These are on our annual holiday cookies list. My side of the family fills the tops with colored frosting or chocolate frosting, and my husband’s side of the family fills them with jam, but Nutella is also a good choice. The butter cookies are rolled in crushed pecans and baked, with the thumbprint added mid-bake.
[Updated December 24, 2009.]
Makes about 36 cookies.
stand mixer with paddle attachment
cookie sheets, ungreased (or lined with parchment for easy cleanup)
small plate (for rolling cookies in nuts)
1 cup (2 sticks/225 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 cups (240 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites, slightly beaten until frothy
2 cups (200 g) finely chopped pecans
8 tablespoons (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
16 ounces (454 g) confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C.
2. COOKIES: In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and egg yolk, then gradually add flour and salt. Stir until well-blended.
3. Roll dough into 1″ balls. Dip in slightly beaten egg white, then roll in chopped nuts. Place about 1″ apart on cookie sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and quickly press thumb gently on top of each cookie. Return to oven and bake about 8 minutes longer.
5. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Place a spoonful of jelly, icing, or chocolate in each thumbprint.
6. FROSTING: Cream butter, egg and salt. Add sugar until spreading consistency. (For chocolate icing, reduce confectioners sugar by 2 tablespoons whisk the rest with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.)