Well this year, I might have broken that tradition. Yes, they're cookies, and not a big fancy cake or cheesecake or giant cupcake. But they are special. You see, they feature nutella. They also feature quality cocoa and chopped hazelnuts. They are decadent and delicious and beautiful.
Still, I won't hold my breath for a win. There are some veteran bakers in our office and I wouldn't presume that I'm even in their league. Either way, these are wonderful little holiday treats and they made our house smell terrific.
Chocolate Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
makes 28 cookies
1 cup (lightly spooned into cup) whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpat liners.
2. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk.
3. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Whisk egg yolks with instant coffee and add to the butter along with vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. The batter will have a thick, fudgy texture.
4. Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper. Knead a few times until smooth and shiny. Shape dough into 28 1-inch balls. Roll sides of balls in the chopped hazelnuts, pressing gently. (Not a lot of nuts will stick - don't stress over it).
5. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Press thumb into center of each cookie, leaving an indentation. (The indentations will be less intense after baking - you might need to recreate them with the back of a spoon while cookies are still hot). Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
6. Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella into the center of each cookie. Use a toothpick to swirl the Nutella into a pretty pattern (see picture above).