Hot Fudge Thumbprints

Every so often you come across something new and amazing that changes your life forever.  For me…it was this cookie.  You might think I’m being a bit dramatic waxing poetic about a cookie.  But this cookie was beyond incredible.  Probably the best cookie I have ever had and I’ve had my fair share of cookies.

I had wanted to try Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, a bakery and cafe owned by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Mindy Segal, for some time.  However, its Wicker Park location in Chicago was just a touch out of the way on each of my visits.  A few weeks ago, however, I was in Chicago for a conference and discovered Revival Food Hall. Revival Food Hall is a foodie’s dream with several of Chicago’s best fast-casual concepts all under one roof!  Everything looked and smelled delicious and I definitely wandered around for a good half hour before deciding what I wanted to eat.

However, when I stumbled upon a small Mindy’s Hot Chocolate outpost, there was no hesitation about where I was going for dessert.  Deciding what to order was a bit harder, though, because I wanted it all!!! Eventually with some help from the friendly staff I decided on a chocolate chip cookie, a Buckeye bar (aka peanut butter and chocolate goodness), $8 hot chocolate (yes $8 but TOTALLY worth it), and finally, these life-changing Hot Fudge Thumbprint cookies.  They essentially taste like you took the best and richest hot chocolate you can find (like their $8 version) and somehow condensed it into a soft and fudgy cookie.  Wow!  As soon as I tasted it I knew I need to learn how to make them and immediately bought Mindy Segal’s cookbook, Cookie Love, online.

The cookies are a bit labor intensive and start with you making about 4 cups of hot fudge (you only need about 1 cup for the recipe so you can make more cookies with rest or use it as ice cream topping…or just eat it with a spoon because it is that good).  My hot fudge didn’t quite separate the way it is described in the recipe but after about an hour of simmering (which is longer than what is called for in the recipe) it seemed like it was as done as it was going to get!  I made these over 2 days so that the dough could rest overnight.  I also added some extra sea salt to the top (because salty and sweet in the best combination) and coated the cookies in green sugar since it was St. Paddy’s Day that weekend.  Everyone at work raved about these cookies so I will definitely be making them again!  Recipe below is provided by Eater.

Hot Fudge Thumbprints (By Mindy Segal, Cookie Love):
Makes about 54 cookies

COOKIES
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

FOR SHAPING AND FILLING
1 heaping cup smoked sugar or demerara sugar
1 cup Hot Fudge (page 236)

To make the cookies:

• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar and beat together until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
• Put the egg, yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla into a small cup or bowl.
• In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salts.
• On medium speed, add the egg and yolk to the butter mixture and mix until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 10 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
• Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed. Mix until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix for another 10 seconds on medium speed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
• Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into an 8-inch square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
• Heat the oven to 350°F and line a couple of half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pans with parchment paper.

To shape the cookies:
• Cut the dough into 6 even strips. Roll the strips back and forth into logs to round out the edges. Sprinkle the smoked sugar on the work surface and roll the logs in the sugar to coat. Using the top half of your thumb as a guide, cut each log into 9 pieces but keep the log together. Roll the logs again to round out the edges, then pull the pieces apart and place cut-side up on the prepared pans, evenly spacing up to 20 cookies per pan. With the tip of your index finger, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
• Bake one pan at a time for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and tap down the centers with the rounded end of a wooden spoon or a cocktail muddler. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies have slight cracks on the top and are set, another 4 to 6 minutes. When ready, the cookies will have set around the edges and you will be able to gently move them. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Repeat with the remaining pan.

To fill the cookies:
• Heat the hot fudge briefly in a pot over high heat until the sides start to melt. Stir well, then transfer to a squeeze bottle or have a teaspoon ready.
• Once the cookies are completely cool, squeeze enough hot fudge onto the cookies to fill the indentation or spoon the hot fudge into the center. Refrigerate the cookies until the hot fudge has set, approximately 30 minutes.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Hot Fudge

Makes a generous 4 cups

Hot fudge was one of the first things I learned how to make in my early days as a pastry cook (thank you, Judy Contino), and I’m still fascinated by the alchemy of the process. Chocolate, sugar, syrup, and cream are simmered until the oils separate from the solids. At first it looks like chocolate gone wrong, but then I add butter and a generous helping of vanilla and whisk the whole thing thoroughly. The hot fudge magically comes together. Because the chocolate and cream need to cook for a while, use a sturdy pot to avoid scorching the bottom. Once made, the hot fudge lasts for weeks and weeks in the refrigerator.

