These almond cream thumbprint cookies are delicate and aromatic, a perfect blend of flavors in an easy to make recipe. The simple shortbread style cookie is transformed into something special with the addition of almond cream, creating a lovely alternative to the traditional thumbprint cookie.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate almonds in a recipe, aside from using almond flour, is with almond cream. It is incredibly versatile and great for baking, and equally delicious when eaten straight from the jar. Not to be confused with almond pastry cream that usually contains heavy cream, this type of almond cream is made with almonds, milk powder and an oil, usually coconut oil, olive oil or sunflower oil. Almond cream can be readily purchased pre-made throughout Italy (much like peanut butter in the US) along with pistachio cream and hazelnut cream. You can easily make it yourself at home, but I really love the versions that are imported from Sicily which can be found at many gourmet food shops.
The almond cream for the thumbprint filling in this recipe complements the texture of shortbread cookies beautifully. The contrast between a perfectly crunchy cookie and velvety smooth almond cream is to die for. Little bits of kosher salt in the cookie batter add an extra explosion of flavor with every bite. The trio of almond extract, almond cream and almond slices bring the delicate aroma of almonds to life in this delicious dessert.
Almond Cream Thumbprint Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 packet vanillina or 1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz jar almond cream (or other sweet cream such as nutella)
sliced almonds for decoration
Using a hand mixer on medium speed mix the granulated sugar and butter until creamy. Add the honey, egg yolk and almond extract (if using vanilla extract instead of vanillina powder add the vanilla extract along with the almond). Beat ingredients together on medium speed until well incorporated. In a separate small bowl combine the flour, salt and vanillina powder by hand. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to the batter and mix on low speed. Once incorporated, add the rest of the dry ingredients to the batter and continue mixing on low speed just until well combined.
Divide the cookie batter into two equal portions on top of two large pieces of saran wrap and roll into logs, sealing the batter tightly. Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove batter from the refrigerator and using a knife cut the dough into slices approximately a half inch wide. Place on baking sheet and bake for approximately 7 minutes. Remove from oven and make indentations in the center of each cookie using your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon. Return to the oven to finish baking, approximately 8 more minutes, or just until golden. Don’t over bake or the cookies will be too dry and crumbly! Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
Once completely cool fill each cookie with almond cream and place a few almond slices on top.