Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cappuccino Thumbprint Cookies: Modern Baker Challenge

The Cappuccino Thumbprint Cookies were my first pick from the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of Nick Malgieri's book The Modern Baker.  They reminded me of the peanut butter blossom cookies my mom made us when we were kids, that had the Hershey's Chocolate Kiss in the center.  As as adult I've also grown to love thumbprint cookies with jam in the center, so I couldn't wait to try these.

The dough was easy to mix together and to get it into the 8-inch square shape before chilling, I opted to just dump the dough into my 8X8 pan.  It seemed to make the most sense to try it that way.  I smoothed out the dough, wrapped it good in seran wrap and dashed off to the grocery store, while the dough chilled for a an hour or so in the fridge.  Since the pan that I shaped my dough in didn't have perfectly round corners, and because my measuring wasn't exact, I had some pieces of dough that were definitely smaller than others.  So I stole bits and pieces of dough from larger squares as I was forming my little spheres.  

The dough got soft rather quickly, since it takes awhile to shape 20 little spheres of dough, so while I was working on the first sheet pan of cookies, I put the remaining dough back in the fridge until I was ready for it.

Coating the spheres in the egg white, before covering in the finely ground almonds, gave me some trouble.  I assumed you were to coat the whole sphere in egg white, so I lowered each sphere into the egg white and then carefully flipped it to cover both sides.  Some of the spheres did not want to come out of their egg white bath.  They'd jump off the fork and flop back in.  Urrghh!  Maybe it would've been easier to just use a pastry brush to apply the egg whites to the spheres?  

I debated about what to use to make the cavity in the tops of the cookies.  In the end, I used my pinky for the first sheet pan, and for the second sheet pan, I used my old plastic 1/4 tsp measuring spoon.  It seemed though, like the cavities in the picture in the book are bigger than mine. 
Cookies in the oven, it was time for a coffee break :)  

Whenever a recipe calls for strong brewed coffee or espresso now, I whip out a packet of my Starbucks Italian Roast Via coffee.  Instead of adding 8 oz of water to the packet contents, I add 6 oz to ensure it's nice and strong.
The cookies baked up fine and the browning almonds smelled quite nice, but my little cavities started disappearing as they got near being done :(   

I grabbed my little 1/4 tsp measuring spoon and as soon as they came out of the oven, while still soft, I gently used the spoon to press out the little cavities.  Don't push too hard though, as the cookies will crack.

The #1 mistake I made was to add cool vanilla to my melted white chocolate.  My melted chocolate seized up and no matter how much I stirred, even after adding my hot espresso, I couldn't do anything with the chocolate filling.  It was a grainy, lumpy mess.  I had to throw it out and try again.

For my second attempt, I only used 4 oz of white chocolate and some semi-sweet regular chocolate (to give the filling a darker color).  I added my vanilla to my espresso, then poured the espresso over the chocolate.  I then placed the bowl over my barely simmering water and melted the chocolate.    

I let the filling cool a bit, then poured it into a disposable decorating bag and filled all my cookies.  I'm not sure how Nick got such glossy smooth tops on his cookies.  My filling wasn't thin enough to ooze down into each cavity and smooth itself out.  I tried smoothing the tops with an offset spatula, but that didn't work.

The finished cookies were still very attractive.  We thought the flavor of these cookies was just OK, though. We like the toasted ground almonds on the outside of the cookie, but the flavor of the cookie is kind of plain, and they are a little dry.  Hubby says they taste 'floury'.  The flavor of the filling is good, but there is just not enough of it to make up for the flavor/texture lacking in the cookie itself.  Maybe this cookie is just not right for us, since we tend to like moist, chewy cookies.  Anyway, I'm glad I tried this recipe and I'm off to try another.   So far the Cocoa Nib Brownies are still my favorite!


  1. Beautiful little cookies! I'm sorry to hear they gave you such a hard time. I'm excited to taste these, although after reading about your experience, I'm not really looking forward to making them. I'm very impatient when it comes to cookies, and all that shaping, dipping, rolling, pressing, and filling might just be too much for me.

  2. Mel, that's a very clever way to ensure evenly sized cookies! I've just bought this book! And I was looking at the cacao nib brownies - great to know they work well!