There aren’t many types of food in the world that I am allergic to. Maybe eating a bit too spicy food, or a bit too much chocolate every now and then make me itchy. I do not have lactose intolerance either – that is something I did not even hear of before I came to Finland. And there is one thing that is incredibly tasty but makes me incredibly itchy: almonds!
This recipe calls for toasted almonds. Of course you can also bake these cookies without toasting the almonds, but the quick, 15 minutes of almond processing is something that I recommend you not to miss: toasting brings out the flavour of almonds very intensively. It also gives a very nice colour, which will be eventually the dominant colour of the outer shell of your cookies. So do toast them…
I guess you can guess what happened when I baked these cookies… When I smelled the freshly toasted almonds… I ate loads of them… And the next few days I gave myself a few nice itches. Ah, but it was worth it, really.
I adopted this recipe from the wonder woman of baking, Stephanie Jaworski’s Joy of Baking website. Until then I had tried a few thumbprint cookie recipes, but in every single one of them I ended up with some monstrous or weird looking cookie. Either the cookies spread too much and the jam spread away equally, or the jam and cookie dough united in a very strange way etc.. But this one, as usual, is full proof.
The recipe for this one portion I am giving below makes about 15-20 cookies. If you want to make more, just double the portion.
113 gr. butter, room temperature
50 gr. granulated white sugar
1 egg, separated to yolk & white
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt (if you are using salted butter, you can skip this or not)
3/4 cups almonds, toasted (you can also use different nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts etc. but the best result – unfortunate for me – is with almonds)
1/2 cup raspberry jam (blackberry jam suits well as well, but the best is raspberry jam)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Put a baking sheet on an oven tray and spread the almonds evenly on the sheet. Put it in the heated oven for about 15 minutes, until the almonds get brown (be careful not to burn them). When they are ready, take them out of the oven and crush them into small pieces using a blender (or just crush with your hands, if you want bigger pieces). Set aside the crushed almonds.
3. In a large mixing bowl, put butter and beat it with electric mixer until it gets creamy (you can also use a normal whisk if you do not have an electric mixer). Clean the sides of the bowl and the whisking tools in the middle to make sure that all the butter is turned creamy.
7. When you get a result that looks like just crumbles, stop the mixer and take the mixer from the mixing bowl to another one that is easier for kneading (or use the same bowl if it is easy to knead in it). Knead it for a few minutes until you get a soft, non sticky and smooth dough. In that phase, the dough will be a bit too soft to make balls, so just wrap it with a stretch film and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. If your dough feels like hard enough already to make balls, just go ahead without chilling in the fridge. But do remember that the cookies tend to spread less and keep their form better while baking if they are a bit chilled!
8. When the dough is ready to make balls take it out of the fridge. Put the egg white on a plate, the crushed almonds on another plate. Try to use plates that I used in the pictures, having them quite flat makes it easy to roll but since the sides are still a bit deep it does not get messy all around.
9. Start making balls from your dough. I take 1 tablespoon from the dough using my measuring spoon and turn into a ball. Well, as you can see they are not 100% equal in size but it’s ok, I am not a factory after all.
12. Now comes the phase of filling the holes with jam. You can do it by using a small spoon. I, on the other hand, used a piping bag and a small nozzle, it was easier to handle (see the phase of filling piping bag in the first photo below). Do not over fill the cookies, and do not fill them less than the holes themselves either. I try to fill them just until the surface of the hole and it is mostly fine.
13. When all the cookies are filled, put them in the oven, in the middle rack and bake for about 15 minutes, until they get brownish. Take them out when they are ready. They will be quite soft when they are first out of the oven, so leave them to cool like that for a while.
The cookies taste best in a few hours so for instance you can bake them in the morning and serve perfectly with afternoon tea. They also taste great in the following few days, when kept in room temperature in a nicely covered bowl. These are seriously delicious with an elegant look and an elegant taste, so please and please try them!