Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Ganache

This weekend was the first in a while where I was rudely reminded that winter is coming.  It's obviously been on its way for a while now, but we've had many random little moments of sunshine and mild weather, the kind of moments where you wish it could just be fall forever.  This weekend though, oh boy.  It was cold.  Much colder than it had been earlier in the week.  And it was gray and rainy and just miserable.  Truly, it was depressing.  It didn't stop raining for the entire day on Saturday, and as much as I wanted to curl up under the covers with a cup of tea and a good book, I devised a new plan to entertain myself and brighten up my day.  I would make cookies, because the idea made its way into my head and it wasn't leaving.  Cookies were exactly what I  needed.

While I could have chosen to make some wonderfully spiced or pumpkin or cider kind of cookie, I didn't want that. No, I wanted nothing seasonal.  I just wanted a good old, straight up happy cookie.  Seasonal wasn't going to cut it.  My cookies needed to be cheery and be able to make me feel good.  Nothing fussy or overly complicated about them...they just needed to be good.

A couple weeks ago I had thought about making some kind of vanilla cookie to dip in chocolate...nothing crazy, just a buttery type of cookie with a simple chocolate glaze, and maybe a sprinkle thrown on here and there for good measure. I remembered that idea over the weekend, and it seemed like the perfect combination of flavors to play around with. I decided to go from a simple cut out cookie to an even simpler thumbprint cookie.  I loved the idea of making thumbprint cookies because they're one of my favorite cookies ever.  I've always made them, ever since I was little, and I just love biting into the center of a thumbprint cookie and getting a huge bite of jelly or ganache.  It's just the best part of the thumbprint cookie experience.

These thumbprint cookies are different from the typical thumbprint cookie I make.  I typically make a lemony thumbprint cookie filled with raspberry jam, and it might be one of my favorite cookies of all time.  For these cookies, since I knew I wanted to fill them with a rich chocolate ganache, I thought a simple vanilla base would work best for the cookie.  The recipe I ended up using for the cookies is similar to a sugar cookie recipe, and the cookies come out perfectly tender.  The dough takes all of about two seconds to mix together, and is then shaped into little balls.  With the back of a teaspoon (I know, I cheated!) I made a light indentation into each ball of cookie dough, and then sent the cookies into the oven.  After baking for a short time, the cookies are taken out of the oven and a deeper indentation is made into each cookie (this is where the teaspoon comes in handy!) and the cookies go back into the oven for another few minutes.  When the cookies are ready, they'll still be on the pale side, but their bottoms will be a light golden brown.    

While the cookies cooled, I made a simple ganache out of heavy cream and dark chocolate.  I actually found it easiest to fill the cookies with the ganache before it set; I simply added the ganache to a Ziploc bag and made a makeshift piping bag by snipping off the corner, and then filled the centers of the cookies with chocolate ganache. A quick sprinkling of cute rainbow sprinkles really finished off the cookies.  These thumbprints were exactly what I needed on a cold, dreary fall day.  They were oh so tasty, happy, and brought a smile to my face! 

Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Ganache
cookie recipe from Brown Eyed Baker


For the Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

rainbow sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set aside.  In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Add the flour mixture all at once, and with the mixer running on low speed, mix for about a minute to incorporate.  Increase the speed to medium, and mix for another minute until a dough forms. 

Portion the dough out by tablespoonfuls and roll into balls. With your thumb or the back of a teaspoon, press a light indent into each ball of dough.  Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. 

Remove the cookies from the oven, and press a deeper indent into each cookie with the teaspoon.  Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another ten minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  

When the cookies have cooled, prepare the ganache.  Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it's scalding and place the chocolate in a bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir until a smooth ganache forms.  Transfer the ganache to a Ziploc bag and snip one of the corners off to create a makeshift piping bag.  Pipe the ganache into the center of each cookie, and then top with rainbow sprinkles. Let the cookies sit for a while so that the ganache sets.  Enjoy!

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies


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