Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies / Ravel's "Petit Poucet"

The charming simplicity of thumbprint cookies has always appealed to me. But after tasting one, I would inevitably find myself disappointed by a crumbly, dry, and flavorless cookie.

This recipe, however, yielded moist, buttery cookies coated in prettily sparkling raw sugar -- with just the right dose of silky, rich, melts-in-your-mouth dark chocolate.

{this recipe calls for raw sugar, also known as "demerara" or "turbinado" sugar}
{we had a lot of fun molding the dough into balls and making the indentations}
{the thumbprint can be as deep or as wide as you like depending on how much chocolate you'd like to fill it with}
{ganache over the double boiler}
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from Sunset Magazine

For the cookie dough:
1 cup (1/2 pound) butter, at room temperature
1/2  cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
About 1/3 scant cup raw (such as turbinado or demerara) sugar

For the ganache:
6 ounces bitersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on high speed until smooth. Add in the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt by hand until blended. Reduce the speed of the electric mixer to low and gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill until the dough is firm but still pliable, about 30 minutes. While waiting, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Place about 1/3 cup of the raw sugar on a plate. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the sugar until evenly coated. Place the cookies one inch apart on a buttered or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Make the indentations by pressing your thumb into the center of each cookie. The indentations should be about 1/2 an inch deep. 

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. If you're baking more than one pan, rotate them halfway through baking. If the indentations you made have puffed back up, you can reshape them while they are still warm on the cookie sheet. (Do not do this on your cooling rack as you will effectively be pushing the still-pliable dough through the grating of your cooling rack, resulting in unevenly shaped bottoms.) Transfer to a rack to cool. 

Meanwhile, prepare the ganache. In a double boiler, combine all the ganache ingredients over barely simmering water until blended. Remove from the stove and let cool about 15 minutes, until thick but not hardened. 

Fill each indentation with about 1 teaspoon of the ganache. Let the filled cookies stand until the ganache is firm, about 1 hour.

{these keep well with no dry-out for several days in an airtight container}
For a musical pairing, enjoy Ravel's musical retelling of the "Tom Thumb" fairytale. The French version of the pint-sized boy is far less macabre than the English-language version -- in which Tom gets eaten and regurgitated by various creatures before meeting his untimely death via spider bite.  In the French version, entitled "Le Petit Poucet" (and painted so sweetly and innocently by Ravel in this piece), Tom steals a pair of magical boots, and presumably lives happily ever after. 

Wishing you an equally magical year ahead!


  1. oh my, these look absolutely delicious!


  2. Ciao Maia, I've done similar cookies we call Ovis Molis...the shape is the same but I do not think the dough is the same since we use the yokes boiled to give a real sablé effect. But I'm dreaming on these little jewels and I would like very much to try them.
    I'd like to invite you to come visit me this Friday, for a special little party, where we won't speak about food but we will play with music! It will be funny! Ciao cara, have a nice week!

  3. wow those cookies looks amazing! i love how detailed the recipe process is! I will def try this out!

    love from San Francisco,

  4. these look amazing and oh-so delicious!

    we're au courant

  5. These look so yummy - I'll be sure to try them!

  6. Maia, these look SO much more tasty filled with chocolate ganache (and rolled in turbinado sugar) than their dry, jam-filled cousins. Thanks for a delightful variation -- for the music, too!

  7. This loooks soo yum! your recipes always look so delicious

    Sugar Filled Closet + Newest Blog Post: Purple Monday