Mania (Part 2)

With the cheesecake pecan bars in the fridge, Emily and I got to work on the Salty Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints. As the person with more baking experience Emily took control of this overly ambitious monster project and I basically just read the directions, followed her lead, and washed dishes.

Salty Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons kosher salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at a very soft room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar, plus 1 cup for finishing the cookies
2 large egg yolks, at room temperatures
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Nutella

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl.

Combine the butter and 1 1/3 cups of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat for about 2 minutes on low speed, until fluffy, then add the egg yolks, cream and vanilla extract; beat on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Place the remaining cup of sugar in a shallow bowl.

Scoop 30 to 35 heaping tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets. Shape each mound of dough into a ball, then roll it in the remaining sugar to coat evenly. Space the balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, then use your thumb to make an indentation in the top of each cookie, gently flattening the cookies a bit as you work.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes or until the edges are just set; the tops of the cookies will be soft. (If the indentations have lost definition, press the centers again immediately after you remove the cookies from the oven.) Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Pipe or spoon the Nutella into the center of each cookie while the cookies are still slightly warm.

Serve or store once the Nutella centers have slightly set.

Note: Unbaked, scooped cookies stored in an airtight container will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or 1 month in the freezer. Baked and filled cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

These salty chocolate nutella thumbprints were definitely the winner of the baking marathon. Each bite was incredibly intense — so chocolatey, so salty, and so hazelnutty. It wasn’t just a huge burst of flavor from one of those three, it was a huge burst of flavor from all three. I was addicted to these cookies and ate a few each morning with my coffee until I realized I had a problem and unloaded the cookies on my co-workers who raved about them.

Once the last of the salty chocolate nutella thumbprints were out of the oven, Emily and I looked at each other and realizing we still had one more set of cookies to bake, we laughed and laughed. We also silently agreed that in addition to being overly ambitious, we were ridiculous, but that’s what makes life fun and delicious so we proceeded to the final batch of cookies. At this point, I was exhausted and toeing the line of delirium so Emily did most of the work on the Cherry Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies.

Cherry Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup (2 ounces) raw, unsalted pistachios
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick-cooking or instant oats)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line one of two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Spread the pistachios on the unlined baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes, until toasted. Cool completely, then coarsely chop. Line that baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl, then stir in the rolled oats.

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed for about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla extract, beating on low speed until incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Gradually add the flour mixture, beating (on low) just until combined.

Stir in the toasted, chopped pistachios and the dried cherries until evenly distributed.

Scoop 12 heaping tablespoons of the batter onto each baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden and the centers are barely set. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely before serving or storing. Repeat to use all of the dough.

NOTE: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Out of the three cookies Emily and I made that fateful Sunday afternoon, these were the most underrated especially compared to the intense richness of the cheesecake pecan bars and the saltiness and chocolatey-ness of the salty chocolate nutella thumbprints. Still, they were very good cookies. The pinch of nutmeg in addition to the pistachios and cherries gave the cookies a holiday feel. And of course using oatmeal, pistachios, and dried cherries made the cookies seem, if not healthy, than at least little bit less likely to give you a heart attack.

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