cream scoop work well) and roll them to form small balls. Place the balls about 1-inch apart on the parchment-lined baking sheet(s). You can place them fairly close together because they will not spread much as they bake.
Make Thumbprints in Dough: Using your thumb, the handle of a wooden spoon, or the back of watermelon scoop gently press an indentation into the center of each cookie. Use the fingers of your other hand to hold the dough balls, gently pressing the sides together if they start to split a little. Make the centers plenty deep and wide to hold the chocolate filling but be careful not to press all the way through the dough. You are just making a divot to hold the chocolate after baking.
Bake cookies about 8 minutes, and pull the baking sheet out of the oven and set it on the stove. The cookies tend to puff up as they bake. Using the same wooden spoon handle or other implement, very gently press the centers down a bit, flattening them again. Return the sheet to the oven, this time with the opposite side facing the back of the oven and continue baking another 5 minutes. Check again, tapping the centers down if needed and cook another 2 minutes or until the cookies are only slightly colored around the edges. Be careful to not overbake.
When done, remove from oven and transfer the cookies to cooling racks. If you have baked the cookies on parchment, carefully lift one end and slide the paper and cookies straight onto the cooling rack. Leave until fully cooled.
Make Chocolate Filling: In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the chocolate, butter, golden syrup, and sea salt. The golden syrup will help keep the mixture smooth and shiny. Leave the mixture alone until the chocolate and butter start to melt. Then stir occasionally and move the chocolate pieces around so they are submerged in the melted chocolate, which will speed up the melting. Using a hot pad, remove the bowl from the heat, set the bowl on a kitchen towel and stir until melted and smooth. Pour into a heatproof measuring cup with a spout.
Fill Cookies: When cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the melted chocolate. Pour the chocolate slowly, gently shaking the measuring cup to help the chocolate flow. Fill each cookie, going back to add more to those that don’t have as much chocolate as the others. There will be plenty of chocolate to go around.
Leave the cookies undisturbed for about an hour or until the chocolate centers are set before packing away.
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