December 05, 2010

Nutty Chocolate Thumbprints

During the Thanksgiving holiday, my son and I worked together to make a batch of cookies, using a recipe from the most recent issue of Cook's Country magazine.  Like the Blackberry Bliss Bars I wrote about a few days ago, the recipe for Nutty Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints was a finalist in this year's Christmas Cookie contest.  The recipe makes a pretty basic thumbprint cookie - a ball of dough is pressed down to make an indentation in top, into which is put some sort of filling (jam, in this case).  I thought they looked pretty good, and had been awaiting an opportunity to try them out.  The holiday provided that opportunity.

As it happens, the amount of pecans I had on hand was less than that called for in the recipe, but Juli's parents thankfully had a good substitute:  hickory nuts.  They taste pretty close to pecans, enough so that they don't clash with the pecans, yet are different enough to provide a distinct flavor of their own.  The directions called for one to roll balls of the dough into chopped, roasted nuts, pressing to make the nuts adhere, but that didn't work out quite so easily as written.  Most of the time rolling the dough in the bits of nuts resulted in the nuts falling right back out of the dough, so we had to squeeze bits of nut directly into the cookie.

Although the printed recipe called for raspberry jam, I decided to fill some of the cookies with strawberry jam instead, for variety of appearance and flavor.  I thought both varieties of the resulting cookie tasted pretty good, but some people had a definite preference for the ones with raspberry jam.

Nutty Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
filled with strawberry jam
And some with raspberry jam
At the end of the recipe, we encountered another tricky bit.  The recipe called for melting white chocolate and drizzling it in lines across the tops of the cookies, and gave instructions for putting the melted white chocolate in a plastic bag, snipping a small hole in one corner of the bag and squeezing the chocolate through the hole.   One was supposed to get results like this:

Nutty Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints, nicely
drizzled with white chocolate.   Photo is the property
of Boston Common Press.
That sounded pretty nice in theory, but in practice, it didn't work out quite so neatly. 

The first time around, the white chocolate came out well enough for the first couple cookies, but the hole in the bag quickly got gummed up, and the chocolate started coming out unevenly no matter how often I cleaned off the stuff by the hole.  Further, after a few cookies, the bag burst.  I suspected that maybe the chocolate had been too hot, thus weakening the bag, or simply too thick, so I tried again.  The second time I stirred a teaspoonful of vegetable oil into the melting chocolate to help keep it liquid, and I also waited a couple minutes for the white chocolate to cool.   I got the same result, though... the white chocolate flowed okay for a few seconds, then started glopping up the hole in the bag, and in short order the second bag also split.

As you can see, the best effort I could get from the "squeeze the chocolate through the corner of the bag" technique doesn't exactly match the finesse of the photo printed in the magazine.  I ended up using a knife to spread a bit of the white chocolate on most of the cookies, with the results looking significantly less attractive than the ones above.   They tasted great, though.

I liked the cookies quite a bit, despite the fiasco with the white chocolate.  I'm planning to make some more soon, and to fill them with a greater variety of jams.  I'm also trying to find out why the bag trick didn't work (I've posted on the Cook's Country bulletin board and Facebook pages, but so far nobody has been able to suggest what went wrong), and to come up with a different (and hopefully more successful) way to get the desired result.

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