Monday, November 29, 2010

Turtle-y enough for the Turtle Club.

The inverse relationship between form and function is well-documented when it comes to clothes. Are my flannel pajamas and shearling moccasins the most deliciously cozy items to ever adorn my person? Probs. Am I going to be successful/generally perceived as attractive if I wear them around on the daily? Doubtful. It's unfortunate, but unavoidable: stilettos will always trump slippers in the game of life (which is why I bought two pairs of stilettos today. Leopard-print calf hair pumps and gray suede ankle booties. Casual bankruptcy, don't worry about it).

You may or may not have realized, however, that a similar pattern arises with desserts. Close your eyes and conjure up a memory of the best cookie you ever ate. Is it a perfectly formed, wafer-thin, painstakingly embellished tea cookie? Also doubtful. The best cookies are the homely ones: the monster mounds of butter and sugar and oats and nuts and gooey baking morsels in your flavor of choice; the ones that look more like turds than like tulips. Cupcakes more readily lend themselves to kitsch, but even they require you to stay en garde (spoiler alert! Fondant flowers are not as tasty as buttercream rosettes). I generally find that the tastier the dessert, the uglier the presentation. It's fine. I'm over it. I'm willing to occasionally sacrifice my sense of sight for my sense of taste.

Imagine my delight, however, to discover a recipe that manages to straddle the line between "cookies to look at" and "cookies to devour until you can no longer zip up your J. Brand jeans." These turtle thumbprints nail the hearty texture of an ugly cookie with all the charm of a lemon wreath or almond sand dollar. These cookies are winners. You might, in fact, say that all they do is win. Feel like winning today? Set out a stick of butter. Take a preemptive spin on the elliptical. And prepare yourself for several hours of assembling:

Turtle Thumbprints

After making my daily blog rounds in search of a dessert that would satiate my pregnancy-caliber chocolate cravings (reasons I should never have children), I decided on these because a) they're so darn cute and b) I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen. Yep, I've become the kind of person who has things like heavy cream and semi-sweet baking chips on hand pre-grocery run. Sign me up for the nunnery. Anyway, I'm not gonna lie: these are labor-intensive. But if I, former domestic rogue and relative kitchen novice, can turn them out à la the above photos, so can you. Recipe adapted from Baked Bree.

1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 caramels
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/4 finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Separate the egg. Reserve both parts (the yolk you'll use now, but the white you won't need until later).
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Combine the cocoa, flour and salt in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for two hours.
3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating, roll the dough into balls about one inch in diameter. Whip the reserved egg white until foamy. Roll the dough balls in the egg whites, then in the chopped pecans (I had a nice little system going where one hand dealt with the egg white and the other hand dealt with the pecans. Kept my whites from getting chunky and my nuts from getting eggy. Highly recommend it). Place the balls about an inch and a half apart on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Using your thumb, press to form a well in each cookie. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies have set (I always figure it's better to underbake than to overbake and burn, so I went for the lesser cook time).
4. While the cookies are baking, place the caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until fully melted. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack (slip a sheet of waxed paper underneath to facilitate clean-up) and fill immediately with caramel.
5. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in the same 30-second intervals. Add the oil. Drizzle over cookies using a fork or a pastry bag (do
not try to use a regular Ziploc bag with molten chocolate. It will burst. Fortunately, I didn't make this mistake because I'm really good at Googling, and because I also have pastry bags in my pantry. FML). Makes about two dozen cookies.

Apparently they freeze like a dream, so grab a few to enjoy with your afternoon tea and pop the rest in the freezer for the next time an epic chocolate craving strikes. Or, if you lack self-control, Cady Heron that shit and dutifully tote them along to work to fatten up your co-workers (total frenemy move. Jaykay, guys!). Or bring them as a really impressive housewarming gift to your next holiday party. The possibilities are endless!!!!!11!!!11

P.S. Decided to keep the blog title as is. I may not currently be a redhead, but I will always be a ginger.


Andi said...

I am obsessed with you.

jldubs said...

I like the tin, and I like that you have all those ingredients on hand.