A few weeks ago, I was asked if I’d like to participate in a cookie swap with some coworkers at one of my schools. My initial reaction was no, because I already had a ton of baking planned for the holidays and the list of invitees looked pretty long. A few days later when the swap organizer sent out an email indicating who had signed up so far, the list looked significantly shorter – so I figured, why not. Well, apparently a few other people had the same thought, because when the final list came out there were 11 of us! Luckily, everyone agreed that 11 dozen cookies was a lot to bake given everything else going on around the holidays, and we decided to do 8 cookies per person instead of the full dozen.
As soon as I decided I was in, I knew exactly what I was going to make. I had seen these cookies on Annie’s Eats just days earlier, and couldn’t wait to give them a try. I’m so glad I did- they turned out great, as Daren can attest (he ate about 6 before I could even package them up). I have a feeling I’ll be making these again soon!
Although traditionally thumbprint cookies are made with, well, your thumb, Annie recommended using a wine cork to get a more even indentation. I gave it a shot using a synthetic cork and was really happy with the result! The wine cork also gave me a deeper indentation (which means room for more filling!) I did notice that as the dough warmed up, the cork would start sticking – wiping the cork off every once in a while helped, and if the dough gets too warm you can always stick it back in the refrigerator.
For the dough:
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped (a few pulses in a food processor will take care of this)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of coarse salt
- 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
To make the dough, beat the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in the sugars and continue beating on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes more. Blend in the vanilla extract. Add the pecans, salt, and flour and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Cover the bowl and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill the dough for about 30-60 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, corn syrup, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk just until blended. Stir in the coarsely chopped pecans.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Using about 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls. Place the dough balls on the baking sheets 2-3 inches apart. Use your thumb (or a wine cork) to make a small round indentation in the center of each dough ball. Fill each indentation with some of the pecan filling mixture.
Bake the cookies, rotating the pans halfway through, until light golden and set, about 16-18 minutes total. Cool briefly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Yum!
Yield: 2-3 dozen, depending on how big you make the cookies
Source: Annie’s Eats