Baby Aria is very similar to my husband Lulu when it comes to her favorite foods. She loves vegetables and she adores sweets. Today I experimented with a batch of cookies I usually make when we have guests over for tea: thumbprint cookies. They're so pretty, especially with the crackle effect on the shortbread cookie dough and the whimsical design in the center indentation that almost resembles a crazy eye.
I flavored the cookie dough with cocoa powder and mocha paste. I filled them with vanilla chips and a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate, which came out just as great. Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to sharing recipes next week in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo!
Servings: 22 cookies
1 teaspoon mocha paste
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 tablespoons powdered sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 ounces vanilla apeels (see tips)
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons whole milk
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Making cookie dough:
In a bowl, cream the butter with the powdered sugar. Add the egg, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until the cookie dough is formed. Sprinkle with light brown sugar and mix until well distributed. Divide in 3 equal portions.
Gather 2 of the portions and add the mocha paste and cocoa powder. Mix until the color is uniform. Add the last portion and mix until you have a somewhat marbled design. Do not over-mix. Store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Baking the cookies:
Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or sheets of parchment paper. Using a melon baller, form 22 balls of cookie dough and place onto the baking sheets. Make sure to space the cookies about 2 inches apart so that they don't touch each other as they expand when they bake.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes at 375°F. Open the oven. Press the center of the cookie using a melon baller or any small spoon. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 8 minutes.
Decorating the cookies:
For the vanilla apeels and dark chocolate chips, use or make a double boiler. Place a stainless-steel bowl filled with the vanilla apeels on top of a pot filled with hot water. Add 2 tablespoons milk. Repeat the same procedure with the dark chocolate chips but with only 1 tablespoon of milk.
As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, spoon about ¼ teaspoon of vanilla apeel filling into each thumbprint. Using a chopstick, drop in a little bittersweet melted chocolate and immediately swirl the filling in a pretty design using a toothpick. Let the filling set until firm.
Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.
Make sure to press the cookies half-way through the baking time to get nice crackled lines on the edge of the cookies.
I used Guittard vanilla apeels for the ganache. I bought them directly from my local store, the Milk Pail Market, 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040. You can also use white chocolate. Wherever you are, show your support to your local businesses.
For the double boiler, I always like to add a little kitchen towel underneath the chocolate-filled bowl. That way the bowl won't jiggle and there won't be any splatter of water in the chocolate. If the chocolate hardens, place the bowl back on the double boiler. You could also warm the chocolate in the microwave, 20 seconds at time and stirring in between takes.
I added milk to the vanilla apeels and chocolate to make the mixture smoother and more glossy. You can add any other dairy liquid, such as regular cream, or even omit this part if you want a thicker texture.
I buy Koepoe-Koepoe brand pastes. There are rose, mocha and pandan flavors. You can find them in Asian stores or at VeryAsia.com.
You can also store the thumbprint cookie dough up to 3 months in your freezer for last-minute surprise guests. Simply form the cookie dough balls, place onto the baking sheet, then in the freezer until hardened. Transfer to a sealable bag and store in the freezer until ready to bake.