Claire Saffitz’s Raspberry Almond Thumbprints
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Stop the presses: Baking expert (and our savior of all things sweet) Claire Saffitz is back with her second cookbook, What’s for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People. So what is for dessert? We’re answering the question first with these raspberry almond thumbprints, which are bound to become your favorite cookie of 2022.
“These macaroon-like almond cookies—loosely based on ricciarelli, a cookie native to Siena, Italy—are crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle,” Saffitz writes. “Because macaroons of all varieties also trend sweet, this cookie is flavored with raspberry jam and pulverized freeze-dried raspberries to add some fruity acidity. I love the crinkled look the cookies develop while baking, and I especially love that they remind me, both in flavor and in texture, of much more elaborate French macarons while requiring a fraction of the time, effort and technical skill to make.”
Who’s winning the cookie swap? You are.
What’s For Dessert Copyright © 2022 by Claire Saffitz. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
2¼ cups (216g) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons plus ½ cup (220g) raspberry jam
2 large (70g) egg whites, at room temperature
⅓ cup (66g) granulated sugar
½ cup plus ⅓ cup (92g) confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (28g) freeze-dried raspberries
1. Make, Portion and Freeze the Dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda and salt to combine. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon zest, vanilla, almond extract and 3 tablespoons of the raspberry jam until smooth. Set aside.
3.In a clean, large, non-plastic bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until the whites are broken up and frothy, about 20 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the whites are foamy and opaque, about 30 seconds, then gradually add the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating constantly. Once all the sugar is added, continue to beat just until you have dense, glossy egg whites that hold stiff peaks. Set the bowl aside.
4.Use a silicone spatula to gently fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites until well combined, then scrape in the jam mixture and continue to fold until you have an evenly mixed, stiff and tacky dough. The baking soda will react with the acidity in the jam and turn the batter grayish, which is normal. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour to let it rest.
5. Scoop a rounded tablespoon of dough and roll it between your palms to form a smooth ball, then transfer it to a plate. If the dough sticks to your palms, dampen your palms lightly with a drop or two of water. Repeat until you’ve rolled all the dough into balls and transferred them to the plate. (You should end up with about 22 balls.) Transfer the plate to the freezer and chill uncovered until the balls are cold and no longer tacky to the touch (but not frozen solid), 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Bake, Coat and Fill the Cookies: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
5. Place ½ cup (55g) of the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Remove the plate from the freezer and, working one piece at a time, toss the balls in the confectioners’ sugar until generously coated all over, then place on the prepared sheet pan, spacing them about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit all the dough on one pan (they spread just a little during baking).
6. Transfer the sheet pan to the oven and bake until the cookies have a crinkled surface and are golden brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes. While the cookies are still hot from the oven, press the handle end of a wooden spoon straight down into the center of each cookie and wiggle slightly to make an impression, but don’t press all the way through to the baking sheet. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheet, then carefully peel them away from the parchment paper one by one and transfer to a wire rack.
7. Place the freeze-dried raspberries in a resealable bag, and use a rolling pin, mallet or heavy-bottomed skillet to crush the raspberries to a fine powder. Add the remaining ⅓ cup (36g) confectioners’ sugar to the bag, then shake well to combine. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh sieve and shake it over the cookies to coat them completely in the pink sugar (sift any remaining sugar into a container and save for another use; discard any larger pieces trapped in the sieve).
8. In a small saucepan, warm the remaining ½ cup (160g) jam over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, just until it’s fluid (or warm it in 20-second bursts in a microwave). Remove the saucepan from the heat and use a teaspoon to fill the impressions with the warm jam. Let the thumbprints sit uncovered until the jam is mostly set, 15 to 20 minutes.
Make them ahead? Yes. The thumbprints, stored in an airtight container at room temperature, will keep for up to 3 days, but they’re best eaten on the day they’re baked while the edges are still crispy (the jam will cause the cookies to soften over time). To stack the cookies, separate layers between parchment or wax paper. The uncoated, unfilled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Coat in the raspberry sugar and fill with jam before serving.
Make these by hand? Yes. Follow the visual cues in the recipe, using a large whisk rather than an electric mixer to beat the egg whites and keeping in mind that it will take longer at each stage and require a bit of effort.
Use a stand mixer instead of a hand mixer? Yes. Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment as directed in the recipe, keeping in mind that the egg whites will whip faster and be easier to overbeat in the stand mixer.