In my search for new Christmas cookie recipes, this one stood out. Almond shortbread with chocolate made my day. I made them too big, so they weren't quite as cute as they could have been, but lesson learned - next time I'll use my small cookie scoop. Don't limit yourself to just Christmas on these - they'll work anytime.
Almond meal is also known as almond flour, but is just ground almonds. You can buy it at Trader Joe's or make it yourself by grinding whole almonds in a food processor until fine.
Almond Chocolate Thumbprints
adapted from Alice Medrich via Being a Bear
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. almond meal (see note above)
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into chunks and slightly softened
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3 c. flour
3/4 c. coarse sugar (like turbinado)
7 1/2 oz. (1 1/4 c.) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Mix sugar, salt, and almond meal together in a large bowl. Add butter, vanilla extract and almond extract to mixture and mix with beater until smooth. Add flour. Mix until dough begins to come together.
Pour coarse sugar into a shallow bowl. Line several cookie sheets with waxed paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in coarse sugar to cover completely. Set balls on prepared cookie sheets, with a slight space between each cookie. With the finger of your choice, press down the center of the cookie to make a deep divot. You may need to dip your finger in flour or water to keep it from sticking to the dough. Cover cookie sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.
When ready to bake cookies, heat oven to 325 degrees. Take cookies out of refrigerator and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch of space between cookies. Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and quickly use the end of a wooden spoon's handle to gently tamp down cookies' divots. Return cookies to oven and cook until barely beginning to turn golden, another 8-10 minutes.
Remove cookies from cookie sheets and place on cooling racks until cooled completely. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt together semisweet chocolate and Butter, stirring frequently, until smooth. Using a small spoon, fill divot in each cooled cookie with chocolate filling. Let stand until set.