Thumbprints With Dulce de Leche, Nutella or Jam
Thumbprints are the simplest of cookies, but these are packed with flavor from freshly toasted nuts, each paired with its own filling: pecans with dulce de leche (or homemade caramel sauce, if you have some on hand), hazelnuts with Nutella, or pistachios with a festive pool of red currant jelly in the center. Choose a single combination, or make a batch of each. These cookies benefit from forming the thumbprint halfway through baking, but if you can't take the heat, let the dough soften a bit and then press the thumbprints into the dough before baking.
- Serves: 3 persons
- 3ounces/85 grams whole hazelnuts (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons), whole pecans (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons), or whole pistachios (about 2/3 cup)
- 2 ¼cups/290 grams all-purpose flour, plus 2 teaspoons
- 1cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
- ⅔cup/135 grams granulated sugar
- 2large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓cup dulce de leche (for pecan cookies), Nutella (for hazelnut cookies) or red currant jelly (for pistachio cookies), for filling
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
Step 1Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts or pecans out on a small baking sheet and cook in oven, shaking several times, until toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. If using hazelnuts, transfer to a bowl to cool, cover with a folded dish towel, then rub off the skins. (No need to toast the pistachios.)
Step 2Once cooled, transfer the nuts to a food processor, preferably a mini one. Add 2 teaspoons flour and pulse just until nuts are finely ground, being careful not to overprocess.
Step 3In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Add egg yolks and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl a few times as needed.
Step 4Add 1/2 cup ground nuts, the salt and the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour; beat on low speed just until combined, then increase speed and beat until dough starts to clump together. Scrape the bowl and fold a few times to make sure everything is well mixed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Step 5Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pinch off small pieces of dough the size of a rounded tablespoon (about 20 grams each) and roll the top half of each one in the remaining ground nuts. Place a few inches apart on parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheets. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.
Step 6Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven and make a thumbprint in each cookie. Bake until golden brown on the bottom, and nuts are looking toasty but not burned, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets and transfer to wire racks to cool further. While the cookies are still a little warm, fill each one with about 1/2 teaspoon of filling, and cool completely. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.