Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thumbs up to Christmas

I guess sometimes you can just loathe the idea of using the kitchen. Especially when you are busy and reinvigorating your love of teaching. It’s not that that I didn’t cook some creative things. I roasted duck for the first time in my life back in September and, according to the Frog, it turned out perfectly. I’ve just spent so much time trying to be creative all day at school that all I wanted to do at home was crash. Well known, quick recipes have been the norm. No Boeuf Bourguignon. No sushi. Nothing that required too much planning or thought. But now that reporting period is over and I feel more in the swing of things at school, I’m coming back to haunt the foodie blog halls. After all, who can resist the temptation of Christmas baking. I’m already ten-fold happier with the scent of spilled cinnamon wafting up from my be-floured clothes and the multi-coloured lights glimmering around the computer nook window.

I’m actually playing around with a recipe right now that has been one of my less favourite family Christmas cookies--the well-known thumbprint. When you are in the mood for them they are so perfectly sweet and rich with their dabble of nuts and little cup of gooey jam. But I’m often not in the mood for them because I find them too sweet and, okay, let’s face it—I really don’t like the walnuts on them. So I’m on the hunt for a good thumbprint recipe that will satisfy a sweet tooth without being too cloying and a little less walnutty. I'm not even sure what I'm looking for. I'll know when I've found it. ;-)

Experiment thumbprint cookie # 1 : Chocolate thumbprint cookies
Source: One Smart Cookie by Julie Van Rosendaal
Tweaks: for half the recipe, I added chestnut spread in the indentation
Marks out of 10: 8 (quite good as a carrier but base can't stand on its own as well)

¼ cup stick margarine or butter, softened (I used salted butter)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup ( I used golden)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp water
1 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼- 1/3 cup raspberry jam or other preserves ( I used raspberry for ½ the batch and
chestnut for the other ½)

icing sugar for sprinkling (optional) (I used ground up pink decorating sugar for
the raspberry preserves and cinnamon for the chestnut spread)

* Preheat oven to 375ºF
* In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until well-blended. Beat in corn syrup, egg, vanilla, and coffee until smooth
* In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the sugar mixture and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough.
* Roll dough into 1” – 1 1/2” balls, and place 1” – 2” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray (I actually used parchment paper and it worked just fine). Make an indentation in the middle of each cookie with your thumb ( I dusted my thumb with flour after I found the dough too sticky to use just my thumb). Fill each dent with jam.
* Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until just set around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you like, sprinkle cooked cookies with icing sugar (or crushed sugar/ cinnamon in my case)
* Makes 2 dozen cookies.

My thoughts:
(1)The chocolate dough acts as a good carrier for a more prominently-flavoured filling. The French chestnut spread I had was relatively weak in flavour to stand on its own but with a touch of cinnamon it was certainly elevated. Raspberry, of course, took center stage and needed little help. In fact, it made the chocolate really come out in the base cookie.
(2)The timing they give was probably fine for a less finicky oven as mine. Keeping it to a 11 minute period was just fine and made the cookie more chewy, which I like. You really have to be careful with the timing of cooking. The first batch was a bit dark around the edges because I relied on the book’s timings instead of instinct.

The results


linda said...

Good to see you back Nerissa!

Nerissa said...

Ta, hun! It feels good to be back :D

sher said...

Welcome back!!!!!! I missed you! And you baked us some fabulous cookies too! :):) Yum!

s'kat said...

Hey chick, good to see you again! It does indeed seem to be that time of year... those cookies are a nice start.

wheresmymind said...

Glad to see ya posting again! I so dig raspberry thumb cookays!

Nerissa said...

Hey thanks everyone! I missed you guys too!

sher: Well you didn't think I'd come back empty-handed did ya? ;-)

s'kat: It's a great time to remember why you love to cook and hate the scale LOL

wmm: raspberry has to be one of the best jams for thumbies.

christine said...

Hey Nerissa - It's so good to see you back in the blog world again! As you can see from your other friends, you have been missed, and by me too!
Great thumbprint cookies.

iamchanelle said...

hey nerissa! thanks so much for "stopping by"! i have been out a while myself, so it is nice to know one is still loved... :)

and i so loooooooove raspberry thumbprints - thanks for the idea of the chocolate base - yum!

Nerissa said...

Hey, Christine :D Thanks for stoppin' in. I'm glad to be back. It's nice to be missed but it's better to be back *S*

Heya chanelle... It's indeed nice to know how much one is missed. :D

Oooh... this one turned out better than I expected! I've NEVER seen The Frog take to cookies this way except chocolate chip (as if anyone could hate those LOL). This just may become the new thumbprint recipe in my house!

Mimi J. said...

Those look lovely. If you can cook and teach fulltime, I have the utmost respect and admiration for you. I find two hours a week wipe me out.

Nerissa said...

Many thanks, mimi j.
I don't know about cooking full time. But I try. Teaching is a very energy draining job :D but I love it.

Melissa CookingDiva said...

Nerissa, they look scruptious and beautiful! Una abrazo,

PatL said...

Funny, I just printed off the recipe for white chocolate pistachio thumbprint cookies with lemon, from Creampuffs in Venice. Interested?