Monday, December 09, 2013

Almond-Covered Thumbprint Cookies

I once heard about a book that espoused a particularly appealing version of the "balanced diet" approach to weight loss. Say you want to have a milkshake? Well, it advised, have a milkshake! Just have a small one. And not every day. And accompany it with a big pile of steamed broccoli, and call it dinner.

At the time, I remember thinking that sounded great. Not as some sort of balanced system of penance and reward — simply because I like both of those items a whole lot, and a meal composed of the two would be across-the-board wonderful. It's often what I default to, especially when nobody else is around to mitigate. To whit: for a recent solo dinner, I ended up roasting and eating a pound of Brussels sprouts, followed by a few fresh-from-the-oven buttery, jammy cookies. And it was great.

I recommend these cookies as part of anyone's balanced brassica-filled meal. I've made thumbprint cookies before of a more hippie, oat-and-whole-grain-filled sort. I like that variation, but these have a buttery simplicity that's hard to beat. A rich, plain short dough, rolled in almonds that toast up in the oven, then filled with jam (in this case, a runny undercooked raspberry version I'd made, which was perfect for the task). Even without the Brussels sprouts, they more than hold their own.

Almond-Covered Thumbprint Cookies

adapted from Nikole Herriott, via Lottie and Doof
yields ~20 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg, separated (I used two smallish eggs, which worked great)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
scant 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cups raw almonds, chopped (you want them small enough to adhere to cookies, but big enough to provide a nice bite)
~ 1/4 cup jam of your choosing (raspberry is especially nice)

Preheat your oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment, or grease them well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until well-mixed and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until well mixed. Stir in the flour and salt, and mix until the dough just comes together (you can add a spoonful of water if needed).

Scoop your dough out into generous tablespoons and roll into balls (you should have about 20).  Lightly whisk the egg whites, and places the almonds in a shallow bowl. Roll each dough ball in the egg whites to coat, then in the chopped almonds (you can use a little pressure if needed to make them adhere). Place the cookies on sheet, with a bit of space between them (they shouldn't spread all that much).

Press on each cookie, to flatten into a chubby disk. Using your thumb, or the handle of a wooden spoon, make a nice wide intent in the center of each cookie. Spoon a bit of jam into each indent (you may not be able to fit much more than a generous 1/4 teaspoon). Bake in the preheated oven until just beginning to turn lightly golden, ~15 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Best eaten in the first day or two.

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