Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

By • June 10, 2012 • 44 Comments



Author Notes: These cookies were inspired by a Hotline question I posted in the spring seeking ideas for what to serve at an open house for my daughter's baptism. ATG117 suggested jam thumbprint cookies. I not only thought it was a good idea, but I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen to make some. I started by adapting a Dorie Greenspan recipe for thumbprint cookies which features hazelnuts and raspberry jam. I swapped out hazelnuts with almonds, added lemon zest for brightness (I think almost any butter cookie benefits from lemon zest), upped the vanilla, and omitted the confectioners’ sugar for dusting, finding it to detract from the shortbread. Instead of using jam, I decided to fill the thumbprints with dark chocolate sprinkled with a little sea salt. It definitely works well -- the rich, salty chocolate center is absolutely delicious with the fragrant vanilla-almond shortbread. And like most shortbread cookies, they keep remarkably well, making them perfect for gifting or preparing in advance for guests. Tightly covered, they should hold well for about a week, if they last that long!EmilyC

Makes about 2 dozen

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature + 2 tablespoons (for chocolate filling)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • finely grated zest from 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons golden syrup or light corn syrup
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two small baking sheets (or one large one) with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour and almond meal.
  3. In another small bowl, combine lemon zest with sugar. With the tips of your fingers, rub the zest and sugar together until they’re well integrated.
  4. Combine the butter and sugar-zest mixture in the bowl of a stand or hand mixer. Beat them together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few more seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add the almond meal-flour mixture a little at a time. Beat just until just incorporated into the dough -- don’t overmix.
  5. Scoop teaspoon-sized balls of dough (a melon scoop works well) and roll them to form small balls. Place the balls about 2” apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Make sure you don't press through the dough, but make sure the centers are plenty deep and wide to hold the chocolate filling.
  6. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are only slightly colored around the edges; be careful to not overbake. (About 10 minutes in, I often check the thumbprint indentations -- if they seem too shallow, remove the cookie sheet and depress the centers while the dough is still soft. The curved back of a melon scoop or teaspoon works well.) When done, remove the baking sheets from oven and transfer the cookies to cooling racks. I like to do this by keeping the cookies on the parchment, and sliding the parchment onto the cooling rack.
  7. To make chocolate filling: Using a double boiler or a small heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate, 2 tablespoons butter, and golden syrup. Stir until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. When cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the chocolate, and then sprinkle with sea salt. Allow about an hour for the chocolate centers to set.

Comments (44) Questions (0)

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Missycat

3 months ago Carol Higgins

Do you really need the syrup? Syrup is just so high in sugar. I am afraid the lovely dark chocolate will come out tasting sweet, also.

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3 months ago EmilyC

Hi Carol, The golden syrup contributes a nice shine and body to the chocolate without adding a noticeable sweetness in my opinion. You could leave it out, but the chocolate will be duller in appearance.

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5 months ago potatoes

Similar to others, my dough was very crumbly and dry. But, it was also SUPER difficult to form it into balls that would actually hold their shape, let alone hold enough for me to indent them. I ended up with a crumbly mess on my cookie sheet :( They tasted great, but for some reason these did not work well for me.

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5 months ago EmilyC

Sorry to hear this! The times I've made them, I've never had dry dough, but I wonder if you could troubleshoot dry dough by forming it into a log, chilling it, and then breaking off small pieces and rolling them? In any case, thanks for trying them and for the feedback.

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5 months ago PssP

I am unable to find the Almond meal in my regular grocery store.... How can i make it? Can i substitute it ?

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5 months ago EmilyC

Here are good instructions: http://food52.com/blog...

Beach

7 months ago Fancy and Casual

These are absolutely delicious! The lemon zest really adds an interesting flavor to the cookie

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7 months ago EmilyC

Oh good, so glad you liked them! Thanks for your note.

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8 months ago Michelle de Lima

Nice cookie. I am enjoying one with coffee right now. I simply omitted the syrup and the chocolate filling still came out with a great texture. I also left out the parchment, as I often do to avoid waste, and removal and cleanup was still a cinch. I did find the dry dough was time-consuming to form into balls and indent.

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8 months ago EmilyC

Thanks, Michelle, for your note -- glad you tried and liked them. Wish I had one with my coffee right now! Happy Thanksgiving!

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9 months ago betty888

Super easy and really tasty. One of my friends called it a "grownup cookie", because it's not too sweet. This one will be in rotation for a long time, I'm sure.

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9 months ago EmilyC

Thanks so much!

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9 months ago lschrive

These were great - I made them with my 3 year old. Even though the dough seemed dry, she and I had no trouble rolling them into balls. I foresee making these a lot! Thank you for the idea.

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9 months ago EmilyC

So glad you liked them! I too have a 3 year old who is my cookie-making accomplice. Cute profile pic! : )

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10 months ago Kendra A.

