The holidays always remind me that I’m not Martha Stewart. My house does not become a festive winter wonderland ready to be captured on the cover of the some high-end products catalog as the McMansion of the month. I string lights around my mantle but the wires show, (which is very uncatalog-like) and my Christmuka tree is “realistic” but not real. Presents I wrap don’t have perfect edges or artistic bows and the invisible tape is not quite invisible.
But I can cook. So I do that, a lot of that, and I have to say, it makes me happy and fills me with a holiday spirit that is as real as my tree isn’t. And when you deliver a batch of cookies to someone, like I just did to the ladies in the office at my daughter’s school, it feels right and it defines the holidays for me in a way that all the picture perfect Christmas catalogs can’t get close to. Giving. Feeding. Nourishing. Sharing. Taking the time to surprise someone with a gift. Food gifts are one way to bundle all that into one tin, brown bag or box. Make something and give it away and you are not just giving food, but your time, your love, your energy, your planning, your thoughts and your effort.
Here is a simple recipe for a delicious, buttery cookie you don’t have to be a great cook to make well. Put some holiday music on in the kitchen…
Give these a try and then give them away!
Wishing you a happy, messy, unperfect and perfectly wonderful holiday season! xoxo Rachel
- yield: About 5 dozen
Chocolate Ganache Thumbprint Cookies
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder (omit if making thumbprints, ball cookies, or spritz cookies)
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup crushed peppermints or walnuts (optional)
Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy (I prefer the paddle attachment for this, if you have one). Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined. The dough will be somewhat crumbly and look almost like fudge. (Make ahead alert: Dough can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in crushed candies or nuts (optional), if using. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each 1 inch apart. (Tip: to make this part easier and more efficient, I take a big hunk of the dough and roll it out on the counter top into a long tube about 1-iunch in diameter. Then I cut the dough into even 1-inch pieces and then roll each piece into a ball. Try it this way…it beats standing there and individually scooping out five dozen balls of dough!)
Press a well into the center of each using your finger, the tip of a wooden spoon or the back of a small measuring spoon (see picture). Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Remove from oven, and press well again to preserve it’s shape. Return cookies to oven and bake until firm, 7 to 9 minutes more.
Make ganache: melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir to distribute heat. Melted chocolate may be warm enough to melt remaining hard chocolate without heating in microwave further. If not, continue to heat in 10 second intervals until chocolate is fully melted. Warm cream for 30 seconds in the microwave. Add warmed cream to melted chocolate and combine fully. (Adding cold cream will make the chocolate seize up. If this happens add a tablespoon or two of boiling hot water to the chocolate mixture and stir until softened and smooth again. Cool mixture completely at room temp or in the refrigerator before using.
Spoon ganache into thumbprints and let the ganache set for 30 minutes or more before serving. Tip: The neatest and most efficient way to fill the cookies is to place the ganache in a plastic squeeze bottle or pastry bag fitted with a narrow decorating tip and pipe or squeeze the glance into the well. You can also use a plastic bag, with a very small corner cut off to pipe the ganache in.