3 cups heavy cream
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle’s, see page 269) or light corn syrup
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

• In a 6-quart or larger heavy pot over medium-high heat, combine the cream, sugar, and syrup until dissolved, approximately 3 minutes. Add the chocolate and salt and bring to a boil. Lower to a gentle simmer so that the bubbles percolate in the center of the pot. Cook, stirring periodically to avoid scorching the bottom, until the mixture breaks and the oils separate from the solids, 40 to 45 minutes.
• Whisk in the butter and vanilla thoroughly (you can also use an immersion blender to do this if you want it extra smooth) and let cool.

Hot fudge keeps in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Nutella Blossom Cookies

As a Jew, Christmas has always seemed magical to me: the tree, the lights, the presents, and of course…the cookies!  With the explosion of social media posts around the holidays, it seemed like everyone was getting in the Christmas spirit (minus Mother Nature…70 degrees on Christmas Eve? Seriously?).  While I didn’t go all in and buy my own Christmas tree (I’ll admit I was kinda tempted because they smell so good!) I did decide to make my own Christmas, or holiday, cookies.

Last weekend I attended an awesome ugly sweater holiday party and the hostess made the most delicious cookies: Nutella cookies!  I am pretty sure I have confessed my love for Nutella before but I really really really really love Nutella!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  After obtaining the recipe from the hostess I decided to make my own version of traditional Peanut Butter Blossoms (the peanut butter cookies with a hershey kiss in the middle) but with the Nutella cookies.

One key fact I learned while making these cookies: While Nutella is amazing, skinning hazelnuts is not.  You can buy them already skinned if you are lucky enough to locate them but I, unfortunately, was not that lucky.  There are 2 methods to skinning hazelnuts.  Both have their pluses and minuses and both are kinda a pain.  I chose the blanching method with good results and to be honest, these cookies are worth the pain.

To all my loyal readers, happy and delicious holidays!

Nutella Blossom Cookies (Recipe adapted slightly from Cook’s Country via food.com)

Makes about 54 cookies

3 cups  all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons  baking powder
1⁄2teaspoon  salt
1 1⁄4cups nutella, spread
4 tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened
1 1⁄3cups  granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 teaspoon  instant espresso powder
2 large  eggs
1⁄3 cup  milk
1⁄2 cup  hazelnuts, skinned, toasted and chopped fine
1 cup  confectioners’ sugar
54 hershey kisses

Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 375°F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

With electric mixer on medium high speed, beat Nutella, butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, espresso powder and eggs and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and milk, and mix until just combined. Fold in 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and refrigerate dough until firm about 1 hour.

Place confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. One at a time roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in confectioners’ sugar.

Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Press one hershey kiss into the center of each cookie.

Bake until set, about 8 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Cool 5 minutes on sheets, and transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Cornflake, Chocolate Chip, and Marshmallow Cookies

I have never really been a huge fan of cereal.  As a child, my go to breakfasts were pop tarts (only the s’mores variety), muffins, and donuts (can you tell I have a sweet tooth?).  This has changed as I’ve grown older, (hopefully) more mature, and more cognizant of the nutrition choices I make.  I still scoff at most cereals but I do enjoy a nice bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. Regardless, you can imagine my skepticism when I first came across these cookies with….gasp…cornflakes!  A fellow food blogger, Dafna of Stellina Sweets, had highly recommended the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook in a recent post.  I  have heard of Milk Bar but have never been fortunate enough to go and after investigating the cookbook further, I deemed it a worthy culinary investment.  With ingredients like corn powder (from freeze dried corn that you can buy here), milk powder, glucose, and yes, cornflakes, I decided to push myself in new sweet directions.

To make these cookies, you first make a corn flake crunch by mixing crushed cornflakes, sugar, milk powder and butter and then lightly baking the clusters.  Next, you make a cookie dough which involves a long and thorough butter creaming process in a stand mixer.  Finally, you add the cornflake crunch, mini chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.  The recipe below is amended slightly to reflect some of the tips shared with me by Dafna:

1) I used 2 cups of cornflake crunch instead of the recommended 3 cups
2) The original recipe makes larger cookies and bakes them for 18 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  I prefer smaller cookies (more to share!) and baked them at 350 degrees for 11 minutes per Dafna’s recommendations.

The results were scrumptious!  Cornflakes in a cookie…genius!  Next Momofuku Milk Bar recipe to tackle will be the famous Crack Pie.  Look for the post next week.  For the cornflake cookie recipe, click below.

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