Posted on Monday, 24th May 2010 by Grace Massa Langlois
I spent Sunday afternoon making Chocolate Thumbprints and Dark Chocolate-Almond Crackles for my niece’s (Vera) bridal shower. I made Chocolate Thumbprints for the first time last year and everyone quite enjoyed them so I decided to make them again.
The Chocolate-Vanilla Bean Ganache filling is luscious, silky and rich. I used an intense mint-dark chocolate this time. The mint, vanilla bean, cream and honey were an impressive combination. The recipe makes quite a bit of ganache but I plan on putting it to good use. It will be perfect reheated and drizzled on ice cream.
I found the cookie dough was a little crumbly when I made them the first time but thankfully this time the dough was very smooth, a little sticky but much easier to work with, especially when making the indentations for the ganache.
I recently purchased the latest edition of Martha Stewart Living and I spotted the recipe for Dark Chocolate-Almond Crackles. I knew immediately these cookies would become a family favourite; the marriage of chocolate and nuts is a winning combination. I think my favourite part about baking these cookies was the aroma permeating throughout the house, chocolate baking and toasting nuts – absolutely divine!
One very important tip I would like to pass on; you must refrigerate the cookie dough prior to rolling for at least an hour, it is extremely sticky. The dough warms pretty quickly; I placed it in the fridge in between batches to make it easier to roll.
My sisters (Connie and Anna) stopped by just as I was taking the first batch of crackles out of the oven. The Dark Chocolate-Almond Crackles got thumbs up; they both enjoyed the intense chocolate flavour and the toasted almond pairing.
It was unfortunate that I only made one batch of each; they were so tasty! I insisted it was hands off until the bridal shower in a few weeks.
It was very difficult being indoors baking; I can’t remember the last time the weather was so beautiful for the long weekend. Other than Saturday, the sun has been shining and it is so warm. I had the perfect view to the neighbourhood fireworks last night; the sky was dancing with beautiful colours. Sako (my yellow lab) was so excited, the fireworks were going off and he thought he was in the bush for the moose or partridge hunt (he was in his glory, so funny!). Unfortunately, Kisses (my Lhasa Poo) didn’t share the same excitement; she was completely terrified and wouldn’t leave my daughter’s (Liana) side.
I hope you all enjoy what’s left of the long weekend! If you have a chance please take a visit to our Image Gallery.
Dark Chocolate-Almond Crackles and Chocolate Thumbprints
- How to Blanch Almonds
- Dark Chocolate-Almond Crackles
- Chocolate Thumbprints
- Chocolate-Vanilla Bean Ganache
How to Blanch Almonds
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with two layers of paper towel, set-aside. Place almonds in a heatproof bowl.
- In a small saucepan, bring water (enough to cover the amount of almonds you require) to a boil over high heat.
- Pour water over almonds and let stand, 1 minute (no longer or the almonds will lose their crispiness).
- Drain water. Rinse almonds under cold water and drain again.
- Place almonds in a single layer on the paper towel lined baking sheet and pat dry.
- To remove the skins, using your thumb and forefinger pinch one end of each almond (almonds will pop out of the skin), discard skin.
- Lay the almonds, in a single layer, on a baking sheet to air dry. (If you are toasting almonds, immediately place in preheated oven and toast for the required amount of time indicated in your recipe.)
Dark Chocolate-Almond Crackles
(from Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living)
Makes about 4 dozen
- 150 g (1 cup) blanched almonds, toasted
- 226 g (8 ounces) dark chocolate, 70%, finely chopped
- 63 g (½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Coarse Salt
- 113 g (½ cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 200 g (1 cup) light brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 125 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Place almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes. Let cool.
- Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
- Pulse almonds in a food processor until very finely chopped and transfer to a medium bowl. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift flour, baking powder, and ½-teaspoon salt over almonds; whisk to combine well.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at-a-time, beating to just combine. Add the vanilla and the chocolate and beat just to combine, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally.
- Reduce mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 3 additions and beat to combine. Remove bowl from mixer, cover and refrigerate dough until firm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Form dough into 2.5-cm (1-inch) balls. Roll first in granulated sugar to coat, then in confectioners’ sugar to coat. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat, spacing about 2.5-cm (1 inch) apart.
- Bake, rotating sheets halfway through baking time, until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cool.
(from Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living)
Makes about 7 dozen
- 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 102 g (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch-process
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 226 g (1 cup or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 267 g (1 1/3 cups) granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
- 2 large egg yolks
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) heavy cream, 35%
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, add egg yolks one at a time, cream, and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in flour-cocoa mixture, 1/3 at a time, until just combined.
- Roll balls using 2 teaspoons dough for each, and roll each in sugar. Spacing 2.5-cm (1-inch) apart, arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the centre of each to create an indentation. (Sometimes when making indentations the cookie dough balls crack at the sides, for best presentation I usually wrap my thumb and forefinger around each cookie and press in gently to return the cookie back to perfect form, doing this will also prevent the ganache from oozing out when cookies are filled.)
- Bake, rotating sheets halfway through baking time, until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (If indentations lose definition, press centres again.) Let cool slightly on baking sheets and transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
- Spoon warm ganache into centre of each cookie. Let stand until firm, about 30 minutes. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
Chocolate-Vanilla Bean Ganache
Makes about 240 ml (1 cup)
- 107 g (1/3 cup) honey
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) heavy cream
- ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded, pod reserved
- 113 g (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 28 g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
- In a small saucepan, bring honey, cream, vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer over medium heat, stirring continuously until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand, 20 minutes.
- Place chocolate in a food processor. Return cream mixture to a simmer, then strain through a fine sieve, discard solids. Pour cream mixture over chocolate, and let stand for 1 minute. Process until smooth. Add butter, and continue to process, scraping down sides occasionally, until butter is combined well. Let cool slightly, and then use immediately.
Tags: after school treat, afternoon tea, almond cookies, almonds, chocolate, chocolate cookies, chocolate dessert, chocolate recipes, Christmas Cookies, cookie batter, cookie dough, cookie fillings, cookie recipes, entertaining, ganache, gourmet cookies, Holiday Cookies, Martha Stewart cookies, Martha Stewart recipes, simple cookie recipes
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Biscotti, Cookies, Custards, Creams & Mousses, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Ricette di Base