Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies - made March 18, 2018, adapted from Parsley Sage Sweet
Here’s an eye-pleasing cookie that will also please your taste buds and can easily be tailored to different tastes. I love thumbprint cookies for their versatility. Although, pro-tip: please do not take the “thumbprint” part literally. As in, don’t use your thumb to make the indents in the cookies. Instead, use the back of a teaspoon or half teaspoon to push a shallow “well” in the middle. Why? For one thing, it makes for a more uniform well for your filling. For another, would you want to eat a cookie that someone’s thumb poked into being? #Ithinknot

The dough is easy to make and to work with. It can also be easily made ahead of time and baked off whenever needed. Roll into small-ish dough balls. If you make the cookies too large, they lose that cuteness factor. Make the wells in the center of the cookies with the aforementioned recommended teaspoon. You can freeze them at this point until you’re ready to bake them off. For super obvious reasons, don’t just roll into dough balls and then freeze without first making the center wells.
When baking, keep an eye on the cookies. You want to take them out when they’re about 2-3 minutes from being done and re-impress the centers with a deeper indent in case the center wells flattened out in baking. I use a handy little tool from the Pampered Chef that I bought years and years ago that’s called a tart shaper. Make the wells a little deeper without squishing it all the way down, return to the oven to finish baking then take out when edges are golden.

You can fill these with your favorite filling. The original recipe called for melted white chocolate ganache and feuilletine but I cheated and simplified to cookie butter for some and Nutella for others. You can do jams or jellies (not my fave but to each his/her own), peanut butter, caramel, dulce de leche and so on. The world’s your oyster, er, thumbprint. For a smooth filling look, I melted the cookie butter for 30 seconds in the microwave and, while it was still in liquid state, poured the filling into the center well of each cookie. It sets as it cools although it will still remain soft. Same with the Nutella as well as dulce de leche and peanut butter.
These cookies have a similar taste and texture to Mexican Wedding Cakes without the powdered sugar coating so they can be a bit fragile. When making the dough balls, pack the cookie dough ball firmly together. They’ll spread out at the edges when you press the center for the filling well but you don’t want the edges to spread too far apart or leave a gap where the filling can leak through. I liked this version, both with cookie butter and Nutella. The filling makes a nice contrast to the crunchy, toasted pecans and the buttery goodness of the cookie itself.

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled

Filling: cookie butter, Nutella, peanut butter, dulce de leche, jam, jelly  - your choice
  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Beat in the flour until combined; do not overmix. Fold in the chopped pecans. Form into small dough balls and press the back of a teaspoon or half teaspoon into the center to create a well for the filling. Cover, chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space cookies on prepared sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. After 10-12 minutes, remove cookies from oven and re-impress the center wells with the back of a teaspoon or the end of a tart shaper.
  3. While cookies are cooling, melt your desired filling slightly (less than 30 seconds in the microwave for cookie butter or Nutella) then pour into the center of each cookie, filling each well. Do not let overflow. 

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