This cookie is doubly delectable, as it combines two holiday must haves? the classic thumbprint and the gingersnap.
Prep Talk: Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week. For the firmest texture, enjoy within the first 3 days.
¾ cup apricot jam
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon mild molasses
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¾ cups slivered almonds, finely chopped (for rolling)
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Make the Cranberry-Apricot Filling. Place the jam in a small bowl. If there are any large (greater than ½-inch) chunks of apricot in the jam, pull them out and chop them into small pieces. Stir the pieces back into the jam along with the cranberries. Set aside for use in Step 8.
3. Mix the Gingersnap Thumbprints.
Mix the flour, spices, and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in the crystallized ginger, taking care to break apart any pieces that may be clinging to one another. Set aside. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the molasses, egg yolks, and vanilla extract, and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure even mixing. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture, blending just until incorporated.
4. Place the chopped almonds in a large bowl or cake pan to form a shallow layer. Lightly beat the egg whites and set aside for use in Step 6.
5. Roll the dough between your palms into 1-inch balls.
For the most uniform balls, first portion the dough into 1-inch mounds using a level 13/8-inch (#70) scoop or 2 level teaspoons per mound; then roll into perfect balls. If the butter was overly soft to start, the dough may be sticky and hard to handle. Chill as needed until easily shaped. Take care not to over chill, however, or the dough may crack when you make the indentations in Step 7.
6. Work with one ball at a time. Lightly coat it with beaten egg white and then tumble in the almonds to evenly coat. Roll between your palms again to firmly fix the nuts in place. Repeat with the remaining balls.
7. Arrange the cookies 1 to 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Using your thumb or the end of a round-handled spoon, make a deep cup-shaped indentation in the center of each cookie.
8. Bake the cookies 13 to 14 minutes, or until the nuts are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and re-press each indentation. Fill each indentation with 1 rounded ½ teaspoon filling and then bake another 3 to 4 minutes. (Note: Do not overfill or the jam may spill out of the cookie as it heats up.) Using an offset spatula to prevent breakage, immediately transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.