Each year around this time, we all beg my mother to make pecan sandies for our Christmas cookie stash. They're absolutely delicious, but this year I couldn't help but wonder - what if I made a cookie that was even MORE stuffed with pecan deliciousness? The answer is: eat them as often as possible. There's something pretty fantastic about this cookie. It's tender and bursting with flavor. And the espresso powder in the frangipane really boosts this cookie up another level.
Double Pecan Thumbprints
From Bon Appétit magazine, December 2018
1¾ cups pecan halves, plus 26 additional for topping
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons espresso powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Dough and Assembly
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup powdered sugar, divided; plus more for serving (optional)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
For the frangipane:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until slightly darkened in color and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool; set 1 cup pecans plus 26 of the prettiest halves aside for making the dough and final cookie.
Pulse granulated sugar and remaining ¾ cup pecans in a food processor until nuts are very finely ground (be careful to stop before they become a paste), 30 to 60 seconds. Add egg white and pulse just to blend, then add butter, espresso powder, salt, and almond extract. Pulse just until mixture is smooth and combined. Scrape frangipane into a small bowl and chill at least 30 minutes before using.
Do Ahead: Frangipane can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled. You will have more than you need, but try slathering leftovers on toasted brioche and baking until lightly browned (sort of like an almond croissant). We guarantee you won’t be upset about it.
For the dough and assembly:
Pulse flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 cup reserved pecans in clean food processor until nuts are very finely ground, about 1 minute.
Beat butter, granulated sugar, and ¼ cup powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat until combined and no streaks remain. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Beat just until incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough until it’s firm enough that you can scoop it and it will hold its shape, 30 to 45 minutes.
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F. Place ½ cup powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Working in batches, scoop out tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into balls between your hands, then roll in powdered sugar, knocking off any excess. Transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets as you work, spacing 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies until puffed but edges are still soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and make an indent in the center of each cookie with the handle end of a wooden spoon or a similar heatproof object. Spoon a heaping ½-teaspoonful of frangipane into each and top with a pecan half from remaining reserved 26 halves. Return cookies to oven and continue to bake until edges are set and very lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Let cool on baking sheets.
Just before serving, dust cookies with more powdered sugar if desired.
Makes about 26 cookies