Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
Okay, so maybe no one thought I was dead, but my apologies for the radio silence. I’m afraid the real world feels the need to intrude from time to time, but fortunately the demands of my professional life have only benefitted my baking life: as an avid stress baker, I’ve gone full throttle in the kitchen over the past few weeks and am excited to share the recipes that have kept me sane (and full!).
To start, I direct your attention to Exhibit A, my Chocolate Almond Thumbprints:
These cookies are delicate in both flavour and texture: with almond extract and ground almonds in the dough, the finished product will melt in your mouth (and probably get crumbs everywhere – sorry, again!). But don’t assume that “delicate” means boring, not with these delicious treats. Because right in the middle of each cookie is a pool of chocolate sprinkled with a dash of sea salt – the perfect combination of sweet and salty. And my favourite part of the recipe? You don’t need to refrigerate the dough! These are ready straight from the bowl, so you can go from cookie-less to cookie-heaven in less than an hour. You’re welcome.
Chocolate Almond Thumbprints
Adapted from Food52
The original recipe calls for lemon zest and vanilla extract to flavour the cookie dough. I found the lemon zest overpowering, and while the cookies were still delicious, the promised combination of chocolate and almond was missing. I’ve removed the lemon zest and swapped vanilla for almond extract. I’m a big fan of almond, so I kept the original 1 teaspoon measurement; if you prefer a more subtle flavour, drop it down to ½ or even ¼ teaspoon. If you prefer to emphasise the chocolate filling and keep the cookie base simple, follow the original recipe’s recommendation of vanilla, but keep out the lemon zest.
Makes at least 2 dozen, more if you make the cookies smaller
1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
¾ cup ground almonds (or almond meal)
½ bar (2.5 oz / 75 grams) chocolate, semi-sweet or dark depending on preference
1½ tablespoons (20 grams) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon golden syrup (or light corn syrup)
Sea salt, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
As always, make sure your butter is room temperature before starting – soft butter makes things so much easier! In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the almond extract and stir the mixture for another 10-15 seconds.
In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the flour and ground almond. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter mixture: stir in the almond flour bit by bit until the mixture just comes together. To keep the cookies soft and crumbly, be sure not to overmix the dough.
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a small spoon (or just eyeballing it), roll the dough in ½ tablespoon-size portions.* Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Once all the balls have been arranged, go back and make an indentation in the centre of each ball. Despite the name, I typically use my forefinger since my thumbprint makes a rectangle rather than a nice circle (I’m so awkward…). Make the indentation as large as you like but leave about a ¼ inch of dough around the rim; this will keep your chocolate from overflowing when you add the filling.
Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 13-16 minutes, rotating once after 10 minutes. When you pull the cookies out for the rotation, take a few moments to reshape your indentations. Don’t be discouraged if the original dips have disappeared: just give a quick push and the cookie will fall right back into place, it just needs a little encouragement! Return the cookies to the oven and let them finish for the final few minutes. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack. Finish off the remaining dough with the same process.
Time for the chocolate filling. I recommend saving the filling until you have baked all of the cookies: the filling is easiest to work with while still warm, so if you make it in between batches, the melted chocolate will get too cold to work with. While your cookies cool, break up the chocolate bar and place it in a small, heatproof bowl, along with the golden syrup and remaining butter. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and slowly stir the chocolate as it melts. Take the bowl off of the stove just before the chocolate is completely melted and stir until the final pieces become smooth. Quickly transfer the chocolate mixture to a measuring cup with a lip. Let the chocolate cool for 2-3 minutes and then start pouring the filling in your cookies. To finish, sprinkle the cookies with sea salt. Allow at least an hour for the chocolate centres to set – but that shouldn’t keep you from eating a few cookies in the meantime!
*Note: at this point, you can make the cookies as large or small as you like. I wouldn’t recommend going any smaller than 1 teaspoon, though – you want to make sure you have plenty of room for your chocolate filling!