I wouldn’t feel right if it didn’t post a new cookie recipe during the month of December.
With that being said, I haven’t been baking that much. I’ve found most of the cookie recipes that came out this year felt gimmicky and were created solely for the purpose of likes on Instagram. (I’m talking lots of bright colors and an excessive amount of sprinkles.) In my mind, most holiday cookies should come in shades of beige – shortbread, snowballs, linzer cookies. That is where my allegiance lies. I’ve been combing through the backlogs of some of my favorite blogs. Unearthing recipes that are in line with what I really want to eat – rugelach, brown butter shortbread, ginger cookies.
This isn’t to say all the 2019 cookies recipes were a disappointment. The one that spoke to me successfully straddled the line between tradition (thumbprints) and new (dulce de leche) – it was a perfect marriage of old and new and the resulting cookie received such rave reviews from the guinea pigs in my office that I think it’s going to become a permanent fixture in holiday cookie box.
Thumbprints With Dulce de Leche
Recipe from the NYTimes
The NYTimes shares a bunch of variations so these are truly a “choose-your-own adventure” cookie. Below, this includes the variation I made.
3 ounces/85 grams whole pecans (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
2 ¼ cups/290 grams all-purpose flour, plus 2 teaspoons
1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
⅔ cup/135 grams granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup dulce de leche
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans out on a small baking sheet and cook in oven, shaking several times, until toasted, 10 to 12 minutes.
Once cooled, transfer the nuts to a food processor, preferably a mini one. Add 2 teaspoons flour and pulse just until nuts are finely ground, being careful not to overprocess.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Add egg yolks and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl a few times as needed.
Add 1/2 cup ground nuts, the salt and the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour; beat on low speed just until combined, then increase speed and beat until dough starts to clump together. Scrape the bowl and fold a few times to make sure everything is well mixed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pinch off small pieces of dough the size of a rounded tablespoon (about 20 grams each) and roll the top half of each one in the remaining ground nuts. Place a few inches apart on parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheets. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.
Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven and make a thumbprint in each cookie. Bake until golden brown on the bottom, and nuts are looking toasty but not burned, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets and transfer to wire racks to cool further. While the cookies are still a little warm, fill each one with about 1/2 teaspoon of filling, and cool completely. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.