Thumbprint cookies are similar to sablé cookies. They both have the texture of shortbread. The characteristic thumbprint shape is created by pressing down on the cookie with a spoon half-way through the baking process. A sweet filling is placed in the resulting cavity. The cookie itself has a mild sweetness that goes very well with the sweeter filling. The filling can be jam, preserves, caramel or even chocolate.
I chose a pink mint filling because of my little five-year-old sister-in-law. She came to me with the cutest request. She adores Cookie Monster, and often shares her cookies with the Cookie Monster doll we got her. Today, she came to me, hid her face with the stuffed animal and said in her best Cookie Monster impersonation, "Cookie Monster is hungry, I want pink cookies." My heart melted; I can't say no to my little munchkin.
All the girls gathered in the kitchen and pink cookies it was. I looked in the pantry and found several choices for a pink-colored cookie. Some pink-colored mint chocolate chips from Guittard, raspberry and strawberry extracts or rose paste. The girls voted and we went for a rose-flavored cookie dough with pink mint chocolate filling. Sunny, my 13-year-old eldest sister-in-law wanted to create some fun design in the filling, so we melted some bittersweet chocolate and vanilla chips as well. This has to be some fun designs.
We were all very happy with our unique cookies and needless to say, Cookie Monster also enjoyed our creation.
Servings: 20 cookies
1 egg yolk, optional (see tips for egg allergy)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 tablespoons powdered sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rose paste, as needed (depending on how pink you want the cookies)
2 ounces pink-colored mint chocolate chips
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate chips
1 ounce vanilla chips, (or white chocolate chips)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg yolk with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. Add the vanilla extract.
In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Sift all the dry ingredients.
Cream 8 tablespoons of butter with the remaining powdered sugar (whisk using the handheld mixer to get as much air as possible into the butter). Add the egg mixture and the dry ingredients. Mix with your fingers until the cookie dough is formed. Add the rose paste. Do NOT overmix. Transfer the dough into a bowl. Plastic wrap it and place it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
For the pink mint, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla ganache, use or make a double boiler. Place a pot filled with hot water, topped with a piece of cloth so the bowl does not move and place a stainless-steel bowl filled with the pink mint chocolate chips on top. Melt the chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of butter, a tablespoon of heavy cream and a teaspoon of corn syrup. Repeat the same procedure with the bittersweet chocolate and the vanilla chips with only 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 tablespoon of heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon of corn syrup for each remaining filling. Set aside. (See tips if the filling hardens)
Shape the cookie dough into 20 1-inch diameter balls. Place them on a baking tray lined with a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes at 350°F. Open the oven. Press the center of the cookie using a melon baller or any small spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let them cool down completely to room temperature before taking them off the cookie sheets. They will harden and get firm as they cool down. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of pink mint chocolate filling in each thumbprint. Using a chopstick, drop a little bittersweet chocolate filling and a drop of vanilla filling using another chopstick and immediately swirl the filling using a toothpick. Let the filling set until firm.
Enjoy with a tall glass of sharbat (Indian milk drink, scroll down for the picture).
Make sure to press the cookies half-way through the cooking time to get nice fault lines on the edge of the cookies.
My 9-year-old sister-in-law is allergic to eggs, so we tried the same recipe without the egg yolk. Just mix all the powdered sugar into the butter. The verdict is that it's feasible but the cookie is more crumbly and far less cohesive. The egg yolk is a powerful binding agent.
For other allergy reasons, I did not decorate the thumbprint cookies with nuts. You can coat the cookies in milk, then garnish the outside ring of the cookies with 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios or any other nuts if you want, right before placing in the oven.
I used Guittard peels for the ganache. I used pink mint peels, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla chips. I bought them at a local store, called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040, but you can order through eBay if you can't find them. Make crème brulées or chocolate pot de crèmes with the rest of the chocolate chips.
For the double boiler, I always like to add a little kitchen towel underneath the chocolate filled bowl. The bowl won't jiggle and there won't be any splatter of water in your chocolate. If the chocolate hardens, place the bowl back in the double boiler.
I added some heavy cream to the chocolate to make the mixture smoother and more glossy. You can add any other dairy liquid, such as regular milk, or even omit this part if you want a thicker texture.
I buy Koepoe-Koepoe pastes. There are rose, mocha and pandan flavors. You can find them in any Asian stores or at VeryAsia.com.
You can store the cookies in an airtight metallic tin for up to a week to keep them fresh. If you prefer them harder, just let them cool out or place them in a regular cookie jar or simply eat them all, like Cookie Monster did .