It’s very hard to think of something to write about Thalia Ho’s WILD SWEETNESS: Recipes Inspired by Nature when staring at a photo of her ganache thumbprint cookies, because let’s be honest, they’re hypnotic. Your eyes might be glancing over this text, but you’re not actually processing any of these words. Your brain is consumed by these cookies, gazing at their rich chocolate centers, which appear to be staring straight back at you. Your body cries out for them, furious the cookies are but a photo on a screen and not in your possession. It commands you to make them tangible. It needs you to bake and eat these cookies. These ganache thumbprints are just one example of the 95 baked delights the Butter and Brioche blogger chose for her debut cookbook, each and every one more than capable of driving you wild with buttery, sugary desire. There’s no point in trying to resist this siren song—you need to conserve your energy, because you’ve got a lot of baking to do.
Reprinted from WILD SWEETNESS: Recipes Inspired by Nature by Thalia Ho (Harper Design, 2021)
It may not seem like a lot, but something as small as a tablespoon holds power. At least that’s how I feel about these. Their flavor reminds me of those little bottle-shaped liqueur chocolates that somehow we all grew up with—robust, boozy, and rich, with a body that does nothing but disintegrate. The liqueur comes last. It’s not strong, but it’ll seep into you, slowly, especially if you have more than one. There’s a good chance of that.
For the cookie dough:
- 1 cups (250 g) flour
- 3/4 cup (75 g) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar, plus an additional 1/4 cup (50 g), for sanding
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the ganache:
- 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. (180 g) finely chopped dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp. crème de cassis
Set oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
For the dough, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, 3 minutes. Pause mixing to scrape down the bottom and side of the bowl. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well to incorporate each addition, then mix in the vanilla. Lower the speed and tip in the dry ingredients. Beat until a soft dough has just begun to form, no more than 30 seconds.
Tip the sanding sugar into a shallow bowl. Using a tablespoon as a measure, scoop the dough out and into even-size portions, rolling them into smooth balls. If you have a scale, they should each weigh about 25 g. Roll in the sugar, then divide between the prepared sheets, placing them a few inches apart for spreading. With your thumb, make a small well-like indent in the middle of each, not pushing so far down that you touch the bottom.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and bottom to top halfway through, until crackled. The indents will have puffed up a bit, so as soon as you remove the trays, push them down again, lightly. I do it with my finger, but you can also use the end of a wooden spoon if the cookies are too hot. Transfer off the sheet and onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the ganache. Put the chocolate into a medium-size heatproof bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stream it over the chocolate. Stir slowly, until smooth, then stir in the crème de cassis. Leave to stand for a few minutes to thicken up slightly, then spoon into the thumbprints. Serve once the ganache has set. They’re best eaten on the day of making but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.