Sunday, December 23, 2012
Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies with Fruity, Nutty, Chocolaty Flair
I am beginning to think the only holiday traditions we have are intending to do festive activities and not following through. For instance, this year we were going to carve pumpkins for Halloween, like we did last year. Didn't actually happen. It got pushed back and back until it would have been December 1 and we would have been the weird people with a jack o lantern out on the porch in December instead of glittery Christmas decorations. For Hanukkah, we plan to make latkes at least one of the nights. This year we managed to make some before Hanukkah started. But not during. Even though we swore to ourselves we would. Quite frankly, there didn't seem to be any reason not to make these again. We were looking forward to them! We actually completely failed to celebrate this holiday. Candles were bought for the menorrah and never even lit. And now on to Christmas, we still have a few days, but it is looking increasingly likely that the gingerbread houses will not indeed be assembled and decorated. Perhaps we crack under holiday pressures? At some point these things sound super fun but once they are upgraded to the category of tradition they also bring a sense of obligation, a yoke we refuse to wear? Lazy? Busy? Perhaps we prefer to go with the flow, and see what new fun things each season brings? I have no idea. But there is actually one tradition - ok, I'm not using that word anymore - one activity that always happens this time of year... one that, without fail, actually happens. The cookies are always baked. The exact list of cookies changes each time. There are a few stalwarts, lending their years of experience to the annual cookie brigade. But it is the addition of new cookies that adds excitement and a sense of whimsy to the mix. These particular cookies are actually a hybrid between the new and old- a former heavy hitter recipe from my mom that got a bit of a chocolate makeover. So here are some shortbread thumbprint cookies filled with either apricot or orange spread. Or a raspberry, for funsies. Drizzled with a chocolate and almond ganache. Toasted almond slices optional.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/3-1/2 cup apricot or orange spread
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup toasted almond slices, optional
Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add in extract. Slowly stir in the flour. The mixture will look sandy at first, but the dough should come together, just keep the mixer going. Feel free to add just a touch of milk if it doesn't seem to come together. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Form into 1-inch balls. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to press an indentation into the ball. Fill with either the apricot spread or place a raspberry in there. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Cool for a minute on the tray then move to a cooling rack. Combine chocolate chips and cream in a microwaveable bowl. Carefully microwave for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is melted. Stir in the almond extract. Drizzle chocolate mixture over cookies. Add toasted almond slices to each cookie, if desired.