I made these on Friday evening to share with friends on Saturday, and they were a huge hit! I made one batch exactly as written, and a second one with some caramel under the chocolate. Both were wonderful, and I will definitely be making them again!

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10 months ago EmilyC

Great to know -- thanks for trying them!

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over 1 year ago chef hilarious

Brilliant! Thanks for your help.

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over 1 year ago chef hilarious

I read in the introductory comments a reference to caramel...I do have some delicious caramel brought back from Brittany, France. How do I use this as a filling without it being too "oozy"?

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

If the caramel isn't thick enough to work as the filling, I'll bet it would be delicious drizzled over the cookies instead!

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over 1 year ago chasey

Has anyone made these with only almond meal and none of the wheat flour?

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over 1 year ago pvanhagenlcsw

Oh I was very skeptical as the dough was "dry" but then held together well when I rolled it into small rounds. I was very worried ( there is a theme here ) they would not hold up in the oven but baking went well. Now, I am just waiting for the chocolate to set and then we can enjoy them. I only made 13 cookies and I like the size. I don't think a smaller one would would satisfy. Oh they do satisfy.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

That's wonderful! So glad they turned out well! I like making them small, but I'll admit to usually eating two at a time! : )

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over 1 year ago Kristina S

I just made these and they are sooo good! They kind of have to be with all that chocolate and butter! I added a little twist - I put some raspberry jam on the cookies before I put on the chocolate for a little something extra. I can't taste the lemon at all, so I'm not sure it's needed. I also thought they looked kinda small, but they are so rich I'm glad I made them the size you recommended. Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

So happy you enjoyed them, Kristina -- and I like your jam-chocolate tweak! Thanks for reporting back.

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about 1 year ago MQAvatar

I bet a little bit of caramel beneath the chocolate would be an amazing surprise too.

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over 1 year ago zahavah

I'd love to make these for Passover - is there a good substitute for corn syrup? Maybe honey?

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

I'm far from an expert on kosher foods, but I use Lyle's golden syrup when I make these. It's made from sugar cane, not corn. Honey should work too. Hope you enjoy them!

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over 1 year ago zahavah

Thanks Emily. I'm thinking of using honey or Lyle's and replacing the flour with matzah meal.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Curious to know how they turn out -- please report back!

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over 1 year ago Jenn2323

Please let me know about Matzah meal replacement. What about coconut flour in place of white flour?

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over 1 year ago WinnieAb

These look easy and fabulous! Thanks for featuring them.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Thank you!

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over 1 year ago JulietteMiranda

These look outstanding! One question: I'm horribly allergic to nuts (it's the despair of my life). Is there anything I can use to substitute the almond meal? Please say yes.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Hi there -- I'm thinking you could just use all AP flour and no almond meal and they'll still be good. But I've never tried them this way. You might want to post your question on the hotline for others to weigh in!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Blitz raw sunflower seeds in a blender for about 12 seconds on medium power, stirring down after 3 or 4 seconds. Don't let it turn into butter! That should work. (I have never tried doing this with pepitas but certainly would be interested in giving it a try.) Both will have a different flavor than almond meal -- which actually doesn't usually give much flavor in baking -- but I think in both cases the cookies would taste good. I might add a touch more vanilla. ;o)

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over 1 year ago MrsMehitabel

You could also use coconut flour or whole wheat flour.... maybe even cornmeal or something? (I'm mentally looking at the Bob's Red Mill shelf as I type) It seems like these would have a crumblier texture than an all-white-flour cookie would- something with less gluten and a coarser texture than AP flour might be a good substitute.

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over 1 year ago The Spiced Life

I was thinking maybe coconut flour. It would have the fat like almond flour would.

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over 1 year ago joanne morrison

I would try sesame seeds, raw or roasted grounded up in coffee grinder.
If using coconut flour make sure to adjust with eggs as it is very very drying (do read up before using it).
I will be substituting a low carb flour mix for the flour as I am gluten free mostly.

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over 1 year ago JennyMac

Hi, quick question, what exactly is almond meal?

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Finely ground almonds. You can find it in the baking aisle alongside flour or can DIY in the food processor.

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over 1 year ago littlesycogirl

I just made these today and they are lovely. I was too lazy to do the chocolate bit but i still topped them with salt. fabulous. thank you very much for sharing it !

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

So happy you enjoyed them! Thanks for reporting back!

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about 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I feel like Homer Simpson when he sees doughnuts! These look and sound fantastic!!

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about 2 years ago EmilyC

HaHa...and thanks! They might seriously be my new favorite cookie since they combine buttery shortbread + almonds + salty dark chocolate. And the cool thing is that had it not been for ATG117 planting the idea in my head, I doubt if I'd ever made them.