This post is sponsored by Simply Chocolate, a one stop shop for folks who love chocolate and want to celebrate any occasion by gifting and eating chocolate from some of the best chocolatiers like Jacques Torres, Neuhaus, and Vosges. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep Hummingbird High up and running!
In retrospect, 2018 was a year of restraint for me: I spent the majority of it working on my upcoming book, #weeknightbakingbook, which meant long hours both in the kitchen and the library, chipping away at recipes and headnotes. I did a self-imposed No Clothes Shopping Challenge, where I literally did not buy a new article of clothing for the entire year (AMA — it actually wasn't all that bad, except for when a pair of workout pants ripped mid-HIIT class and I had to wait months to replace it). Aside from a much needed girls trip to Turkey with my mom, most of my travel was work-related; Erlend and I spent all of last year's holidays at home by ourselves.
2019, on the other hand, is shaping up to be the complete opposite. Realizing how little travel we did together last year, Erlend and I booked tickets to Seattle, London (pro-tip: tickets are crrrrazzzy cheap because of Brexit), and Copenhagen. And after meeting my latest (and, dare I say, hardest, but I'm likely jinxing myself now) book deadline earlier this month, I went on a bit of a shopping binge: a fancy new (and 100% entirely too expensive) suitcase from Rimowa, jeans from Madewell and Re/Done because Alana rightfully pointed out that all of my pants were two sizes too large, and a winter coat from J.Crew to replace my current one that's six years old with the broken leather strap and missing buttons.
If it sounds like I just name dropped a bunch of brands at you, it's because my Year of No Shopping taught me about the importance of buying quality over quantity. I'm the kind of person who researches her purchases for months and then proceeds to commit to it for years and years — I've worn the same pair of glasses since 2008, the same winter coat since 2013, and so on. To me, it's worth it to spend more on something the first time around, especially if I'm planning on buying it just once and owning it for life.
Over the years, I've started to apply that "quantity over quality" shopping philosophy in my baking too. I'll skimp on ingredients that won't affect the baked good's final flavor—like baking powder and baking soda, for instance—but splurge on butter and chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, I have a rule: if it's not chocolate that I would eat on its own, then there's no way I'm using it in a recipe. Cheap chocolate is the pits; it's loaded with all sorts of wax and sugar and tastes nothing like the real stuff.
So when Simply Chocolate reached out to me to ask me to use some of their chocolates in my baking, I was beyond excited — Simply Chocolate offers a wide range of chocolate from some of the very best chocolatiers. I picked out two gift boxes (one from Knipschlidt and one from Vosges) full of the most colorful truffles and bon bons. I had the idea to make a fancier version of those thumbprint cookies, but with a TWIST: instead of topping each cookie with a Hershey's Kiss or dollop of ganache or jam, I'd top it with a chocolate truffle. I thought it would be extra fun because both the Knipschlidt and Vosges truffles are all filled with different flavored creams, caramels, and ganaches — every cookie would have its own surprise flavor. The only problem was that the truffles were so good that Erlend and I had a hard time stopping ourselves from eating them while I was assembling the cookies. Oops.
- For perfectly round cookies, use a 1-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to scoop out the dough and roll it in between your hands (like you would Play-Doh!) to make a small ball. Because I was lazy, I only rolled some of them in my hands and left the others unrolled (but still scooped). The unrolled ones definitely cracked more in the oven. The recipe also instructs you to press your thumb into the center of each cookie — you want to create an indentation that's around 1/2-inch wide. Any larger, and your truffle will likely be too small for the indentation.
- Unlike classic thumbprint recipes, which instructs you to top each cookie dough ball with a Hershey's Kiss and THEN bake the whole thing in the oven, you'll need to bake the cookies first, wait for them to cool, and then assemble the whole thing. Baking the truffles in the oven with the cookies, or even topping the cookies with truffles while they're still warm, will cause the truffles to melt. Hershey's Kisses hold their shape in the oven because they're built like chocolate chips; they're pumped with paraffin wax (yep, the same wax that you make candles and crayons with), which helps keep their shape in high heat conditions. Real chocolate, like the stuff that was used to make these truffles, doesn't have any of that and will melt completely.